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“Best Lodge in the Jungle Ever!”

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Ian Anderson's Caves Branch Jungle Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed May 12, 2009

My friend Sonja and I stayed at Caves Branch for 7 nights and we absolutely loved it!! Everything was great, no complaints. Our Cabana and Bungalow was really nice. It's rustic, but that is exactly what I wanted. I liked using the oil lamps and getting to shower outside. The food was great... I felt like I got an authentic, local taste of Belizean cuisine every night! The excursions were awesome too. The guides are very accomodating and knowledgeable about the plant life, animals, and customs in Belize. I would say my favorite adventure was the Waterfall Caving...I have never done anything like this before. And I felt really safe with our guides. They are trained well! Everyone seems pretty friendly in Belize, especially the staff at Caves Branch! I would, for sure, come back again:) Thanks for a great vacation!!!

  • Stayed: May 2009, traveled with friends
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Thank garciagrl97
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed May 5, 2009

My husband and I stayed at Caves Branch Lodge over Easter as part of a longer Belize itinerary. I must say that if you are visiting Belize you really must include an inland adventure or you are missing out. There are many different accommodation options here with something for every budget.

But as I advise my clients, you really need to understand what you are booking. It is the jungle, there are snakes , spiders, and howler monkeys and you are in their habitat. That means you must have a flashlight at night, not because the lights are out - because most room types have electricity. There are also tiki torches that burn out around 200am. But you must light your path at night when you are walking. You must have a good bug spray, and bring your sense of adventure.

The scenery here is stunning, with the Mayan Mountains as a backdrop. It is very hot in the daytime, so good thing Ian put a pool in - which is fabulous, although the staff are very busy keeping the leaves out. If you are off on adventures in the daytime, many of them will cool you off. We did not though have any trouble with it being too hot at night time to sleep. Rooms are equipped with ceiling fans and since you are surrounded by screen you catch a breeze. Air conditioning in the jungle would seem silly.

The rooms are great and the beds quite comfy, and bathrooms really luxurious. Loved the outdoor shower. I loved laying in bed and looking at the jungle. Jungle sounds at night - if you are lucky you will be awakened by howler monkeys in the middle of the night - the sound is surprising actually - a little scary when you don't know what it is.

I was sick while I stayed here, a food allergy issue from before we got here. I was having breathing difficulty and was not myself at all. I still managed to do the River Cave tubing, although I started to have difficulty breating while we were climbing - Esperanza was a wonderful help - and the tour was awesome. We also did the zipline. This was disappointing because in my condition I was not able to really take advantage of the tours. The reason I mention this is because I want to say how great the staff are from Ian Anderson (thank you) to all of the guides. If Ian happens to be there when you stay - you will enjoy his pp talk. lol.

Special thanks to Larry at Adventures in Belize for his wonderful planning.

  • Stayed: April 2009, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank tripdesigner1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 4, 2009

My best friend, Jenn, and I booked the 7 night package with 5 excursions included!

We found all the guides and staff to be so well trained, very knowledgable, quite friendly and most are pretty funny! Also, all the guides were very generious with their time and if there was something a little extra we wanted to see or do on our excursions...if it was at all possible then they were glad to do whatever they could! They definitely played a huge part in completing our trip and I loved getting to know each and everyone of them!

I absolutely loved the resort and being in the jungle. Jenn and I had to adjust to the sound of the howler monkeys...It was pretty exciting because the first night when Jenn and I didn't know what was making the crazy noises, our imaginations were going absolutely wild! It was pretty hilarious! After we found out it was just the howlers we had no problems at all! The resort was beautiful. We stayed in the Bungalow the first few nights then the Cabana the rest of our stay and we loved both! Make sure you don't forget your flash light because it is dark at night! However, people were always willing to walk you to your room just incase you are unprepared.

As far as meals go, i loved the way things were set up! The food was great! You sit in groups so it is very easy to meet people while you are there! There were familys and people of all different ages! This is definitely a place for all to enjoy as long as you have an adventurous spirit!

Jenn and I are both very adventurious and loved being able to do as many excursions as we did! We went diving, caving, hiked the jungle to the blue hole, horse back riding, then to the ruins! I would definitely say I enjoyed caving the most mainly because I have never been before and we got to climbed up waterfalls and jump off and all the rock formations were just breathtaking!... It really was hard choosing a favorite because everything was really pretty great!

There were alot of people only staying a few nights..who all had a great time! I never heard a complaint once! Everyone was all saying pretty much the same great things as Jenn and I! Working at a hotel myself, I know personally that having that many people pleased is not at all an easy task! I am so glad we stayed at Caves Branch and especially for as many nights as we did because we got to experiance so much and the staff made us feel very welcome and almost like family! Infact upon departure I got most everyones emails and they said how much that they were going to miss us because they had felt like after a week we were apart of them! That kind of service is definitely rare and hard to come by!

I still have the world to see because like I said this was my first trip out of the country, but when I return to Belize I will for sure be staying at Caves Branch!

  • Stayed: May 2009, traveled with friends
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1  Thank grneyes1983
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 30, 2009

My wife and I took our first trip away from our kids (all 5 of them) to Belize in March. We had been planning to go for our tenth anniversary in August 2007, but then my wife got pregnant and the trip to Belize was no longer feasible. My wife surprised me for my 40th birthday with a trip to Belize. What a great surprise!!!

We arrived in Belize after a direct flight from Newark. We were expecting someone there from Caves Branch to pick us up, but the car had broken down. Caves Branch arranged alternate transport, and we had our driver stop at the Belize Zoo. We spent two hours at the zoo and highly recommend it. Also, while walking around the zoo, the soles of my 10 year old hiking boots dissolved and I had no boots. Check in at the hotel was easy, and we had cold Belikins while we signed the paperwork. I had no issue signing the releases and waivers, since we knew what we were getting into.

We stayed in the Treehouse Suites, and they were beautiful and romantic. We loved the outdoor shower and the gorgeous view of the jungle. At night, we went to sleep to the sound of howler monkeys and some rain (it only rained at night while we were there). Some nights, it got quite cool, so we used the extra blankets.

Our first adventure was the Black Hole Drop. I'm not much of a hiker, and my wife less so, but we loved it. The jungle was beautiful and the drop, while terrifying at first, was incredible. There were 10 of us on the hike, so we were able to go 2 at a time. We loved the lunch at the bottom of the Black Hole (we kept saying it was a real hole in the wall). Our guides were expert and we never felt in any danger.

On second trip was to Tikal in Guatemala. Again, expert guides and drivers (which are necessary on the absolutely horrific Guatemalan roads). It was a long day, but wow - amazing.

Our third trip was snorkeling on the Belizean Barrier Reef. Again, great guides. We also enjoyed our down time in Hopkins at the Hammanasi Resort. The water was beautiful, and we enjoyed a nap resting on hammocks on a dock.

Our final trip was our favorite - the Waterfalls trip. We hiked through a cave and climbed up 6 different cave waterfalls. My wife felt completely invigorated by the hike as it challenged her physically the way few things have. Our guides were phenomenal and supportive. We had lunch inside the cave on a flat piece of rock. This trip has to be experienced.

After our adventures, we would return the lodge for a shower and then dinner. We spent our time chatting with the fellow guests (mostly Americans and Canadians when we were there, but some others as well). The food was great and we loved the staff.

I would absolutely recommend Caves Branch to a friend. We're trying to figure out a way to go back with the kids this time - but sadly we'll have to wait a few years until our youngest are old enough. For the price (or any price), there is no better place in Belize.

  • Stayed: March 2009, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank BrucknerPacific
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 16, 2009

First, my qualification: I have been rock climbing and backpacking for over 20 years, and have taught over 100 friends to climb and rappel, without injury or incident, because I practice Outdoor Safety like Kaizen -“continuous quality improvement”.

So – when I say that I was favorably impressed with how IACB guides set up a 280 foot rappel and gave instruction to a mixed group of adults, and families with small children (approx. age 7 to 12), I know that of which I speak. I was surprised to see so many families with younger children, but I saw a lot of smiles, and heard a lot of laughter.

my buddy and I thought the food was pretty good. not gourmet, but still... I'm a little perplexed at some complaints in other reviews - were they expecting the Ritz?

Value – it probably is pricey compared to the rest of Belize economy, but to me it was worth it.

Rooms – have been described as “jungle chic”: upon arrival we found our towels folded in the shape of an elephant with a hibiscus flower in its trunk. The next day the towels were like monkeys climbing the bunk bed. I guess that Is chic.

Location – the 2 trips we did (cave tubing and black hole drop) were a 15 minute bus ride away, so very convenient.

Cleanliness – great.

Check in / front desk – easy to talk to. Responsive staff.

Service – beyond no complaints, bar and wait staff asked if they could help, and the guides really looked out for us, knew how to take good photos of us, etc.

Business service – I was able to use the computer and internet in the gift shop, which was more than I was expecting in the jungle…

as for culture / sightseeing - the adventurous locales we went to had Mayan pottery everywhere - i found some by accident. almost like slipping on a banana peel! The guides act informally as rangers, protecting their nation's cultural heritage.

In response to some criticisms:

How thoroughly did you read their website, before traveling a few thousand miles, spending how much money, to do risky adventurous stuff?!

notice these 2 quotes right from the IACB website: “We're certainly not for everyone ... thank god!! ... Ian Anderson, April, 1994. And we're still not for everyone ... Ian Anderson, December, 2003.”

it was precisely this adventurous flavor, coupled with a guide service that sounded professional that attracted me. their website rates the strenuousness of their tours from "Easy" to "Moderate" to "Difficult" to "Bad [--]".

“Not much to do if you’re not on a day trip?” Um… no kidding? The day trips are Precisely what you come here for: caves, rappelling, jungle hikes, waterfalls, Mayan ruins. If you want shopping, pampering spas and nightlife, go to a big city. (they do advertise a masseuse at IACBL though).

FWIW - We had electrical outlets in our room, charged our camera batteries just fine.

I fully expect legal wavers when rappelling, caving, and “bad [--]” expeditions, including jungle survival courses are offered!

Is it expensive, especially compared to backpacking? Yes. I am not familiar enough with other lodges and tours to compare, but it did seem pricey, but worth it to me.

Were there Bugs but not much visible photo-genic wildlife? And did the howler monkeys wake me up? Yes, yes, and yes. Bring DEET. Remember that you Are much bigger than the bugs. Evolutionary adaptation encourages wildlife to keep a low profile from large carnivores, such as yourself. I did hear from concurrent guests that the “jungle safari after dark” was disappointing. I brought ear plugs for snoring neighbors and roommate, used them for the howler monkeys. Seriously – consider ear plugs from a sporting goods store.

  • Stayed: April 2009, traveled with friends
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4  Thank squintyken
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 14, 2009

We spent 3 nights at Caves Branch in a Treehouse suite with our 2 teens. The lodge, room, staff were all fantastic; truly couldn't have been any better!! For our adventures, we chose the waterfall caving excursion and a trip to Tikal. The waterfall caving was exciting and challenging-- not recommended for children, and you must be pretty fit to be able to crawl and climb through the caves. Tikal was fascinating and the drive through Guatemala was beautiful. The owner/host may give a talk at dinner about the dangers of snakes, the presence of scorpions among other risks that truly frightened many of the young kids present. He wants all to realize that this isn't a disney-like resort and wants everyone to have a healthy respect for the life all around. By the way, the pool is now open. We all would go back in a hearbeat!!

  • Stayed: April 2009, traveled with family
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Thank traveling321
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 28, 2009

My wife and I took our two granddaughters, ages 10 and 13 to Belize during spring break the fourth week in March 2009. Knowing virtually nothing about Belize except for the glowing reviews of many who have been there during the past few years, we committed to 7 days in advance. We wanted some independence so we rented a car in Belize City and drove the easy 1.25 hours to Caves Branch Adventures. The accommodations were excellent for the jungle, but there was some false advertising. First all rooms are advertised as having hot water. That is not true. The water is tepid at best, and "warm" as described by Arnold, the concierge that introduces each guest to the facility and then indicates that you must sign away all of your legal rights to stay at the hotel. I could not find any mention of this on their internet site. All payments are required up front and there is very little chance, from our experience, that you could receive a credit if you decide not to sign the document giving precluding Caves Branch from all legal responsibility, or if you wanted to leave early.

The second negative was the absence of a single electrical outlet for charging cameras, IPods, or whatever, The lighting was two 20 watt bulbs, one on each side of the bed. We are not complaining about this, we knew that we were staying in the jungle. Clearly, the accommodations are for the adventurous, primarily short stay. We had no complaint about the facilities whatever. However, some truth in advertising would have been helpful during our decision making process (such as: no refunds, no electricity, no accommodation for extra meals). The location being in central Belize was convenient for trips to the west, e.g., San Ignacio and Xunantunitch, and even the shore at Hopkins and the Jaguar Reef Hotel (for great snorkeling), which is apparently run by the same business concern.

One strange aspect of the trip was that our reservations were made unintentionally through an organization called Adventures in Belize (AIB). I thought initially that I was sending an email for the reservation to Caves Branch, but instead it went to this organization (AIB) and I couldn't figure how to circumvent that. Unfortunately, that mistake resulted in our not being able to leave a day early to go to the beach because AIB would not give us a credit for the last night (of 5) that we had reserved. That might have been different if I had made the reservation directly through Caves Branch.
That failure to be able to leave a day early resulted in the worst day of our trip and a few nightmares that will last for a while.

The fourth day of our stay we returned to the Blue Hole National Park (5 minutes from Caves Branch) where our granddaughters enjoyed swimming a few days earlier. As they prepared to take a dip I wandered back up the hill to look for a trail. I picked the Humming Bird Loop, a mile long trail that meanders through dense jungle, mainly up, around a hill the entrance to which is situated not 500 yards from the road. I was well into the trail listening for birds and watching for anything that moved when I heard voices coming up the trail behind me. Two young locals, either Hispanic or Creole, well dressed and fluent in accented English started a friendly conversation about the locale, birding, and whether I was enjoying my trip. They were very friendly, well dressed, and in no way threatening. However, as the conversation turned to my new digital camera they wanted to take a picture of the "National Tree" for me and then began asking more detailed questions about its operation. Feeling somewhat uncomfortable I started walking ahead to put some separation between us when one of the boys grabbed me from behind placing a knife next to my throat and gruffly demanded my money. They took my camera, binoculars, and (fortunately) only $26. They were smart enough not to take my credit cards or other personal property. They simply turned away indicating that I was to return down the hill the way I had come.

The Park employees were of no help whatever. Caves Branch was more than helpful in calling the police so we could file a report (on a scrap piece of paper). They offered more security if we felt uncomfortable, and essentially made us feel more relaxed. Ian Anderson offered to obtain the report for me (but I have heard nothing yet). The police were not inspiring. Everyone in the Park, at Caves Branch, and the police insisted that the event was the first of its type in the Park. Hard to believe, but we have no reason to doubt their honesty.

In general, we enjoyed our trip to Belize tremendously, but the inflexibility due to advance commitments of cash and obtaining meals and food was stressful, especially in this area where restaurants are few. Meals were twice per day, good quality, but strictly limited to 8 a.m. breakfast and 7 p.m. dinner, with no chance for eating anything in between. They will fix a box lunch, for an expensive charge. The Belize trip was expensive and stressful especially when compared to our experience in Costa Rica, which by the way is much more lush and beautiful compared to the scrubby jungles found in Belize. Our hotel in Costa Rica, The Bougainvillea, just outside San Jose, was inexpensive and exceptional in quality and flexibility. For a trip to a country no visited previously flexibility is essential, unless you are willing to put yourself completely in the hands of tour guides. Costa Rica's tourism is much more oriented to ecological education and conservation while Belize is strictly oriented towards adventures, from mild to extreme. We found Fodor’s’ Belize 2008 helpful, but less than transparent about the negatives of travelling in Belize.

I sincerely hope that this commentary will help first time visitors to Belize to make a fully informed decision about a trip tailored to your needs.

  • Stayed: March 2009, traveled with family
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10  Thank oximeice
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 13 Specialty Lodging in Belmopan
Price Range: $152 - $329 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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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