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“A lovely place geared more towards birders than photographers.”
Review of Chan Chich Lodge

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Chan Chich Lodge
Ranked #1 of 8 Orange Walk B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed May 21, 2012

My wife and I spent 12 nights here in May. Our stay seemed to be a lot longer than all other guests we met who were usually fitting in 2 to 4 nights as part of a wider Belizean itinerary.

We are both keen wildlife photographers and have travelled to many countries in pursuit of our hobby. Whilst the remote chance of seeing a large mammal/cat was part of the appeal of this destination, our main draw was the reptiles, amphibians and birds of the rainforest.

We planned our stay to coincide with the change of season from dry to wet. However, the rains
did not arrive until our last day. Instead, we experienced very hot and very humid weather for the duration, which made walking the tracks carrying our camera equipment more tiresome. However, we both enjoyed the walks immensely, both with and without guide.

We also took drives out to most of the locations on offer. Laguna Seca, the Escarpment and Cocoa plantation were all very enjoyable.

Our main observation from our experience here is that Chan Chich is more geared toward the serious birder than general wildlife photographers. The large SUV vehicle used for the trips does not have windows that open in the rear. So unless you travel in the front passenger seat, you may miss a shot of a bird or mammal that only appears briefly. Also, the guides who take the walks are excellent at spotting and recognising the calls of birds. But we might take 2-3 hours on a walk with much time observing birds high up in the canopy or obscured by foliage, with little chance of getting a decent shot. We found that on our walks without guides, we would observe much fewer but could concentrate on the wildlife we did see that was in range of our cameras.

The night drive was a little disappointing, seeing only a brief glimpse of a racoon, a small crocodile and little else. The vehicle is noisy and might have contributed to the lack of sightings, which seems to be a theme on previous reports.

We don't intent to dissuade other photographers from visiting Chan Chich. Despite the above, we still managed to get some excellent sightings of the Roadside Hawk, White Hawk, Bare Throated Tiger Heron, Spider Monkeys, Basilisk Lizards, Frogs and many insects.

The hurricane which hit Belize a couple of years ago may also have had an impact on the density of fauna in the area. Sone of the canopy on the walks has been removed and it may be
a while before some wildlife returns. We were told by a guide that they haven't seen tree frogs for the last two years.

This is a top class resort, the staff are very friendly and attentive and the managers very keen to talk to you to make sure you are getting the most out of your stay. Take as much mosquito deterrent as you can and you will undoubtedly have a great time.

  • Stayed: May 2012, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank YoYo182
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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136 - 142 of 224 reviews

Reviewed May 8, 2012

It's hard to fault this excellent lodge in the midst of Belize. The approach is maybe a bit too much farmland and not enough forest; the introductory talk perhaps a bit too laboured. But I'm just picking tiny nits of a terrific place. The location is excellent - in the plaza of an unexcavated Mayan site. The decor is perfect - individual cabins, each beautifully appointed, with all-round louvre windows so you can get the full in-the-rainforest experience or shut out the world as you wish. Good sensible food with a different speciality steak every night, and a good bar too.

Then, the reason you come - the wildlife. First thing to say is you need a local guide - we went as a group and on one brief outing without a local guide saw almost nothing. But once properly accompanied, the forest opened up its many secrets. Excellent and very rare birds - Ornate Hawk Eagle, Rufous Piha, Purple-crowned Fairy and so on. Someone claimed a Jaguar sighting while we were there but there was a lot of doubt about this, but even without the big cats (which are almost impossibly difficult in central America) it's a delight for forest-lovers. Night drives can be productive too.

A great place in a very interesting country.

  • Stayed: March 2012, traveled with friends
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3  Thank nuthatch_birder
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 5, 2012

We were five birders who had not birded together before. Six nights, five full days of birding in April, 2012, and side trips offered by the lodge were ideal for bonding our friendship even further. We logged 138 species, many new for us, including the Ornate Hawk Eagle at the Escarpment and an American Pygmy Kingfisher at the river. While we did not see a jaguar or the Lovely Cotinga, we did enjoy several sightings of Howler and Spider Monkeys, and a coyote. The birds were active and we almost tired of seeing the Slaty-tailed Trogon and Pale-billed Woodpecker, there were so many of them.

The Howlers' chorus at night is something almost otherworldly and quite thrilling because it is so unusual. We are used to Howlers in Costa Rica, but there is a different species in Belize and the vocalizations are very different.

A charter flight to Gallon Jug avoids a four-hour drive.The private bungalow accommodations with palm thatched roofs are extraordinarily comfortable and well designed considering the remote location. The food was excellent, though the choices were a bit repetitive after three or four days. The naturalist guides are local natives who really know the area and thanks to one, Luis, we spotted many birds we would not have seen otherwise. (And he has a great scope). We would recommend the trips to Laguna Seca and the Escarpment, but not the night drive which was disappointing, as we saw little more than a tarantula and the eyes of some mapaches (raccoons).

We recommend Chan Chich. It is simply one of the best places we've ever been. Perhaps someone not interested in birds might be bored there, but an observant person who loves nature in general--and tropical forests--will be content there for days if you like hiking well-maintained trails. Don't even think of going to Chan Chich without high quality binoculars!

Room Tip: My husband and I had Bungalow #9 which was PERFECT, farthest from the pool area and from the restaur...
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  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled with friends
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2  Thank Gail H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 30, 2012

The reason you come to Chan Chich is to spot wildlife. It is heavily marketed on its jaguar sightings indeed one was spotted the day before we arrived, but alas we were not so lucky. In fact our animal sightings (apart from the monkeys (howlers and spider monkeys) were very sparse and as nothing compared with over places we have stayed. Part of the problem is that despite it being marketed as part of the Selva Maya (the great forest of the Yucatan) much of the forest here is very recent secondary regrowth so the habitat is actually degraded. And in fact the owners are still taking out significant quantities of mature trees as well as we learned allowing prospecting for oil. We didn't see this but we did hear that the prospectors show little respect for the wildlife. The accommodation is in a very beautiful setting within the overgrown ruins of a Mayan plaza. The thatched cabin accommodation has a deliberately rustic feel but you are very open to view so careful when undressing. That said the staff are very discreet as well as polio, helpful and charming. Food is very good but a limited menu and if here for more than a few days you will be repeating choices. There is a nice swimming pool and spa with insect netting.

  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled with family
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3  Thank Gaitero61
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 23, 2012

We stayed 4 nights at Chan Chich, having done quite a bit of research into where to stay in Belize to see the wildlife. We arrived after an early flight in a 4- seater plane – you need to take soft bags, as cases will not fit in the plane.
The whole location is beautiful and the chalets most picturesque and very private. The chalets have wide over hangs to keep them relatively cool and you also have a ceiling fan, which I needed on high.
The chalets provide coffee and drinking water. On the verandas of the chalets they have hammocks and a day bed which was lovely. We also had a humming bird feeder, on each veranda and it was lovely to see the humming birds feed. They have humming bird feeders on the veranda of the restaurant and it was lovely to see them feeding. The main veranda also has an excellent selection of wild life books to view.
The staff and the guides could not do more for you – the guides are very knowledgeable about the bird life and have very powerful binoculars so that you can see the bird life which are very high up in the trees. We took a number of early morning walks, night walks and drives. We did see a number of birds, high up in the trees, but unfortunately no mammals. The paths around the location are quite difficult to manage, with the rocks and the tree roots, so you have to watch where you are putting your feet and some paths are quite steep. The best trip was a morning ride to Laguna Seca as it seemed you saw more wildlife outside the main trails which had a lot of undergrowth and it was better to more in the open.
The meals were very good and really too much – most main courses would have fed two people. Good wine selection and spirits at reasonable prices
The pool and whirl pool were very welcome after doing one of the trails as it was very humid and hot – plenty of towels.
All in all a lovely time, but would have like to have seen more mammals, even although we were walking 3-4 hours daily

Room Tip: All chalets are lovely
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  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled with friends
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1  Thank Surrey 13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 22, 2012

A beautiful resort in the midst of a Mayan site in the midst of a wonderful hacienda with a coffee plantation, orange groves, lakes, cattle and horseback riding. There was truly awesome birding. And my wife and I were not birders and we loved every minute. We identified 76 beautiful birds and really got caught up in the whole thing.
Really terrific food and I mean really terrific. The cabanas were great with a giant bathroom and the living space had wonderful louvered sides so it was like being outdoors.
Great day trips to Tikal (Mayan history with great pyramids) and to the fun ATM cave site (again Mayan but with a "water park" feel).
And the staff...I cannot remember anywhere I have traveled across the world where the staff was so very warm and helpful. I should say this again, the staff was GREAT.
We did bird tours with a guide from 6-8AM and 4-6PM along with night rides to look for the jaguars. We took our own walks in the daytime or sat by the very nice pool or in the very nice jacuzzi. We spent 10 days there.
Chan Chich was relaxing and rewarding. Anyone would love it there.

Room Tip: Go for the deluxe rooms
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  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank rweis1d
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 22, 2012

My wife and I booked a trip to Belize through Orvis this spring. The primary portion of the trip was so I could fly fish for Bonefish and Permit and my wife could relax on the beach. Since we both enjoy bird watching, we decide to combine this with a stay at Chan Chich. Best decision we ever made! I have nothing but praise about our stay which began with a scenic flight from Belize City to the Gallon Jug farm in a small private plane. We were amazed to see deer out in the fields at the farm. After spending most of the day in airports getting to Belize, it was nice to finally arrive at our destination. The resort grounds are beautiful with colorful vegetation and native plants throughout. The staff at Chan Chich was friendly and attentive. We stayed in one of the private cabanas which was spectacular. The bedroom had a king sized bed in the middle with open screens and shutters surrounding it. The bath room was even better with a large double sink lavatory and a huge shower with two rainbird shower heads. The overhead ceiling fan kept the inside temperature cool in fact at night we had to shut it off. Our first night was a memorable one. We turned in early because of the exhausting travel and around 8:00 Pm (it gets dark early), we began to hear a loud growling noise outside our cabana. I knew we were going to see Howler monkees but I thought they began howling early in the mornning and I didn't know what they sounded like. My wife and I were a little concerned at first but then fell asleep. Our naturalist guide, Marvin, informed us the next day that the sounds were Howler monkees. We both got a big laugh out of that. Marvin is a native Belizian and the most wonderful individual we met on our entire trip. He has an amazing knowledge of the flora and fauna of the area and a calm soft personality. We saw everything from Keel-Billed Toucans to Leaf Cutter ants, gorgeous Orchids and yes, Howler monkees. The meals at Chan Chic were great and we especially enjoyed the relative private relaxing outdoor dining area. We also enjoyed sitting on the porch of our cabano and watching the hummingbirds and other wildlife within a few feet of the porch. I would highly recommend this as great place to get away from the stress of work and just relax amidst the natural beauty of the jungle. The only criticism we had of Chan Chic is the temperature of the pool, which sits in a screened in area with beautiful plants. The pool and the hot tub were a little too cold for our liking. It was hard to leave after only 2 days. I recommend staying at least 4 days. We will definitely return to Chan Chic.

  • Stayed: March 2012, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Terry D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Chan Chich Lodge

Address: Gallon Jug | Wamil, Orange Walk, Belize
Location: Belize > Orange Walk District > Orange Walk
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 8 B&Bs / Inns in Orange Walk
Price Range: $288 - $580 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Chan Chich Lodge 3.5*
Number of rooms: 15
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Retrace the footsteps of the Maya, wander our extensive trail system and discover the unforgettable flora, fauna and Maya history unique to this tropical paradise. With an unparalleled abundance of wildlife(and the best chance to see the elusive jaguar in its natural habitat) Chan Chich is an extraordinary destination for naturalists, birders and for those seeking an authentic retreat to the jungle. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Chan Chich Hotel Orange Walk
Chan Chich Lodge Belize/Orange Walk

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