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Banana Bank Lodge & Jungle Horseback Adventure
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Reviewed February 9, 2014

I was 2013 president of the California Cowboy Lawyers Association. A group of judges and lawyers who ride 5 or 6 times a year in gorgeous venues across California, we ride and play hard! I decided to plan our first international trip. Belize is an unspoiled tropical paradise, but Banana Bank exemplifies all that is good in Belize.
John and Carolyn Carr have created art in the design and layout of the lodging. Graceful, colorful, serene, and private, the larger buildings strikingly combine a French Caribbean chateau style infused with color and curves with indigenous woods and thatch cabanas with hand made stained glass. Eclectic, charming, interesting; the buildings and layout are themselves art, which is not surprising given that Carolyn Carr is one of Belize's most talented fine artists.
John has earned his reputation as the horse-whisperer of Belize. He has about 95 head of push-button horses.... Probably the best-trained mounts we have experienced on rides where we don't take our own horses. John's wranglers, too, are all one would hope for... Handy and knowledgable, super friendly and energetic , and seem to sincerely revel in guiding your trek through dense jungles where they identified the abundant wild life and explained native uses of medicinal and other useful plants.
The trails were simply breathtakingly beautiful, and although we rode all day every day, given the 4,000 acre size, we never ran out of something new to see and trails to explore.
John and Carolyn's daughter, Leisa, knows her stuff, too. Sweet as sugar, but really serious about ensuring that all is going perfectly for every guest from start to finish, the Carrs are very lucky to have her taking Banana Bank to a new level. Leisa is credited especially with arranging and guiding us on a unique and memorable night jungle ride that culminated in us arriving at our destination -- a huge blazing campfire where we had tropical cocktails and, of course, Beliken beers, and toasted marshmallows!
The food is excellent, super fresh, (mostly all produced right there on site), plentiful, and varied.
Some of us wanted to do other activities, too, and Leisa arranged all for the smoothest, fun, and convenient off-ranch excursions ever.
For all this one would expect to pay a lot, but the prices are incredibly reasonable. Can't recommend it enough, and would happily speak to anyone interested in more detail.

  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled with friends
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2  Thank Dee Y
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 30, 2014

We stayed here for two nights while we explored this area of Belize. We had a very good time. We were treated like family. The dining was family style with the owners and other guests. The conversation was lively and interesting. The owners and staff were helpful in assisting us with our river cave kayaking adventure. The premises were tranquil and exotic. There was a small "zoo" on the grounds and a beautiful swimming pool. We woke to the sounds of tropical birds. The rooms were decorated with prints of original art works done by one of the owners. Some people were there just to relax and some for adventure, bird watching, or exploring. This place was good value!

  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Rita H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 4, 2014

I am saying that this is an average place, mostly based against very average places that I have stayed in the States. It is…interesting.

To start things off, it is so incredibly hard to find!! We arrived later than we intended, due to unforeseen circumstances and had a nearly impossible time of finding it. We were finally directed to the right road by a very nice gas station attendant and were on our way. After driving past the Hummingbird Highway, you go all the way to the Weststa gas station (spelling, sorry), turn right and drive down a bumpy road for a few miles and then turn right at the Banana Bank Lodge sign (no lights), go two additional miles, don't hit a horse and then you will be at the parking lot. There are no lights on the path from the lot to the office, which is near the lot, but we didn't see a soul, but heard a church service going on, so we went near there. No one around. Finally ran into someone to help us, after making a call to the office and got into our palapa. Incredibly underwhelmed by that thing as it is RUSTIC, much more so than what I felt like was advertised. Ended up changing rooms, which was no problem, so it actually worked out. Meals were average, it was a bit like staying at a camp when you were a kid, which was sorta nostalgic, but for the price, not really what I was expecting/hoping for when I booked. Did not do a horseback ride, did use the pool. Staff is friendly, to a point, and helpful when necessary. Owner is a real character, but his wife is lovely and friendly. This place has a lot of potential to be a bit of a rustic destination in the jungle, but it isn't updated enough to charge what they do per night. It seems like they are slowly making improvements around the property, which is good, but I can't see ever staying there again.

Was actually angry to learn that the dinner that we ate there the night of arrival was $15 US per person. That was maybe the most expensive dinner that we had in Belmopan and also the least tasty. Makes me wish that I had said something about the hair that I found in my potatoes! Also, they didn't mention that there is a 3.5% charge to use a credit card, which is important to note.

  • Stayed: December 2013, traveled on business
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2  Thank plilr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 16, 2013

We loved Banana Bank. The staff was all wonderful and friendly, the grounds beautiful, and the animals were great. I read a review that talked about roaches, but we never saw anything like that. Just mosquitos, but it had been raining. If you want a family run, family style place to stay, I'd recommend Banana Bank. Lovely, lovely people. Thanks again :)

  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled with family
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Thank Cyndi B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 12, 2013

We arrived at Banana Bank Lodge and the property was stunning. The grounds are well kept and the location was great, being out in the country and away from the stereotypical tourist destinations. They have an assortment of animals on the property including macaws, parrots, a monkey and even a jaguar named Tika. This is a 4000 acre ranch with 115 head of horses for your enjoyment. It is located a short drive from many attractions such as Mayan archaeological sites, cave tubing and zip line through the forest. They provide horse back tours of the jungle at the facility. John and Carolyn Carr are wonderfully welcoming to their piece of eden and take good care of their guests. I will return someday.

Room Tip: The rooms upstairs from the office are air conditioned and more a/c/ rooms are coming available. Don't choose the economy rooms although they are cheap they are dormitory style and some people don't realize this.
  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled with friends
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1  Thank skjdave
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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