We arrived into Belize airport and were picked up by Ka'ana driver, Wilbert. Wilbert is also a fully qualified tour guide, and after he gave us refreshments we began the drive to Ka'ana listening to his stories of the Maya civilization and how Belize used to be the center of it. It amazed us to find that we knew nothing of such a huge civilization, and that during the time of the Maya there were one million people living in Belize and now there are only 300,000! It's easy to see that they are very proud of their heritage, and an interesting heritage it is as there's a mixture of Maya descendants as well as English (the country was a British colony for centuries), Mestizo and even Garifuna (African descent).
When we reached Ka'ana 90 minutes later, we were greeted by the GM, chef and front desk with a lovely refreshing lime and ginger daiquiri and a lot of smiles! Our personal houseman, Richard, showed us to our villa, gave us a walkie-talkie that we could call him on at any time, and left us to settle in. The villa was really gorgeous, all modern amenities (large LCD TV, air conditioning, indoor and double outdoor showers, private pool and lounging deck) but designed with a really "local luxury" feel. They used a lot of beautiful hardwoods and mixed New York designers with local carpenters to create something sustainable and stylish. It was a very open, bright villa with a large private garden, where we enjoyed a complimentary bottle of wine. That night we met with the GM for a drink in their wine cellar and she answered all of our questions and helped us get oriented with the area. The resort site itself is beautiful at night, decorated with candles and surrounded by the call of birds, frogs, crickets and more. It's a large resort area for only 17 rooms, with a lot of landscaped grounds for walking. We had a cocktail (on the GM's recommendation) made by the head bartender Polo before dinner, and he used fruits and herbs from the resort's own organic garden. I think it was lemon basil muddled with local tequila that had been infused with garden-grown jalapeno and pineapple juice. It was delicious! And it was great to know the story of where everything came from.
For dinner we ate by the fire-pit outside, and the chef sent out a selection of his favorite dishes, from local pork chop to red snapper cooked on a cedar plank, and a delicious coconut milk soup with shrimp and plantain, a dish local to the fishing villages in Belize. Over the course of the next few nights we explored most dishes on the menu and loved them all, but the local coconut soup and the arugula salad (straight from the garden) were our favorites. On one of the nights we had dinners on a stargazing platform, on another in the restaurant, and one night just very casual food in the bar, which was exactly what we wanted.
The tours were a real highlight. We had our own private tour guide and vehicle and could basically explore anywhere we wanted to. We hiked through ancient Mayan cities where there were no other visitors, and had a bottle of champagne on the top of the tallest ruin while watching the sun go down. Another day we hiked across 3 rivers and swam into an enormous cave where the Maya believed the gods of the underworld lived. We spent 3 hours inside the cave, climbing and hiking through to different areas where the Maya priests performed sacrifices 2,000 years earlier, and we could see the ceramic remains as well as the animal bones and, eventually, the human skeletal remains from so long ago, right there in front of us perfectly preserved! This was our favorite day's adventure, it was really unique and one of a kind!
The other real highlight was when we slept overnight on a Mayan ruin. Ka'ana organized for a luxury tent, complete with a full king bed with great linens and everything we could expect, to be set up in the main plaza beside a ruin. When we arrived we toured the ancient city with the archaeologist who had excavated the ruins, and he was very impressive in his knowledge as well as his storytelling! When we got to the main plaza, there were candles everywhere and they had set up a private table for our meal. It really was exceptional as there was nobody else in the entire area! After dinner, we climbed the main temple and had drinks on top with the archaeologist before retiring to our tent. We awoke early to tour a different part of the ruins, and when we came back we had breakfast and then met with a local Mayan Shaman who conducted a ceremonial healing blessing on us, before we returned back to the resort for the rest of the day to relax and reflect on our adventure.
The service all along was really top class, they are there to create whatever you would like and you can tell they enjoy and care about what they do. The spa was very nice, but quite small. There weren’t a large number of options but the massage was extremely good. We had a couple of days to relax at the resort and it worked out very well, although there were plenty more adventures that we would have liked to try out.