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“Whole family loved it”

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Ian Anderson's Caves Branch Jungle Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Ithaca, New York, United States
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Whole family loved it”
Reviewed January 10, 2013

Beautiful grounds, beautiful lodging, great food, great tours. It rained for four days straight (our whole stay) so we couldn't do any water tours (which is why we came in the first place) but we had a fantastic stay. The staff is top notch and obviously enjoying their work. I read other reviewers complaining about the food. I don't know if they made a change because the food was well prepared with a lot of different options. I can't imagine any way it could be improved and I love food! We found the Jungle Cabanas to be very dark inside (partially because it was so gloomy outside). I wish I had brought a camping lantern or flashlight that sat up (we had brought head lamps). We were upgraded to a tree house the last night--LOVELY. Ages of our group of 6 ranged from 9 to 72--we all had a good time! We like hiking, birding, board games and swimming. I can understand that this is not the right place for everyone but it was PERFECT for us.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
2 Thank Stacey E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (314)
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English first
Buffalo, NY
Level Contributor
81 reviews
48 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 135 helpful votes
Reviewed January 10, 2013

Getting There:
Caves branch jungle lodge is an adventure lodge approximately 1.5 hours from Belize City just outside of Belmopan Belize. We started our Journey flying into Belize City and paying for transfers from Caves Branch which was prompt and there immediately when we exited the airport. On the way to Caves Branch the driver asked if we would like to stop for lunch at a restaurant on the way which was excellent and local. Upon arrival you will realize how remote this place is. Upon arrival at the lodge there is a small welcome center (which was under construction) and a small dirt/stone path up to the main lodge where the driver will cart your bags up to for check in.

Check In:
The check in process is very smooth where they sit you down, give you a run drink and go over a small amount of paperwork which includes reservation confirmations, policies, and a waiver/release form. Once these documents are signed and reviewed a small tour of the facilities are given, meals are explained and you are then free to go to your room where your bags are waiting. Worth noting is that no credit card was needed at a check in and all incidentals were settled at the end.

Rooms:
There are several classes of rooms. The lower class is the jungle cabanas which are situated right in the jungle and have no electricity, but they do have running water. You can see pictures of these on their website. The second type of room is the tree houses that are river view. The river view tree houses are the units we stayed in and have large open living rooms (screened in) with large king bed and a large bath. There is also an outdoor shower. You can see images on their website or here on trip advisor. We really liked these units as you feel like you are truly in the jungle. You hear everything (and see) from monkeys to birds to lizards. The next room class up is the canopy tree houses which are a bit larger than the river view and a bit higher. These have a lot of steps up to them where the river view units are relatively easy to get to.

Some comments on all the rooms. You are in the Jungle. You will be woken up sometimes by monkeys, birds and creatures. If it is raining your room will be humid. I believe the resort is exactly this way for a reason as it makes the guests very connected with the surroundings and makes it feel like a real adventure off the beaten path. That said we were woken up by howler monkeys in the dead of night twice and we were not exactly thrilled by this. Also in the morning when the temperatures changes everything will get a little damp feeling and all the mirrors in the room will fog over. Only 2 other small complaints. 1.) Some of the older tree house units have no electrical outlets for charging gadgets. We knew about this beforehand from trip advisor and bought sockets you could screw into a lamp socket so we could charge our cameras and phones ($2/ea). 2.) Our tree house was one of the oldest and had some minor maintenance issues that should be repaired. These were really stupid and simple things like paint scuffs and a mirror that was mounted (rigged) to the wall with the wrong hardware. My last room comment would be that the lack of modern amenities like TV and AC is planned and on purpose, but if you want these things you should look at their sister property down the road at Sleeping Giant.

Breakfast:
Being a jungle adventure lodge most guests wake up early and got to breakfast at the main lodge. All meals are served buffet, family style at long tables. Breakfast itself was served until 8:30 am and consisted of eggs, tortillas, pancakes, bacon, fruit, cereals and other buffet style items that changed daily. All of the food here was really very good for buffet style food. Most guests depart between 8:30-9:15 am to go on their tours and the resort for the most part is very quiet from 10am-2pm.

Lunch:
If you are staying at the resort to relax for the day (which we did) the bar opens at 11am and if you let them know the day before they will prepare you a lunch for around noon. If you forgot or did this last minute the bar has pay-for snacks and meals like chicken wings/etc. If you are on a tour no worries, the guides pack lunches or will arrange to stop somewhere for an included lunch in the tour price.

Dinner:
Dinner starts around 5:30/6:00 when guests come down to the bar for drinks and chips with homemade beans or salsa. During this time people are generally trying to pair up and pick tables to sit at family style with other guests they have met on their respective tours. No need to worry there is always seats and all guests we met were friendly. At 6:30 dinner will start and tables will be called in order to avoid a rush. The buffet style dinners were really great with 3-4 different entree choices, salads, soups, breads, and fruit. Each night the menu was totally different and VERY good, on some nights they also had a carving station with various meats. Throughout dinner the wait staff will get you bar drinks and nonalcoholic beverages. At the end of the meal premium after dinner cordials are offered.

Bar:
The bar staff here are AWESOME. I have to give a shout out to Jason and Dylan who made our bar time great and fun. It is worth noting that most stay packages here come with included food and a bar package. Local beer, rum and vodka are included and if I had to guess they lost out on us with that package as we drank our fair share. Bar is open 11am-9:30pm/10pm.

Adventures:
Many of the room packages here also include adventure tours which can also be bought a la carte. These tours range from “easy” to “hard” based on ability and physical needs. The guides are super knowledgeable, helpful, kind and great people to work with. We have a special shout out to Abel who helped my older parents through some tough spots in the cave tubing trip really making their time great. We chose to do both the Cave tubing (relatively easy but super fun) and the Tikal day trip. Both were extremely well run and lots of fun. Tikal is an amazing place to go in Guatemala but is a LONG day (530am-5:00pm) with over 6 hours of driving. From other guests we head the black hole drop was great (but challenging hike) and the ATM cave tour was not to be missed. Whichever tours you pick you will not be disappointed.
Wrap Up:
I think this lodge is great, especially for families with teenage+ kids or older children looking for an adventure. It would also be wonderful for the adventure minded couple. You are literally thrown into the Jungle with comfort and put into a family style eating atmosphere where travelers swap war stories from their day’s adventure. The staff is also excellent and genuine. The rooms we stayed in could have used a little bit of TLC but nothing major. For us personally I could have gone either way and in retrospect I may have gone for the cushy life a mile over at their sister property sleeping giant lodge. I however have no regrets and will never forget the monkeys dropping large pieces of fruit on our roof at 2am and howling for another hour after that.

Room Tip: If you can afford it shoot for the tree house units.
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Patrick D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Anchorage, Alaska
Level Contributor
47 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 108 helpful votes
Reviewed January 9, 2013

We stayed at Caves Branch for a week the first week of December 2012. We had a treehouse, which was amazing! The view was beautiful. The half facing toward the trees and river was screen only, no walls. As soon as we turned off the lights, you could hear critters in the trees, which was very cool, but also a little creepy at times. You could hear crickets, frogs, birds, howler monkeys, and ??? The room and bathroom were beautiful. We loved it and were sorry to leave.

The adventures were so fun. They were difficult but not impossible. my husband is 60 and I am in my 40's and we are not in the best shape. We were sore and exausted, but neither of us would have missed a minute of it. The Lost World trip was the most difficult, but so amazing. And neither of us have ever rapelled but the Black Hole Drop was a close 2nd for us. Terrifying but wonderful.

The guides were top notch. Carlos was great. I got leg cramps and he massaged my legs until I could keep going. My husband dropped his camera in the river on the cave tubing and Esperanza dove down and got it for him. (I personally would have made him get it himself). They were all professional, knowledgeable, friendly, and made us feel safe at all times.

The food was really good. Everything was declicious, even though we got there the same day as the new chef was starting. The homemade tortillas were wonderful.

Ian and his wife were very nice and talked to all the guests at dinner and whenever he passed by. He has a great operaton and you can tell that he prides himself in running a good business with a great staff. Eugene at the front desk was also very nice and the bartenders were alwasy fun.

Our only complaint was that the lunch on the adventures was the same everyday. Eating the same lunch everyday for a week was tiresome. I can't imagine how the guides feel having it everyday week after week after week.

We would go back again for sure. We had an amazing time. And there are a couple of adventures we didn't get to go on yet.

Room Tip: The treehouses were great! But be prepared that there are no outlets in the rooms. No hairdryer or...
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank MelissaAk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle, Wasington
Level Contributor
6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed January 6, 2013 via mobile

I have never stayed at a place like this before where you all eat breakfast together at 8am and dinner together in the evening and there is no town in sight, so no freedom to go do your own thing. That said, rooms were great, grounds were beautiful, staff super friendly and most of all the tours were amazing.

We did two tours, both cave-based. One involved tubing and walking and Mayan artifacts and the other involved walking, crawling, climbing, swimming and jumping off of underground waterfalls into pools of water below. I'd do both again, but the waterfall one is a must do. These cave systems are huge and beautiful. The guides were perfect - helpful, friendly, informative, but not over the top or in your face. The ones we met all grew up in local towns and had been working as guides here for many years.

We stayed 3nights and did two tours - it was a nice intro to Belize before heading out to a caye for the rest of our time. I think that this was the perfect amount of time for travelers who are used to being more independent. If you don't mind being in a more structured place like this and like having the resort plan everything for you, then you'll probably be happy staying longer as they had a huge variety of tour options.

We stayed in a jungle cabana which was great- if you can afford a treehouse do it. They looked amazing. Only complaint was that the hot tub never worked and it would have been nice on one of the cooler days after a wet caving trip.

Last thing- just do the package. If you are there, you are there for the tours and the packages give you the best deal. You are not going to be skipping any meals after being out all day and you'll definitely want that beer when you get back.

Stayed December 2012, traveled with friends
Helpful?
Thank lanik23
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Statesboro, Georgia
Level Contributor
458 reviews
61 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 171 helpful votes
Reviewed January 5, 2013

We had our family reunion here, staying in the treehouses, which were gorgeous. All the wood was mahogany and furniture was made by locals. The owner is a great supporter of the local population, hiring natives (who are wonderful at what they do) in all jobs. The food was delicious, the pools and hot tub delightful, and the many options for touring nearby and far away (Guatemala's Inca ruins) were handled professionally and with ease. Every place we turned we were offered free beverages (including fruit and rum punch). We enjoyed the river, the blue hole, bird watching, horse-back riding, cave-tubing and historical information about the Maya.
I can't recommend this place highly enough - for ANYONE!

Room Tip: We enjoyed the treehouses. The upstairs have a lovely deck hot tub, smaller bedroom, and a beautiful...
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
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    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Ruhu61
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle, WA
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed January 4, 2013

We chose Cave's Branch with intention for the adventures it would offer our family with two children ages 14 and 12. It is kind of like camp for families in a beautiful jungle. The grounds and lodging are stunning, especially the tree houses! The staff, during our Christmas 2012 stay, were fabulous; warm, welcoming, accommodating and extremely helpful. So we were stunned to discover that in this pristine, eco-firendly jungle full of outgoing and adventurous guests to find that they allow smoking. Guests during our stay were smoking all around the dining area (it is open air), swimming pool, grounds, etc. It was awful and we were really disappointed to find they allow smoking - ruining the experience around all the common and shared public areas. We hope Ian Anderson reevaluates this smoking policy and consider's changing it. He had just left upon our arrival or we would have asked him about this directly. Otherwise the greatest resource was the well trained staff and we inquired during our day long adventures about how they liked working for Cave's Branch and each said that they were happy and very well taken care of by Ian Anderson.

Room Tip: Tree houses are expensive but fabulous for a traveling family.
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank FosterPL
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Red Deer, Canada
Level Contributor
7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed January 2, 2013

Sorry for the late review. We stayed for four nights in October and had a great time. Due to the rain in October (not caves branch fault) we werent able to do all of the excursions that we wanted to but really enjoyed the zoo, ziplining, cave tours and we almost made it up to the waterfalls until the river got too high and we got turned around. Safety is always number one with the tours and guides and this was one instance where it was shown. This was really appreciated since we had our outgoing eight year old boy Jesse with us. We stayed in the tree top canapy which was absolutely awesome! The pool is exceptional as well as the food, drinks and service of all of the staff. We were able to meet Ian and listen to his intriguing stories. I was able to make a pretty good howler monkey imitation and he was pretty impressed with that. Highly recommended and we may be able to make it back in April with our whole family!!

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank starchub
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

Property: 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 12 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: 23
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Nestled in the lush rainforest of central Belize, Caves Branch Jungle Lodge offers visitors the opportunity to immerse in a culture of mid-range to extreme adventures. From the guest rooms that are open to the sights and sounds of the jungle, some of which are thatched in the ancient style of the Maya to our luxurious Treehouse suites, your experience should be something that must be experienced to be believed and once experienced, truly-never forgotten! ... 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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