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“Great jungle experience!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Macaw Bank Jungle Lodge

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Macaw Bank Jungle Lodge
On the Macal River in the jungle, San Ignacio, Belize   |  
Hotel website
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Hotel amenities
Special Rate
4th Night Free
Ranked #2 of 26 San Ignacio B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Lowell, Michigan, United States
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Great jungle experience!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 15, 2014

Though we were here only 2 nights, we had a great time!! Ron, Al, and Henri were so kind and helpful! If you needed anything, they would immediately act on it! And the food......WOW..it was like dining at a 5 star restaurant in the middle of the jungle! So good! Very well kept grounds! And the cabana where you eat had great ambience!

The ride up can be a little tricky, like all Beliean roads, but well worth it! You won't regret it!
Ron has a wealth of information about things to do, Belizean life, directions to places...etc.!
Thanks so much guys!! We thoroughly enjoyed our stay...boys especially liked the jungle drums:)!

  • Stayed April 2014, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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273 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (48)
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English first
Brunstatt, France
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 13, 2014

We stayed at Macaw Bank Lodge for 4 nights and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Ron and Al really took care of us and ensured that we felt right at home. Their hard work over the years to create a jungle lodge that is both ecological and comfortable has paid off and the authenticity of the establishment is evident from the original design of the cabanas and their decoration. We stayed in the Cotton Tree Cabana which was very comfortable with it's own screened in sitting room and and outdoor shower. The location of the lodge is ideal if you have a 4x4 car, as the road to access the lodge was temporarily a bit challenging due to recent storms. Situated close to mountain pine ridge and Caracol and not too far from San Ignacio, the lodge is a great place to base yourself for site-seeing and adventure. The location of the lodge is also an advantage in the evenings and overnight as the temperature cools off considerably and is refreshing. One of the highlights of our stay were the great meals made from quality ingredients. More than we could eat! Ron and Al were always on hand to hear about our day and help plan our next excursions. We got to know them quite well and spent enjoyable moments chatting with them. We would highly recommend Macaw Bank Lodge to anyone looking for an authentic jungle experience.

Room Tip: Go for the Cotton Tree Cabana which is the most spacious and unique with outdoor shower and screened...
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  • Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Apple Valley, Minnesota
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 6, 2014

Where to start? After looking at several different jungle lodges in the area, we finally decided on Macaw Bank and we are so glad that we did. The location is beautiful, the cabanas are unique and charming (no cookie cutter hotel suites), and the owners and their help were great. Ron and Al made this such a wonderful and personal experience. In only a few days we felt like we were staying with old friends.

About the lodge itself- Yes, you need four wheel drive and yes the drive is worth it! My husband was a little nervous on our first drive down the road but by the end of our stay we really enjoyed the drive, it really added to the jungle adventure. (They are also on a wait list for road repair). The grounds are beautiful! There are nice trails on the property to view some amazing trees. The river tubing was serene and beautiful. I loved eating in the open restaurant and was pleasantly surprised with the lack of bugs. The food was fantastic! Both Ron and Al are great cooks. The breakfasts were delicious and gave us plenty of energy for active days. The dinners were equally delicious and trust me you will not leave hungry!

Our room - The rooms all have their own unique appeal (Ron gave me a tour). We stayed in the Cotton tree which was very private and we loved the outdoor shower. It was so nice after our days adventures to shower and watch the sky change colors as the sun was setting while listening to the birds. It also had a screened in porch great for relaxing, though the bugs weren't really a problem when we were there. The lack of a/c was never an issue, the temp drops at night and plenty of ventilation made for the perfect sleeping temp.

Activities - Our first day we chose to take it easy we lounged in the restaurant drinking coffee and chatting with Ron after breakfast. We then tubed down the river and walked some of the trails on the way back. All in all, relaxing and beautiful. Day two after much discussion the night before we decided to drive to Caracol to see the ruins. We were so glad that we did, you can still climb up all of the ruins there. We stopped at two waterfalls after; Rio on pools was great to swim and cool off (this would be great for kids), but we wished we had more time to spend at Black Rock Falls (not ideal for kids because of many steep steps) because it was less crowded and beautiful. Day three, our favorite excursion, ATM cave! Ron and Al arranged for us to be picked up by James (we highly recommend him) from Natural Wonders Expedition. We were deciding between a few caves and Ron and Al thought we would like ATM. Right again, guys! If you have a moderate fitness level and don't mind being wet and fitting through a couple tight places you have to go! Day four - We had a late afternoon flight home so we had planned to leave early and go to the Belize zoo, however we ended up choosing to enjoy the grounds and hang out with the guys one last time.

Our Macaw Bank experience was fantastic from the beautiful location, the friendly and knowledgeable service, the delicious food, and the great variety of activities. Whether you are looking for relaxation or jungle adventure you will find it here. Our only regret with this stay is that we didn't skip the beach and stay here for our whole trip.

  • Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Redmond, Washington
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 30, 2014

From our first night taking the innertubes down the river, to our last morning with Banana Pancakes Especiale, our time at the Jungle Lodge was grand. Ron and Al were truly dedicated to our experience and went out of their way to ensure we were taken well care of. We really enjoyed the gourmet meals and the late night chat sessions. The owners, Ron and Al, made us feel like a part of the family. Their staff is super friendly and eager to please. The rooms are immaculate and cozy. You get a true jungle experience. The cabins allow you to hear the sounds of the jungle, protected in your bed with full screens on every window, a screened porch and a gentle breeze at night to cool us down. Take the time to look and listen. We saw several birds, including some rare ones and heard countless more. We looked at some other local "jungle" lodges and felt they were much more commercialized. We wanted and got the authentic experience with just the right amount of home town comforts thrown in. It was a great experience for our adult children. Wouldn't have changed a thing. Thanks you guys.

Room Tip: I think all of the cabins have their unique attributes. Ours had a screened porch and we loved it...
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  • Stayed March 2014, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brooklyn, New York
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 17, 2014

In short, a fantastic jungle setting where birds and history surround you with comfortable, rustic cabins. The real deal.

The Macaw Bank Lodge is an out of the way place that is well worth the trip. Ron and Al, the owners who are a long way from their roots in Baltimore, have worked hard to provide a comfortable jungle lodge experience with nicely decorated, isolated cabins and an open air thatched roof dining room where hearty, home-style meals are served.

Evening meals are full of questions on the activities of the day and Ron and Al are very interest in hearing all about the adventures. Al cooks the meals in the small thatched kitchen adjacent to the dining room while Ron serves as bartender. Be sure to have him make you his specialty - an icy cold piña colada made from fresh pineapple. A real tasty treat. The meals vary and are set per day but they will accommodate your dietary needs. Our favorite meal was the fish with the shrimp ceviche appetizer. They will pack you a lunch for your adventures too.

Definitely save a day to explore the exceptional grounds with many walking trails that will take you past an ancient Ceiba tree, over the stream on a rope and wood slat footbridge and along the Mecal River. No need to go anywhere else for birding as the grounds are host to many native species as well as migratory birds. There was a nesting Northern Potoo and a Ferruginous Pigmy Owl to name a few. We went river tubing on a day when the river was relatively calm and floated blissfully past limestone walled jungle expanses while spotting many more birds along the way.

Ron arranged for our Caracol adventure with our guide, James Mex (pronounced Mesh), who lives in the the local Mayan village of San Antonio and is very knowledgeable on all native flora and fauna as well as the Mayan culture. As part of the trip to Caracol we wanted a bird guide and we couldn’t have asked for a better guide and highly recommend him! The trip to Caracol is 45 miles away so if you are not into a long, off road adventure then there is Xunantunich just outside of San Ignacio, but the reward of the best Mayan site in Belize is definitely worth it - and less crowded too. One of the bonuses of going to Caracol was seeing the nesting Montezuma's Oropendula. I felt like I was in a nature documentary with David Attenborough narrating in my ear. Fascinating and joyful. (Cornell Ornithology has a website of Neotropical birds with calls and I have since listened to the M.O. and I am instantly transported.) We stopped at the Rio On Pools and waterfalls on the way back for a refreshing swim. The waterfalls are striking against the black granite rock that is predominant in the area.


ADDITIONAL NOTES:
A four wheel drive vehicle is needed to get to the lodge, anything less and you are likely to get stuck in the washed out, unpaved roads, which is TYPICAL for Belize beyond the main "highways". The owners will pick you up in San Ignacio (for a fee) but if that can't happen you can get a four wheel drive taxi by the bus station. Be sure to negotiate the price before getting in the cab. From there it's about a 40 minute drive.

The cabins have electricity for the two lights in the cabin, with one in the bathroom. The electricity works on solar power with a backup generator for when the sun doesn’t shine. There are oil lamps in the cabins for when the electricity is shut off around 10pm. Have a flash light handy for mid night trips to the bathroom - it’s very dark. (the bathroom is within the cabin).

The Wi-Fi service is limited at best and personally did not have any luck with the connection. That was fine by me as I didn’t go to the jungle just to stay connected to the outside world.

The use of the tubes are complimentary and though the return pick up is not provided we did arrange for Henry - one of the staff- to pick us up. The walk back was a mile and though in our younger years this would have been a cake walk, it was a relief not to have to walk back with the tubes.

Nature abounds so if you are not into bugs, spiders, bats, etc then go somewhere else (meaning stay out of the jungle period.) While the cabins are clean they do house the errant spider - a good thing as they eat the mosquitos and bugs. The jungle is nocturnal and comes alive as the sun sets. The local bats found that our roof was the perfect place to hang while eating the ripe fruit on the tree behind our cabin. We heard a lot about the loud howler monkeys and were fortunate that they were at a distance away that we didn’t need the ear plugs we brought for that reason. I loved all of the noises, and yes including the bats - beats the sound of honking cars in Brooklyn any day!

Before booking this place online I looked at the other lodges in the area with criteria such as cost, setting, etc. We really wanted it to be as natural as possible and it was the perfect place on all levels. We had the chance to check out other local lodges on our river tubing trip - stopping for lunch at one lodge and had a drink at yet another. Both of these lodges had their charms but were more expensive on all accounts - food and accommodations. One "eco" lodge looked like parts of it was bulldozed, then re-landscaped with concrete paths. That kind of place may appeal to many but if you want a more rustic, natural setting, with charming hosts then Macaw Bank is your place.

Room Tip: We liked the Jaguar cabin with the screened in porch.
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  • Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Shelburne, Vermont
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 1, 2014

Ron and Al are great hosts! They acted as informal travel agents, setting us up with local guides using our own rented 4-wheel drive jeep. This saved us considerable money over the other option of being driven around by a tour operator. The food was hearty and delicious, way above average, costing $28/dinner for adults, $14 for children. We really felt like we were in the heart of the jungle but with all of the creature comforts. The simple "rustic elegant" cottages are built right into the forest. Definitely plan arriving in a 4-wheel drive vehicle so you can take advantage of the amazing ruins and natural offerings of the area The kids loved swimming in the river after a hot day of touring Mayan ruins, walking the trails or zip-lining. Our kids are begging us to take them back.

  • Stayed February 2014, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Michigan
Top Contributor
68 reviews 68 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 30 cities Reviews in 30 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 20, 2014

Those were our most repeated words during our stay at Macaw Bank! Just getting there was an OMG experience! Let me preface my review by sharing that I am a born and bred "city girl" used to city streets and city lights. So driving through the jungle, bouncing on rutted and rain washed mountainous "roads" and through creeks was an amazing OMG adventure! We are eternally thankful Ron emailed us before our arrival to let us know that 4 wheel drive vehicles were "strongly recommended". Although our trip was planned for February (supposedly after rainy season), the rain continued daily and played havoc with their roads. When we arrived at Macaw Bank Jungle Lodge we were astonished that a piece of paradise had been cut out of the jungle. The cabins Ron and Al envisioned and built are private havens complete with the jungle OMG experience. Ron and Al are hosts (and chefs) extraordinaire! Their staff is caring and sees to all your needs with a smile (even the city girl OMG experiences!) The meals we enjoyed (breakfast and dinner all 5 days) were delicious and prepared to our specific dietary needs. The fish we were served our first evening was truly the best fish I have ever eaten! Al sat with us for our evening meals and was a wealth of information about how and where we should spend our time in their beautiful part of Belize. Ron or Al made our reservations for each days' adventure (we highly recommend zip lining at Calico Jack's!) They also can recommend and make reservations with local guides - for after dark jungle walks or to visit and explore Mayan ruins. Our last day we chose not to venture out in our jeeps, but rather to use the inner tubes provided and tube the Macal River. That was a beautiful experience! Be sure to follow their directions and stay in the middle of the river! I feel I need to explain my "sleep quality" rating. I've already shared I'm a city girl, so some of the jungle critters were not to my liking. They, however, liked me and seemed to seek me out. The beds themselves were quite comfortable (we actually stayed in 2 separate cabins during our stay). It was my own fear (after seeing the local spiders up close and personal) that kept me from sleeping comfortably. Special note also that although wi-fi is available, remember that you are in the jungle and the wi-fi service has a limited distance area so wi-fi will not be available in your cabin. Also, if there's cloud cover, wi-fi seems to disappear completely.

Room Tip: If you would like a cabin with a screened porch, choose a wood cabin. The thatched roof huts have o...
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  • Stayed February 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
macawbank, Owner at Macaw Bank Jungle Lodge, responded to this review, February 28, 2014
Again I would like to thank you for taking your time to write us a review

It seems that you did in fact enjoy your stay with us, and I am certain the rest of the family did as well.

I must respond that it seems we get the less than favorable reviews when things that are completely out of our control occur, i.e. the weather. Please realize that we had endured a six month period in which it rained on a daily basis after having torrential down pours in the expected month of September, and the unexpected month of November. The weather left us incapable of doing road repairs due to the fact that many of the roads in Belize suffered equal, if not worse damage than we, and when the weather finally returned to normal the machinery we need to hire was tied up, and we were put on a waiting list.

I understand that you did make this trip in order to bond with your family, and I am certain this did indeed occur, as I have received personal follow up from other family members.

It is also notable that this experience in authentic, and it did take you out of your element. This is part of our purpose. You were actually at a genuine eco lodge that has been recognized by environmental groups as one of the most eco friendly lodges in Belize. For many referring to themselves as eco friendly, or jungle lodge is nothing more than a marketing tool. This is genuine !!!

I hope this review, and my response will help people understand that they are coming to a genuine jungle experience, and we receive almost nothing but the highest of praise for what we are doing,This is what makes this all worthwhile.

Please also understand that the condition of road also stressed us out, but remained passable, and in no way was a threat to any ones safety. If safety had been an issue, we would have had to close the lodge, and directed guests elsewhere, as putting the guests safety in jeopardy is the last thing we intend to do.

I am grateful that most guests accepted the situation as part of the adventure, and I did make special effort to email guests in order to make them aware of road conditions.

It is also notable that you chose to stay in a jungle environment, and with this sometimes come critters. We did have a mosquito net in your room, and we do exterminate the rooms every two months in order to avoid any type if infestation. However, the occasional spider, or gecko do manage to find their way in the rooms sometimes, and more so when it is raining.We have never had any one hurt by any of these harmless creatures which do in fact eat the more bothersome insects This is a tropical rainforest environment.

Another issue to address is that this is a living jungle environment. The wildlife here is generally nocturnal, and active during the night. We also get sleep quality complaints for this reason, and sometimes people need to get used to this night time activity, and sometimes cannot sleep wondering what is moving about in the jungle. This is part of the adventure. This is not a sterilized jungle, but a genuine living eco system. You are in the jungle !!!!!!!

In addressing your complaint about the internet service, It is imperative that folks coming here realize that they are not coming to surf the net. This is a free service we provide, and yes, it can be spotty. We living, and you visiting, are in a developing nation where internet service has much more recently been introduced than in the west. We must depend on a satellite that has been set up to service the US market, therefore, when the weather is bad we do not pick up a full signal rendering us without service. Fortunately, this does not happen all of the time, but in times of bad weather.

I am grateful for your review, as I hope it will let other guests realize that they are coming to a special place, and sometimes special places come with special problems, and no one has ever suffered injury from our special problems.

Overall, I am certain you enjoyed your experience, and am happy for that. I am also grateful that your review could help us to weed out folks who may believe they are coming to a Disney experience as opposed to authentic.If our guest are not happy, we are not happy !!

Sincere thanks for writing.

Ron
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Additional Information about Macaw Bank Jungle Lodge

Address: On the Macal River in the jungle, San Ignacio, Belize
Phone Number:
Location: Belize > Cayo > San Ignacio
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 26 B&Bs / Inns in San Ignacio
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Number of rooms: 5
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Family friendly, romantic honeymoon destination, naturalist paradise, ornithologist will especially love our beautiful Macal River frontage with access to many activities and adventures. Cabanas are private, secluded, spacious, clean, with screened windows,private deck or veranda, private baths, fans, and lights. Many activities available. Volleyball, croquet, river tubing, hiking, bird watching, etc. Tours are arranged complimentary. Close to ATM Caves, Caracol, Belize Botanical Gardens,zip line, horseback riding, San Ignacio town and market, Xunantunich, Greenhills Butterfly Ranch, Barton Creek Cave, Eljio Panti National Park, and much more... Tubes provided complimentary for guests. Canoeing available. WI-FI provided free of charge. Restaurant on premises, gift shop, bar. Five miles of well groomed nature trails,ancient trees, park like jungle setting, hammocks,lending library, ping pong table,telescope for use by our star gazing guests, camping also available. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Macaw Bank Jungle Hotel San Ignacio
Macaw Bank Jungle Lodge Belize/San Ignacio

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