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“a jungle paradise” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of The Lodge at Chaa Creek

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The Lodge at Chaa Creek
Ranked #1 of 31 San Ignacio B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Denver, Colorado
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“a jungle paradise”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 18, 2010

We recently spent four nights at Chaa Creek, and we were not disappointed. We wanted to explore the jungle, check out the wildlife, but be pampered at the same time. If this is what you're looking for, Chaa Creek will not disappoint.

The resort itself has many things to offer, from birdwatching trips at the crack of dawn (which were fascinating, even if you're not a bird-lover) to horsebackriding tours through the property, and up to a mountaintop upon which stands an old mayan ruin. Our guides were amazing -- they knew their stuff cold. Our riding guide was a graduate student in archeology and gave us a fascinating overview of the mayan settlements on the property (he was very funny, too).

The food was top notch -- and we are vegetarian foodies who can be kind of particular. We met other guests there who owned an upscale fusion restaurant in the States, and they were also very impressed with the food.

The cottages and the pool, the bar and the restaurant were gorgeous -- the website photos do not do it justice. The grounds are pristine, but don't forget the deep woods OFF.

We took a day trip to Tikal in Guatemala, and we were so glad we did. It was a two-hour drive, true, but absolutely worth it. Be warned about the "ATM" trip (in a cave system, more mayan history) -- we heard that it was not for the faint of heart.

We would recommend Chaa Creek to our friends and we hope to return in the near future.

  • Liked — the beautiful grounds and buildings
  • Disliked — the jungle is full of bugs -- no way around this at any jungle resort
  • Stayed January 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank thewasches
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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1,128 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (265)
Date | Rating
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English first
Fort Bragg, ca
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 16, 2010

My husband and I stayed at Chaa Creek in late July of 2009. We planned our trip so that we were able to stay 3 nights in the jungle and 7 nights on Ambergris Caye. After our stay we wish that we would have spent our whole trip in the jungle at Chaa Creek. Our trip began arriving at the airport and being picked up by a driver from Chaa Creek. At first we thought that the airport transfers to and from the resort were a bit pricey, but the hour drive was well worth the cost, as our driver was also somewhat of a tour guide, pointing out landmarks and giving us history of his country.

We stayed in a Camp Casita which is located in a campground near the river, about a 10 min hike from the main resort. When we first arrived we were picked up from the main lobby and were driven to the campground by the camp host. The casitas are small wooden cabins with canvas roofs. If you are "bug-phobic" the camp casitas may not be the place for you to stay, with the spiders, grass hoppers and tarantulas, but we love nature so it did not bother us much. There is no power in the casitas, the camp host lights oil lanterns in the cabins before the sun goes down. The bathrooms do have power to them, as well as the out-side eating area.

When staying in the camp casitas all breakfasts and dinners are included in the stay, and they are delicious!! This was probably where we had the best food throughout our stay in Belize. The small kitchen is ran by a nice family that lives in the nearby village. The dining area is open to the outdoors and we were able to eat at times that worked with our schedule.

There are many excursions that can be booked through Chaa Creek. We were only there for a few days, but the main trip that we were wanting to do when we were in the jungle was to go to Tikal in Guatemala. Booking the excursion could not have been easier. We had an amazing time. It is a long day trip to Tikal, we left the resort at 7am and arrived back at 7pm. The long day was well worth the time. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and answered any questions that we had about the history of the ruins. We highly recommend this tour, we were able to do zip-lining in Guatemala as well, prior to arriving at Tikal. We wish that we would have had more time to do more adventures such as the ATM cave.

We spent our last day at Chaa Creek lounging by the beautiful pool and drinking tropical drinks. Even though we did not stay at the main lodge, we had access to all the amenities that were available there. We did a little hiking on one of the many trails, went to the butterfly farm and located some Howler monkeys only a few minutes from the pool area.

We would highly recommend this resort, we loved the campground, and plan to return to Chaa Creek to stay at the main resort.

  • Stayed July 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank richters25
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New Orleans
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 15, 2010

I agree with the other reviewer that there are not enough reviews of this place, but otherwise my experience and impressions were quite different. First, I will say something nice. It IS in the middle of the jungle with wonderful wildlife nearby, and I agree that Dosio, who manages the place, is very nice. The food, prepared by his wife and sister-in-law, is also really good.
But otherwise we were really disappointed. Chaa Creek, with its amenities, is a 12-minute walk away, so not really around the corner, nor does any of that luxury "trickle down", so to speak. In fact, we kind of felt like the poor people crawling out of the woodwork when we made the trek over to Chaa Creek, where the rich people stay.

The accommodations at the River Camp are tent-huts on stilts, and bathrooms are a fair walk from most of the cabins. If you want to rough it, this is the place for you. Especially if you want to rough it and pay dearly for the privilege, since Macal River Camp charges exorbitant prices for what you get. We paid $110 a night American ($55 per person), whereas comparable places that were essentially camping accommodations charged a FRACTION of that. So it is seriously overpriced... I think because of its association with Chaa Creek. But that minimal connection is NOT enough to warrant such high prices.

I would recommend the following alternatives:

1) If you want to rough it and are trying to travel on a budget, spend much less and stay elsewhere for the same or better camping quality.
2) If you want a rustic middle-of-the-jungle experience but still your own bathroom and some creature comforts, try Moonracer Farms. We had previously stayed there for 2 nights and I can't recommend it highly enough (see my review). No electricity, but all of your needs are lovingly tended to by the owners. And... IT COSTS LESS!

3) If you want better accommodations and are trying to travel on a budget, you can still spend less than Macal River Camp and get much more for your money. After one of three planned nights at Macal we just couldn't take it. It did not help that it had been raining for days and everything--the sheets, blankets, toilet seats--felt moist. After our first night we drove around desperately looking for ANYTHING else, even though we had prepaid our three nights at Macal (we ended up "eating" two nights, but we had to get out). We ended up in Cahal Pech Resort Village, which to our pleasant surprise was lovely, cost less, we had our own cabana with electricity, hot showers, our own bathroom, a lovely pool... ALL FOR 25% LESS!!

4) If you don't have a budget and don't want to rough it, stay at Chaa Creek itself.

In conclusion, I think Macal River Camp is capitalizing on their connection to Chaa Creek (or perhaps Chaa Creek is capitalizing on their own name) by charging such high prices for something so basic. We felt like it was a major rip-off.

I also encountered a spider the size of my fist in one of the showers and don't like stumbling through the dark for 200 feet to pee in the middle of the night. They didn't tell us to bring our own flashlights.

So, consider yourselves forewarned.

  • Stayed January 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
19 Thank jem83roma
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Orange, California
Level Contributor
274 reviews
33 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 155 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 12, 2010

I cannot say enough wonderful things about Chaa Creek. I would tell everyone I know to stay there, and would LOVE to go back! We stayed for 5 nights with our three kids, ages 13, 12 and 6. The grounds were beautiful, the location ideal, it was well-run and everyone was friendly.

Because we booked our trip last minute, there were no rooms available in the main lodge area our first night. They asked if we'd like to stay at the Macal Camp area and we agreed. What a great time! The Macal Camp consists of a number of small casitas, or cabins, set on platforms. There is no electricity, no bathroom in the casita. (the bathroom is a short walk away in a separate building) No windows, just screens all the way around. It was very clean and well-made, with a hammock out on the deck. There was a communal dining room which served fantastic food and everyone was friendly. Kerosene lanters lit the way to the outdoor restroom at night. It was great fun and I was disappointed to move the next day.

For the next 4 nights we stayed in a Treetop Suite at the main lodge area. This was very luxurious in comparison to the Macal Camp, but I still think both places were fantastic. The suite was an individual structure. It was very clean and extremely spacious, with a vaulted thatched ceiling. We had a deck that hung out over the riverbed. In the trees just outside the room were iguanas, toucans and howler monkeys. (FYI - howler monkeys are the loudest creature ever. they sound like the t-rex from Jurassic Park, and their favorite time of day is 4am. But it was all part of our fantastic adventure) There was a jacuzzi on the deck, where you could sit and watch the wildlife, or in the evening watch the stars and listen to the night creatures.

The food was EXCELLENT. Breakfast was included, and it was a build-your-own breakfast with many items to choose from, all yummy. The fruit was incredible, french toast awesome, and every day they would also offer a breakfast special. Lunch was good, with a casual menu because many people are at off-site excursions during the day. Dinner was to die for. They offered a full kids menu for the little ones. For the grown ups, ecah evening was a 4 course meal. The choices were different every day. There would be a soup (which was always fabulous), a salad, and a dessert, and 3 main courses to choose from - a fish, a meat, and a vegetarian. Every choice was so yummy it was impossible to decide. If you couldn't decide, they'd let you do a combo! In the 4 nights we were there we never saw the same item at dinner offered twice. We couldn't wait to see what the selections were going to be each night. Even the kids were ordering the adult food!

We took advantage of the many excursions and loved every one. There are lots of things to do on-site as well. We spent a day visiting the Natural History center and the butterfly conservatory, taking a guided nature hike, and relaxing by the infinity pool. We also took the night creature hike with the guide. Although not many creatures were out that night, it was still wonderful to take the walk and learn from the guide. There is also canoeing and horseback riding among the many other on-site activities.

Off site:
We visiting the Mayan ruins at Xunantuncih, which was nearby. Its was fascinating and the kids loved it.

Jaguar Paw cave tubing and zipline - so much fun! Long drive (1 1/2 hrs?), but during the drive you get to see a lot of how the locals live, and the guides will tell you a lot of interesting facts. We had Hugh, and he was very informative as well as nice.

ATM cave - the adventure of my life! Not for the delicate or faint of heart. Our guides from PACZ tours were danny and Oscar, and we could not have asked for better. LONG day.

Belize Zoo - an easy detour on your way to or from the airport. Again we had Hugh who is very knowledgable. It takes about 1 1/2 hrs to visit the zoo.

Things to be sure to bring:
-bug spray (although it was not very buggy when we were there. we didn't really get bit)
-itch cream
-small LED (very bright) flashlights - you'll need these! get waterproof ones from a camping store if you can
-lightweight rain jackets. it does rain frequently, but it is also warm and humid, so don't bring anything heavy. They have plenty of umbrellas there to borrow.
-waterproof closed toe hiking shoes, or water shoes made for hiking. We bought Keen shoes, made for hiking in and out of water, with mesh on the side to let the water drain out. It seemed that we hiked over rocks and stepped in water or mud somewhere on our adventures every day
- we also bought Columbia brand pants - the lightweight nylon kind that dry quickly. We got the ones that you can unzip the legs and they become shorts. I was initially opposed to these because they just aren't very attractive, but in the end I was really glad to have them. Jeans are just to heavy to wear in the warmth and humidity, but there are times when your legs need to be protected. Plus, jean stay damp the entire time (nothing ever dries in the rainforest!).
-waterproof camera, if you can. Its very humid, and it rains off and on frequently. Also, some of the excursions involve a lot of water (tubing, canoeing, ATM cave) and you won't be able to get pictures without a waterproof camera of some sort.

I could go on forever, so feel free to contact me if you have questions. We have travelled all over the world (20-something countries) and this is definitely at the top of the list of best places ever!

Stayed December 2009, traveled with family
Helpful?
5 Thank oyyveyy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Santa Fe, NM
Level Contributor
18 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 3, 2010

My husband and I spent 6 nights at Chaa Creek and look forward to returning with our grandchildren when they are older.  The staff was absolutely lovely and most accommodating.  The food was good, not gourmet, but excellent for a family (although if you don't like conch, don't order it because it's tough! always).  We rode horses, canoed, walked (no heavy duty hiking here), visited Mayan ruins with an excellent guide, and best of all went to ATM (a cave, not a machine) which we'll always remember.  The cottages are very nice but you should be prepared for lots of humidity.  We used to live in Houston, so it wasn't a problem and the evenings are cool.  The grounds are lovely and the pool is very relaxing.  It's not a chic resort.  It's a perfect place for a family vacation.    One night we went down to the Macal River Camp to have dinner because we heard the food was good.  It was.  A local couple run the camp for the Flemings and the food is definitely Belizian home cooking. 

  • Stayed December 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank LPTexasusa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
log gatos
1 review
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 29, 2009

From the moment we were met at the airport by Darren, everything about our stay at Chaa Creek was perfect. Our casita was wonderfully designed, with an emphasis on privacy and natural beauty. The dining room was open, yet cozy and every member of the staff was attentive. We went birdwatching at 6:30 am, visited their natural history center, delighted to the beauty of the blue morpho butterflies. Darren took us on on three day trips. We went to Barton Creek Dave, visited two Maya sites and went zip lining and cave tubing. Darren was the perfect guide, very knowledgeable about all things pertaining to Belize. He could talk about Maya history, ecology, and the current state of life in Belize. Chaa Creek is owned by a couple, the Flemings, and although we never met them, we saw them each day talking with staff or having a meal with friends. Every staff member we spoke to talked about what kind and generous employers they are. The hostess in the dining room has been there for 22 years! Go to Belize and experience the natural beauty and the kindness of the Belize people,

Stayed December 2009, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
Thank maddy5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
The Dalles, Oregon
Level Contributor
327 reviews
69 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 239 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 27, 2009

REVIEW FROM JULY 2003 STAY:

I'm posting this after the fact but there aren't many reviews and we think very highly of this place. Macal River Jungle Camp is a subsidiary of Chaa Creek, located a mile or so away on the Macal River. The setting is gorgeous and very "jungly" - we saw iguanas, tarantulas, motmots, toucans, aracaris, and parrots from our hammocks. The tent-cabins are sweet, spread out around a clearing in the jungle with the dining area in the middle. The bathrooms and showers (hot water!) are shared but clean and and the camp host, Dolcio, very accommodating and friendly; there's no electricity so before dinner he goes around and lights lanterns in the cabins and along the paths. Great hiking, comfortable beds and hammocks, good food (dinner and breakfast are included in the price and are served in an open-air palapa), and you have free access to the Chaa Creek amenities (pool, internet, natural history museum, butterfly house) and tours. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Stayed July 2006, traveled with family
Helpful?
2 Thank hopefulist
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Lodge at Chaa Creek

Property: The Lodge at Chaa Creek
Address: Macal River, San Ignacio, Belize
Phone Number:
Location: Belize > Cayo > San Ignacio
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 31 B&Bs / Inns in San Ignacio
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — The Lodge at Chaa Creek 3.5*
Number of rooms: 23
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
For over 30 years Chaa Creek has been providing a comfortable base for exciting inland adventures for thousands of visitors, from explorers, scientists, filmmakers, research groups, students and people of all ages looking for intellectual and physical stimulation in Belize's vibrant rainforest - the heartland of the Maya. We also realise that any rewarding adventure is enhanced by comfortable accommodations and excellent food. Our 23 palm thatched cottage rooms ensure a good night's sleep and delightful mornings accompanied by the sing song of a rainforest waking up, and guests can choose a Complete Garden Suite, an Orchard and Spa Villa, Macal Cottage or Tree Top Suite, all equipped with a Jacuzzi for even extra comfort. As one example, under our Chaa Creek Cares program, 10% of all accommodation revenue goes straight into environmental and social programs, and in supporting Green and community groups. We sleep better, and you will too, knowing that your stay at Chaa Creek has a positive effect on Belize and our very special pristine natural environment. Families share some of life's most cherished moments - and memories - during a Belize family vacation. And to guarantee a family vacation that everyone will enjoy, multi award winning Chaa Creek is the only Belize destination you'll need. Our affordable, all inclusive family friendly adventure holidays are absolutely stress free and bring everyone closer together through sharing a variety of amazing adventures along with quiet moments to reconnect - all in a stunning rainforest setting. Nature and romance bloom year round in the stunning beauty of Belize. Our all-inclusive romantic vacation packages allow lovers of all ages to immerse themselves in nature and each other. An exquisite rainforest filled with colourful tropical birds, canoe trips down the meandering Macal river with the misty Maya mountains in the background, unwinding together in your private Jacuzzi surrounded by a tropical garden, couples massages, candlelit dinners and sharing once-in-a-lifetime experiences create the perfect conditions for love to flower. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
The Lodge At Chaa Creek Hotel San Ignacio
Hotel At Chaa Creek
At Chaa Creek Hotel
Chaa Creek
The Lodge At Chaa Creek Belize/San Ignacio

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