New Tourism Facilities at Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve’s Rio on Pools

by Carolee Chanona

As the district that borders Guatemala, Cayo inspires irresistible Latin and Maya flavors that go on full display every Saturday morning; the local farmer’s market in San Ignacio fill with stalls from diverse ethnic backgrounds — fitting for Belize’s “breadbasket.” And in its interior Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, travelers can tap into their inner explorer; a trek through towering pines to nearby waterfalls, the limestone Rio Frio Cave, or even the Caracol Maya Site. Now, thanks to the Sustainable Tourism Program (STP) II, facilities at Rio On Pools got some much-appreciated upgrades: a visitors’ pavilion, a panoramic viewing area, two public restrooms, and changing rooms. Not to mention, enhancements to the Rio Frio Cave also, with three picnic palapas, restroom, and new access trails.

Cayo is home to the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, carpeting 300 impressive square kilometers in the Maya Mountains. Established as a natural treasure in 1944, there’s lots to explore before retreating to open-air accommodations within. Explore resorts inside the Cayo District here.

Eco-Friendly Enhancements

Both Rio On Pools and Rio Frio Cave facilities will now have eco-friendly sewage systems. Meanwhile, the supply of water will be powered by solar energy. Parking area upgrades are also planned for these two sites under the project. Additionally, informational and directional signs have been installed throughout the reserve; this extends along the Caracol access roads, too.  After all, the Mountain Pine Ridge area presents a significant opportunity for both local and international tourism. The area has already seen an increase in visitors recently. All in all, the area is a recreational tourism hub and gateway to the adjacent protected areas of the Chiquibul and the Caracol Archaeological Reserve.

Enhancements were made under the Sustainable Tourism Program (STP) II, which is a five-year program financed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and executed through the Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations.

All images not labeled courtesy Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations

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