Cotton Tree Lodge is located in the Toledo District of southern Belize. Most of our neighbors, are Mayan subsistence farmers living in small villages. However, Garinagu, Mestizo, Creoles, East Indian, Chinese, and Mennonite people also make their home here, along with European and American expats, missionaries, and non-profit workers. Toledo is a unique and diverse place and we celebrate the many cultures here through community events like the Toledo Cacao Festival and Maya Day at Tumul K’in Center of Learning.
Cotton Tree Lodge is located between two Maya villages, San Felipe and Santa Ana. Many lodge employees come from these villages, and Cotton Tree Lodge strives to be a good neighbor. Both the lodge and guests have made donations of sports equipment and school supplies to the local primary schools. Several tours visit Mayan homes and farms in these villages, giving guests an unusual opportunity for cultural interaction and understanding, as well as sending money into the local economy.
We have partnered with a non-profit called Sustainable Harvest International which teaches sustainable agriculture techniques to farmers all over Central America, and works closely with several communities near Cotton Tree. SHI oversees a demonstration garden at the lodge which hosts workshops attended by local farmers.
Many guests have asked how they can give something back to the communities near Cotton Tree Lodge. You might consider volunteering with Sustainable Harvest’s programs for a day and working directly with local communities. You can also donate school supplies to the local primary schools in the villages of Santa Anna and San Felipe. The most requested items include math workbooks, notebooks, pencils, and any other general school supplies. Please do not bring anything requiring batteries or replacement parts. Please pack your donations in your luggage and do not mail them – the recipients of international packages are often taxed on the contents. It is sometimes possible to arrange a brief visit for you to personally deliver your donations to the local schools. Please e-mail us firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about appropriate contributions.
For more information about what to bring, refer to our page on Pack for a Purpose.