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“Over 50-No Sweat! Just do It.” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Ian Anderson's Caves Branch Jungle Lodge

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Ian Anderson's Caves Branch Jungle Lodge
3.5 of 5 Lodge   |   Mile 41.5 Hummingbird Highway | P.O. Box 356, Belmopan, Belize   |  
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Hotel amenities
Special Offer
Summer Special to Belize!
Certificate of Excellence 2014
toronto
1 review
“Over 50-No Sweat! Just do It.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 27, 2008

My two middleaged friends and I took the four nights package and had the most wonderful time at CB. The attentions we received did not go unnoticed... from Ella, Ian's wife, as she gave us a guided tour of the developing botanical garden, to Mr. Chan, and his tour of the spectacular orchid greenhouse, to the knowledgable and concerned guides who provided a wonderful adventure river tubing for 7 miles in and out of caves and lastly, kayaking the Siban River for hours, complete wth delicious picnic lunch put on by Niko at rivers edge. The jungle environment is exquisite and in dire need of protection as we noted in other areas of Belize it has been clearcut with nothing but rubble remaining.
The food was very good and plentiful, accomodation a delight, with only a screen to separate one from noisy jungle life.The patrons were fun and very enthusiastic and ready to share their daily adventures. My biggest regret was that we missed the giant tarantula spider that strolled across the dining area floor the night before we arrived. Too bad... next time! Kathie Dick, Oakville Ontario

  • Liked — was jungle adventure lodge that it professed to be-environment was highlight
  • Disliked — drinks were part of our package...Even with 2
  • Stayed December 2007, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 2 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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609 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (212)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Calgary
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
19 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
146 helpful votes 146 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 24, 2008

Summary: Stayed in this well run resort for 4 nights. The overall experience was wonderful and we will be back with family, relative and friends. In my opinion, a jungle experience in Belize is a must, and Caves Branch would be a top choice for all ages seeking an assortment of jungle adventures ranging from easy difficult.
Check-In: You are given a welcome drink and a few legal documents to sign absolving Caves Branch of any liability (snake bites, injuries, etc). Also, a charitable donation form is given (suggested donation of $5US/day) to a youth chess club (hmm … couldn’t they think of a better charity?) Anyway, there is no pressure to contribute and you are simply given the form and asked to return it upon check-out. In summary, the overall check-in experience is quite satisfactory.
Safety Deposit Box: Give your valuables to an employee at the bar and it will be put in a large zip-lock bag and taken away for safekeeping.
Staff: No complaint with staff members – they are all polite and are excellent at their work. Exception - the 2 administrators working in the tiny office in the lobby (I’d give them an average in the personality department).
Payment: There is a 4% surcharge when paying by credit card (AMEX not accepted), so pay by cash (US:Belizian $ is exchanged on a flat 1:2 ratio)
Accommodation: Stayed in one of the newly built bungalows (5 in total). The rooms are extremely large, have a king size bed and 2 bunk beds. Each bungalow has a large washroom with toilet and shower. There is also a private outdoor shower attached to your bungalow, which is a godsend on those hot, sweaty days. Be warned that on only one occasion did we get hot water (around 8:30pm) – appears to be a common complaint amongst guests. The bungalows cannot be locked from the outside (no keys, but there is nothing to be concerned about), and have screens as windows (wonderful for breeze, listening to the rain drops, and jungle sounds). There are no electrical wall outlets (you’ll have to charge your batteries at the office located in the main lobby). There are 2 hammocks on each side of the verandah, and a clothes line. The indoor lighting is very dim (must be using low wattage bulbs), but you do have 4 kerosene lamps. As there are no TV’s, I strongly advise you to bring a reading light (if you like reading books at night). A huge water cooler is supplied in each room and the tap water is supposedly safe to drink as Caves Branch has their own private filtration system. Each room is supplied with a mosquito coil for you to burn (great idea). We did have 4 cockroach type bugs in our room on the very first night, but after capturing and throwing them out of the room, we never saw them again- weather stripping the front doors would eliminate the bug problem. There is rough-in for a wall outlet and cable for TV, so this might be in management’s future plans. Only negative is the road noise whenever cars infrequently use the gravel road leading up to the lobby (avoid bungalows #11 and #15 that are closest to the road). Also, we would get a periodic whiff of sewage odour (bungalow #15)
Food: Served in the lobby, buffet style, and at set times – you sit on a long table, 8 chairs to a table. Although there was a tremendous variety of fresh fruit, salad, soups, and main entrees, the meals can best be described as everyday, wholesome, simple and nutritious food.
Electricity: Belize has the same 110-120V system as the US and Canada. Caves Branch does not have any wall outlets in the rooms, so charge your batteries before checking in. If you really must, the office will charge your battery for you.
Tips: Bring your own Kleenex tissues, reading light, flashlight (it gets quite dark after dinner and you don’t want to be stepping on a poisonous snake), mosquito repellent (minimum 30% Deet) and fully charged batteries. If you can afford it, and subject to availability – I think there’s only 4 with a 5th under construction, try to stay in the newly built tree houses- you won’t regret it!
Tours: Our conclusion, on talking to other guests, is that all the tours offered by Caves Branch are excellent! There is a tour for all age groups and fitness levels. All the guides are well trained, speak excellent English, and are very passionate and knowledgeable about their environment. An excellent lunch is provided on all tours. Our understanding is that the 2 most popular tours are the Waterfall Cave Expedition (very difficult – you should be reasonably fit to do this tour), and the Black Hole Drop (difficult – see below). Other popular tours are River of Caves (with or without Zip line), Mayan Ceremonial cave (it’s like going to a Mayan museum), Lost Mayan ruin Expedition, and Tikal. Every evening, between 6:00 -6:30pm, you get to select your tour for the next day.
Black Hole: You have 3 guides for each group. You are given a backpack with a helmet, harness, and two 1L water bottles to carry (as you are mostly in the shade, a hat or sunscreen is not necessary). You have a short 15 minute bus ride to the starting point (1/2 paved, ½ dirt road). The hardest part of the tour is not the repelling but the approximately 1 ½ hour hike up the mountain as you have to walk through 4 steep narrow, muddy red soil, rocks, and “give-and-take” trees. Thank heavens for the wooden railings on many parts of the trail. The guide often stops for water breaks and an explanation of the flora and fauna around us. While resting at the top, you are given an excellent tutorial on how to repel (hint – pretend you’re walking backwards, down a wall). As the repelling can take anywhere from a couple of minutes to as long as ten minutes (you repel at your own speed), my advise is to take your time, admire the scenery and take pictures. Once you’ve completed the 300 foot repel, you are treated to a wonderful lunch. The way back is extremely breathtaking (take lots of pictures of the caves and scenery). There are 2 short step hikes, a couple of 6-10 foot boulders to climb, and a 24 foot aluminum ladder to climb bringing you back to the half-way mark of the initial trail you take to get to the top. The repelling itself was extremely easy (my wife is extremely afraid of heights). Neither of us got a “rush of adrenaline” most people experience. The highlight for us was the exercise, the nature, the beauty at the top and lower tree canopies, and the crystallization of the rocks in and around the caves. Suggest you be moderately fit as the hike up the trail is quite steep! Bring mosquito repellent for this tour.
Tikal: This is a must tour if you like seeing ruins. Tikal is ranked along with Chichen Itza as a must see site. The only negative is the extremely long time it takes to get to your destination in Guatemala. The travel is quite rough (dirt roads, pot holes, dust for about half the way). The customs at the border is an experience in itself ($19US to exit Belize and $1.50US to enter Guatemala – no extra payment on your re-entry to Belize). Interesting to see 2 modern buildings at the customs border, a “car-wash” type system that fumigates all vehicles, and dirt roads and shops everywhere else! The breakfast and lunch in Guatemala were delicious. Tikal was on par with Chichen Itze (superb tour guide –Edgar Radcliff), gift shop stop was a good place to buy Guatemalan souviniors. You will also be asked if you want to stop at another gift store (suggest you say NO).
You may get motion sickness if there are too many passengers in the vehicle. Be prepared for an extremely long day (leave at 5:30am, come back at 6:30pm -just in time for dinner). Next time I’ll stay in San Ignacio, a bustling town close to the border and start all the Mayan ruin trips from that location (Tikal, Xunantunich, etc). Very tiring but rewarding tour
Lost Mayan Ruin Expedition: Easy walking tour of the jungle, located a short bus ride from Caves Branch. Hat and sunscreen not required, but as there are plenty of mosquitoes, take your insect repellent with you (minimum 30% Deet). Once again, wonderful flora and fauna tour. Get to see and sample some Mayan medicine and food – survival in the jungle. You have lunch at an unexcavated Mayan site (some parts are visible due to vandalism). You leave around 9am, come back around 2:00pm
Departure Tax: There is $36.25US departure tax at the international airport. Check with your airline as your ticket may already have this tax included in your ticket price (I think it may have something to do with the laws of the Country where you purchase the ticket). I saw a VISA sign at the customs booth, so I’m guessing they take credit cards if you don’t have US change

  • Liked — the outdoor adventures; free use of computer in the gift shop; wireless internet available in the lobby
  • Disliked — no night life; dim lights; no internet service available in rooms; no TV or wall outlets
  • Stayed February 2008, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
san diego
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 23, 2008

Overall, a fantastic experience! I went for a Christmas vacation with my family and stayed in a jungle bungalow. Not quite as luxurious as the pictures makes them look, but the surrondings make up for it. Lush, green surrondings and the river right out the door! The food is OK, family style with a local flare. Everyone that works there is helpful and fun.
The tours are the best part about the place. A variety to choose from and each one more fun than the next. We did ATM and the Black Hole Drop. Exciting and exhilirating, even with the constant rain. The tour guides are knowledgeable, english speaking, and very friendly.

Stayed January 2008
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
NYC
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 17, 2008

I stayed at Caves Branch for 6 nights in early January. I stayed in a Cabana. My extended stay provided me an in depth look at the place. I didn't come across other people staying there that long.

According to the guides, the two most popular day trips are:
1) The Black Hole drop
2) Waterfall caving

Many people said that the Waterfall caving is a better experience then cave tubing. Their all day cave tubing does get boring after a while (around 3 hours of paddling).

Bring a flashlight- it gets pitch dark at night!

Advantages:
Amazing, memorable day trips.
Very helpful staff. On the day trips, they go out of their way to make it a safe adventure- helmets, proper gear, safety instructions, watching out for everyone.
The outdoor shower had hot water.
The room was not buggy (lots of screens).

Disadvantages:
Getting there. A personalized pick up $130 US one way. The only other way to get there is a bus, but those are difficult to navigate and slow.
10% sales tax on everything adds up in the end.
Cabana had no electricity and all the screens gave very little privacy.
Guests in the tree house suite said that the tin roof made rainfall very loud, making sleep difficult. One said they had no hot water (temporary problem).
You don't see much wildlife around the lodge.

Overall, Caves Branch makes adventures all around the country easy and fun. But be prepared to pay for it.

  • Liked — Ease and variety of day trips
  • Disliked — The price to get there.
  • Stayed January 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Mateo, California
Top Contributor
95 reviews 95 reviews
61 hotel reviews
Reviews in 51 cities Reviews in 51 cities
122 helpful votes 122 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 3, 2008

Our family of four stayed here for a four-night package, which included all meals and three activities (or one day-long activity and one overnight). Our daughters are ages 7 and 9. We stayed in a "Treehouse", which are the newest rooms at the Lodge. We had a GREAT time in every way. First, our room was very nice. The treehouses are split-level. The lower level of ours (#17) had bunk beds, a sofa, and two chairs, and a coffee table. The floors are stone with grass-type mats (jute or sisal?). The sides were almost all screen - very open to the jungle and river below. The upper level had a king-size bed, a dresser/closet alcove, nightstands, and the bathroom. The bathroom was lovely - all stone and the toilet was in a separate room. A large bottled water dispenser was provided in the bathroom. I found the bed to be quite comfortable. The room was perfectly clean and due to the excellent screens was pretty-much bug free. (This is the jungle so a few bugs are bound to sneak in!) We were very comfortable sleeping in the room and hanging out.

The main lodge is where all meals were held - buffet style. Chips, salsa, and drinks were served at 6pm, and the meal started to arrive at 6:30pm. All meals started with salad and soup, and then moved to fruit (usually 3-4 types), vegetables (3-4 types), carbs (1-2 types), and meats (1-2 types). The foods were quite "accessible" - things like rice-and-beans, au gratin potatoes, steamed squash, roast pork, stewed chicken. All was quite tasty and the kids and we ate very well. It was a treat to have a ton of good fruit and vegetables at every meal. We had absolutely no issues with food safety here - it was clear that they pay a lot of attention to that.

The activities were fabulous. Our daughters were among the youngest kids there, and were not ready for many of the (very cool) adventures. We did a daylong trip to Xunantunich and Cahal Pech. Our van broke down on the trip, and our guide was great about handling it (Pablo). A new van arrived and we hit all the sites on our itinerary. The ruins were wonderful and the guide was very knowledgeable. Our second adventure was the "River Cave Expedition", which was not the standard float down the river for miles thing. We tubed into a cave, and then got out and hiked and climbed. We saw Mayan sculpture in the cave, pottery shards, Mayan firepits, catfish in the river, and lots of bats. Our guide, Esperansa, was wonderful - she paid attention to our safety but made sure we saw everything. Our final adventure was horseback riding at Banana Bank (another lodge in the area). The wranglers were wonderful - and seeing another lodge made us even more impressed with Caves Branch! The ride was not a sissy ride - we took the horses down a muddy creek, through the jungle, and into a teak planting. Again, very interesting!

We were very impressed with the staff at Caves Branch. Most of the guides seem to have been there for many years - our two guides were there 8 and 9 years. Our driver from the airport had been there several years. The guides are highly trained in emergency rescue. We had a medical issue come up (unrelated to anything the Lodge did or our activities) and even the bartender of the night went out of his way to do everything he could for us. All the staff were nice, friendly, and made our time there especially enjoyable.

We already are talking about returning, when our kids are old enough to do the Black Hole Drop and Waterfall adventures! I recommend this place very highly. It surpassed all our expectations.

  • Liked — Great room, good food, excellent activities with excellent guides
  • Disliked — Hot water shower was not very hot
  • Stayed December 2007, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 2 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
chicago
Top Contributor
144 reviews 144 reviews
110 hotel reviews
Reviews in 98 cities Reviews in 98 cities
198 helpful votes 198 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 2, 2008

We stayed here from 12/24 for four nights! We really enjoyed this lodge and can highly recommend it. We stayed first in a Treehouse Suite. These rooms (only four) are gorgeous. (We stayed in Number 19 which I believe has the nicest and highest location). Build up on stilts in the trees. Large rooms and beautiful woods were used. They also provide outside and inside showers. We had a kingsize bed with 400 thread-count sheets and down pillows. The view from the rooms is wonderful and they are all open to the sights and sounds of the rainforest. We then moved to the next category room, a jungle suite. These are the second most expensive rooms, but are rather primitive compared to the treehouses. Very basic, but nice and clean. This is my only gripe with the lodge. The new bungalows which are a price category below the jungle suites are much nicer and all new. More similar actually to the treehouse suites. I am not sure why the hotel is pricing the jungle suites more expensively than the new bungalows. The jungle suites and bungalows are closer to the road into the resort and so you will hear the trucks that take people on to the activities early in the morning.

The setting of the lodge is far removed from towns. It is nicely located at a river. If you are expecting to see much wildlife and to hear many varied jungle sounds, you may be disappointed. The lodge is too large and too populated with tourists to really attract a lot of wildlife. However, you may see some on your tours. I would recommend the all-inclusive packages. They are worth the price. The food however is nothing special and maybe the most disappointing aspect of the lodge. Also, the water pressure is very low and thus it is hard to get a very hot or strong shower.

The tours are very special and wonderful. We did the Waterfall Hike during which you are in a cave for about 2 miles and then you climb waterfalls inside the cave from which you later jump back down. Some as high as about 15 feet. Exhilerating. We also did the repelling which was a wonderful and adventuresome trip. Canoeing was more relaxing. The guides are knowledgable and very professional. I would stay at this lodge again. Great place!

  • Liked — Treehouse Suites
  • Disliked — Food
  • Stayed December 2007, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
VA
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 1, 2008

Would have like to stayed longer!! Our family of four stayed here for 3 nights. The food was excellent--plenty of it and lots of fresh fruit and veggies. Our bugalow was great but close to the mainhouse so we were woken up every morning to the roar of the worker trucks arriving at 7:00. Perhaps a bungalow further away from the road would be quieter. The outdoor shower was fantastic. The tours were the best feature--we took the cave waterfall hike and the tubing/ceremonial cave trip. Expect to be wet the whole time. They tell you to wear hiking boots, but Keens with the closed toe worked just fine and then you have dry hiking boots for the rest of your vacation. The trips were well organized, had knowledgable tour guides and great lunches inside the cave. But is that REALLY 1000 year old Mayan ashes in the caves??!! I would have like to see this resort be a bit more green--because it would be fitting for this place. How about biodgradable soap in the rooms, toilet paper from recycled paper, and dry bags for the tours guides instead of all those ziplock baggies? Nevertheless, a great place.

  • Liked — the caving tours
  • Disliked — noise in the morning
  • Stayed December 2007, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Ian Anderson's Caves Branch Jungle Lodge

Address: Mile 41.5 Hummingbird Highway | P.O. Box 356, Belmopan, Belize
Phone Number:
Location: Belize > Cayo > Belmopan
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 11 Specialty Lodging in Belmopan
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Ian Anderson's Caves Branch Jungle Lodge 3.5*
Number of rooms: 24
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Adventure Travel is what Caves Branch was built on and Adventure Travel is still what Caves Branch is all about. But over the years, the Caves Branch jungle lodge has evolved from extremely rustic Jungle River Camp with outhouses and bathing in the river to our most recent 5 Star Luxury Tree Houses with roof top decks and hot tubs to relax under the stars above. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Ian Anderson`s Caves Branch Jungle Hotel Belmopan
Ian Anderson's Caves Branch Jungle Lodge Belize/Belmopan

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