From Orange Walk, the journey to Gallon Jug takes about three hours, allowing plenty of time to look out for wildlife along the way. Due to its remote location, and the elimination of hunting, regular animal sightings can be expected. From La Milpa Field Station to Gallon Jug, there is an incredible abundance of birds. The toucan, Belize’s national bird, is particularly plentiful. On this drive, it is impossible not to stop to watch or take pictures. It is smart to keep the camera handy, because you never know what you’re going to see.
Also plentiful are Chachalaca and Aracari Toucanets, among other smaller birds more difficult to recognize without binoculars and a bird book. Closer to the Gallon Jug area, there are many Wild Turkeys along the road. There are also common sightings of the jaguar, as well as troops of howler and spider monkeys.
Upon entering the vicinity of Gallon Jug, which is private property, visitors must pass a barrier gate, and report to the caretaker. Chan Chich Lodge is located near Gallon Jug, and is the only lodge in the area. Since this is private property, everyone entering must be prepared to state their purpose of visit. It is almost certain that each visitor will see deer and wild turkey driving toward Chan Chich. The grassy greens on both sides of the road are also a perfect playground for the white-tailed and Bracket deer.
The entire area that is now Rio Bravo and Gallon Jug was once logging territory. The area of Gallon Jug was once owned by Belize Estate & Produce Company, a logging operation. Up until the mid 1960′s, these areas were selectively logged for hardwood trees, primarily mahogany and cedar. Logs were transported via railroad to Hillbank Lagoon, 45 miles away. From Hillbank, the logs were floated to Belize City via the New River Lagoon and Orange Walk. They were then shipped to England from Belize City, or used locally.
After years of operation, several factors caused Belize Estates to close down their Gallon Jug operation. In 1984, Belizean businessman Barry Bowen purchased the company, which came along with over 750,000 acres of land (approximately 1/6 of the country). After subdividing the property, some 137,000 acres were retained, upon which sit the current operations at Gallon Jug and Chan Chich Lodge. Gallon Jug is now the site for experimental farming practices, including corn, soybean, sugar cane, coffee and cacao.
Apart from the amazing diversity of wildlife in the area, ancient and mostly undiscovered Mayan sites also dot the property. Ten miles of well-marked nature trails have been created to allow guests uninhibited exploration of these sites and the awesome beauty and wildlife that abound.