February 17 – 24, 2018 – Sold Out
To be updated when we post 2019 dates, send an email to email@example.com.
Join Dandelion Chocolate for a week exploring Belize while learning how cacao is grown and processed, for both fun and education! You’ll stay near Punta Gorda at the Chaab’il B’e Lodge and Casitas and learn about Maya Mountain Cacao and their work in the region. While in Belize you’ll see and learn about fermenting, drying, and shipping cacao. While there are some consistent aspects to these processes, the details make all the difference between mediocre and incredible cacao. Genetics and terroir are important factors but the final processing is truly an art form.
Wondering if this trip is right for you? We recommend Belize for those of you visiting your first cacao farm or looking to get in touch with cacao history or traditions. Belize is located in the heart of the origins of cacao and we get to see more of the Maya culture (as well as the many other cultures coming together in Southern Belize) on our trip to Belize. Because there are so many cultural experiences here we also think this trip appeals to those of you bringing along a partner who doesn’t love chocolate as much as you do. Perhaps they’ll love learning Kriol drumming or enjoy exploring a spice farm.
Dandelion leads the trip to Southern Belize with a combination of chocolate makers, chocolate lovers and typically an agriculture enthusiast or two. The goal of this trip is to give a thorough understanding of how cacao is grown (specifically in Belize), an overview with some practical experience in fermentation and drying, and an appreciation for the history of cacao in Belize and a cultural understanding of the people living in Southern Belize. Oh, and to enjoy a really beautiful part of the world!
This following was our agenda for last year’s trip which is subject to change but gives you a sense as to what you’ll be doing. All of the scheduled activities are optional and there are additional opportunities to explore Belize on your free day.
Day 1 – Arrival
Fly into Punta Gorda where you’ll be picked up and taken to our accommodations at Chaab’il B’e Lodge & Casitas. Meet everyone, and get an overview of the agricultural side of chocolate making at Dinner from Dandelion Chocolate’s Chocolate Sourcerer, Greg D. Cacao dinner at the lodge. Decide on Free Day activities.
Day 2 – Farms and Culture!
Walk with Eladio around his farm, see how an agro-farm is built and taste the delightful plants he grows. Have lunch with his family and learn to make the traditional Maya cacao drink.
Dinner at the lodge followed by a discussion about Fair Trade vs Direct Trade Cacao
Day 3 – Spice Farm Tour and Traditional Chocolate Making at Ixcacao and Drum School
The day starts with a 30-minute ride up to the Spice Farm where the group tours and learns about spices like vanilla and pepper used to flavor chocolate. A wonderful lunch is served at the Spice Farm.
Learn the history and culture of Cacao and try your hand at traditional chocolate making with a metate, a traditional stone grinder.
Dinner will be at the Warasa Garifuna Drum School. Learn about Garifuna drum culture and eat Huduit-the traditional Garifuna fish stew with root veg and plantain.
Day 4 – Fermentation, Farms, History and Fun
Learn about Maya Mountain and how they work with cacao in Belize with a visit to their fermentary. In addition, we’ll visit their experimental farm where farmers get to try out different techniques to test their effectiveness (weather dependent since rain nullifies the “road” to the demo farm). Lunch at the lodge.
In the afternoon, Nim Li Punit ruins. The site offers beautiful vistas, nice birding and has a lovely little museum giving the history of the site.
In the evening – Firehearth Cooking and Kriol Drumming – Dinner will be at the purpose-built thatch near Joe Taylor creek close to Punta Gorda Town. The group starts with a nature walk around the garden where they will pick and collect herbs, spices, and veg for dinner. Then, they move to the kitchen for a brief overview of firehearth cooking and assist with the food prep. Typical dishes include hot chocolate chicken, steamed mango fish, chaia greens stewed in annatto sauce and yellow ginger coconut gravy over cassava.
While dinner is cooking, the fun begins with a high energy drum lesson.
Day 5 – Xibun River Estate Cacao
Now that you’ve learned about farms, fermentation, and chocolate making its time to go deeper. We’ll spend a few hours driving to a 400-acre farm established many years ago by Hershey’s to see what a larger scale farm/plantation looks like. While we are visiting Xibun we’ll stop by a Blue Hole for some swimming! Dinner back at the lodge.
Day 6 – Free Day
Use the day to do whatever you’d like to do. Pair up or go enjoy your solitude.
Free choices at the lodge – walk the trails, bird and howler monkey watching, take a swim at the swimming hole, use the wifi to update everyone on your adventures, learn to make corn tortillas with Chaab’il Be’s Maya staff.
Or we’ll set up an additional tour (not included in trip pricing) – learn to make tofu and tofu dishes with Gomier, or, join one of PG Tours offerings like snorkeling, Blue Creek Cave or the Rio Blanco Falls and National Park.
Dinner at the lodge.
Day 7 – Belcampo
The morning is spent with the Belcampo chocolatier learning the science of fine chocolate making. After learning, you make your own chocolate bars. Lunch is at Belcampo.
The afternoon offers a choice of activities around the lodge. For those interested in more chocolate, you can go to the farm and view the harvest, learning more about the preferred types of cacao for fine chocolate and how to identify it. For those ready for a break from chocolate(say it’s not true!), there are gardens to tour, a river to kayak and trails to walk. A special last dinner will be served back at Chaab’il B’e Lodge.
Day 8 – Departure
On the last day, we’ll depart from Belize full of cacao, new friends, and information :)
For a more detailed account of what our Chocolate 301 Trip is like, check out this blog post from Molly, an excellent wordsmith overseeing our communications, who attended the trip during her previous role as a chocolate maker. Note that our trip has changed since this was written; we stay at a different lodge and have added a few more cultural additions to our agenda.
We will be staying at Chaab’il Be Lodge and Casitas. These are located on 26 acres of jungle with an swimming hole and trails to explore.
We ask for a 25% deposit in order to guarantee your space, the remainder will be due 60 days before the trip. Cancelations in full up to this point. Cancelations less than 60 days prior to the trip, but more than 45 days, will receive a refund less the 25% deposit. Cancelations less than 45 days from the trip will receive no refund.
Dandelion Chocolate is not responsible for lost room nights due to travel delays, road conditions, weather, flooding, or illness. Once you have reserved, we will contact you to share packing lists and background information to help you prepare as well as to arrange additional details (dietary restrictions and any special requests).
Please note that we need a minimum of 6 guests to host this trip. If you reserve a space, we will let you know when we reach the minimum guests. If the minimum number of guests has not been met by 2 months prior to the trip we may elect to cancel the trip.
Our 2018 Trip is Currently Sold Out. If you wish to be informed when we add future trips please email Trips@dandelionchocolate.com to be added to our list and we’ll update you when we set dates for 2019.
All lodge rooms offer A/C, flat screen cable TVs, safe, and shared veranda for enjoying the gardens. Choice of one king bed and one single bed, one full bed and one single bed, two full beds or one queen bed. We will contact you about which arrangement of beds you prefer and will offer these on a first come first serve basis.
Preview an example of these accommodations here.
$2,200 per person based on single occupancy
All lodge rooms offer A/C, flat screen cable tvs, safe, and shared veranda for enjoying the gardens. Choice of one king bed and one single bed, one full bed and one single bed, two full beds or one queen bed. We will contact you about which arrangement of beds you prefer and will offer these on a first come first serve basis.
Preview an example of these accommodations here.
$1,850 per person based on double occupancy
Triple Occupancy Private or Shared Dorm Room
Each casita offers thatched roofed fully screened accommodations with one single bed for each guest, ceiling fan, and en-suite bathroom with hot shower. Enjoy an eco-experience without giving up your comforts.
If you wish to book a triple room with 2 other guests you can let us know and we’ll group you together so that you have a Private Room. If you are a solo traveler we will group you with up to 3 other guests. These rooms will be mixed gender but each guest will have their own bed.
Preview an example of these accommodations here.
$1,675 per person in Private Triple or Dorm Room
Guests are responsible for getting to/from Punta Gorda Airport where they will be greeted and transferred to the lodging (airfare to/from Punta Gorda is not included). The above rates include local ground transfers, accommodations, all meals starting with dinner on arrival night and ending with breakfast on departure day, all group sponsored activities, all taxes, and service charges (gratuity is included). Additional activities on the “Free Day” day and alcohol are not included.
If you have any additional questions please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll happily discuss it in more detail with you! We will also be hosting open office hours throughout the year for you to ask any questions in person.