Once you arrive at the remote clearing that is Pook’s Hill Lodge (tel. 501/820-2017, pooks-hill [at] btl [dot] net, www.pookshillbelize.com , US$148198), you’ll have a hard time believing that you are only 12 miles from Belmopan  and 21 miles from San Ignacio , so dense and peaceful is the forest around you. Towering hardwoods, flowering bromeliads, and exotic birds hem in the accommodations, which are built around a small Maya residential ruin.
Pook’s Hill is a 300-acre private nature reserve, bordered by the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve  and the Roaring River and offering active travelers 10 thatch-roof, midscale cabanas from which to base their Cayo explorations. The cottages have private baths, electricity, and comfortable furnishings. The lounge/bar area overlooks a grassy knoll that gently slopes toward the creek; be sure to take advantage of one of the many natural history books in the bookcase.
The dining room is downstairs from the lounge, and good, filling meals are served family style. Vegetarian or other preferences can be accommodated with advance notice. There are plenty of guided walks, birding, tubing, and night walks, all free to guests. Pook’s Hill is the only lodge within walking distance of Actun Tunichil Muknal and offers early morning private tours before the crowds arrive.
To get there, look for the hand-painted sign at Teakettle Village (around Mile 52.5 of the Western Highway); turn left and follow the signs to Pook’s Hill for 5.5 miles (there are a couple of turns). The road can be rough and four-wheel drive is recommended, as is calling ahead so they know to expect you.