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“Jungle Luxury”

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Ian Anderson's Caves Branch Jungle Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 1 April 2014

What a great find to start off our trip in Belize! My husband had been researching the Mayan ruins and Tikal when we started looking at traveling to Belize and somehow ran across Ian Anderson's in the process. Set in the jungle, it's a beautiful, rustic adventure for everyone who stays! There are various accommodation types depending on your needs and the number of people in your party. We opted for the jungle bungalow since there were only 2 of us and it was great. All of the rooms are off little paths throughout the jungle, there are indoor and outdoor showers, hammocks, and they are peaceful and quiet unless the howler monkeys are up! There is no AC, no outlets, no Wi-Fi....so you really are enjoying nature!! Although it was quite hot while we were there, the ceiling fan circulated great air and it did get cool at night! There is a lovely pool area and it's a nice cool off after a hot day on your adventure trip! Meals are family style, you are assigned to a table and then everyone eats at once. Don't be alarmed by their obsession with hand sanitizer! The food is great...main dishes and side dishes with a little bit of Belizian flair mixed in! We even ate with Ian Anderson himself one evening! The bar is great and everyone is very friendly and efficient! As far as the adventures, there are many to choose from and you just need to use your judgement while knowing your own limits when picking what you want to do! We opted for the all day trip to Tikal which was amazing! It's about a 4 hour trip to get there but that includes a stop for breakfast (with the hands down most fabulous tortillas I have ever eaten and fresh pineapple juice that is so good I may have had an entire pitcher myself!) and another bathroom break. The ruins are amazing, I can't describe them any other way! We also did the river tubing/caving adventure and it too was fun. I do recommend Keen type sandals if you are doing this adventure...they say wear tennis shoes but unless you plan on throwing them in the trash afterwards don't do it! They will never dry in Belize and they will smell terrible anyway so either wear a pair that you can trash or wear something that has a good sole, covers your toes and can get easily washed! Neither adventure was strenuous, the Tikal trip involved walking on trails to the ruins and climbing them only if you wanted to! The river tubing one involved climbing in caves and using your arms as oars on the tube, children in our group had no trouble with any of this!

I think my only gripe about the whole experience was the check-out. They hand you the bill, along with a sheet to make recommendations and then a sheet to give tips to every possible person and then a sheet to donate to their chess club. And the person checking you out sits there and watches you fill things out. Don't get me wrong, I was happy to leave a tip because I had a great experience but I feel as though if a place wants to put tip sheets out there and expect you to fill it out every listed category, they should just add a service charge. My suggestion is to place a tip box on the desk and let people donate what they wish to that. The money can be divided evenly between employees and I'm not put in a spot where I get a dirty look for not tipping a category listed on the sheet. The same can be said for their chess club thing...a donation box goes a long way.

  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank kidzrn76
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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403 - 409 of 884 reviews

Reviewed 30 March 2014

Before I went on this trip, I did tons of research primarily through TripAdvisor so I pretty much knew what to expect. Well, this exceeded my expectations. What an amazing combination of rustic luxury with amazing adventures!! We stayed 5 nights, and I really want to go back to do some of the expeditions we weren't able to fit in.

We were a family of 5 and stayed in a 2 story river view treehouse. Our three kids (14,12, and 9) all slept on the main level while my husband and I had the 2nd story. Both levels had screened views of the jungle. We slept to the sounds of the jungle.

The food at this place was truly amazing. They always had something for everyone with the wide variety they provided. Plus, there were several vegetarians/vegan guests during our visit and the kitchen staff seemed to really try to make sure their needs were met at each meal. Dinner consisted of FOUR COURSES! The first course was generally a chip and dip appetizer followed by the pasta/salad bar course. The third course was the main meal with several meat options and a wide variety of veggies/bread. The final dessert course was generally my favorite but I have a sweet tooth. At the end of the trip, Chef Peter was so kind to give me the 4 recipes I requested. I am so hoping to be able to recreate them.

The 4 adventures we did were the Black Hole drop, Waterfall Cave, Tikal ruins, and the Belize zoo/zipline combination. The Black Hole was a very strenuous hike through the jungle highlighted by a 300ft rappel into a sinkhole. I never thought I would rappel in my lifetime - truly this was never on my bucket list. But, I can't tell you how much fun this was and what a sense of accomplishment I had when it was over. The total hike was over 6 miles with most of it uphill or downhill (very little was even terrain). However, the guides did an amazing job of stopping along the way for us to drink water or sit down for a minute. My 9 year old (as well as my older 2 kids) was able to hike it just fine! Our guide, Julio, did a wonderful job explaining the entire process of rappelling and I felt so much safer because I understood that it was a virtual impossibility to fall. The Waterfall Cave was probably my favorite. There are 7 waterfalls deep inside a cave that you climb over. Then, on the return trip, you either jump off of them or some you can just 'shimmy' down. Bottom line, you get wet - submerged at times. Although the water was a little cold, the cave itself was quite warm and humid so I never felt cold. The cave itself was absolutely beautiful and I loved the entire experience. The trip to Tikal to see the Mayan ruins was long but completely worth it. We left at 5:30am and returned back by about 5pm in plenty of time to shower before dinner. Our 'calm' day was the zoo/zipline combination. Highly recommend both. The zoo was truly amazing and not your typical US zoo. I was able to 'high five' a jaguar named Lucky Boy who really was lucky to have been saved by this zoo. The zipline consisted of 5 lines of zip lining. We had done this in Jamaica several years ago and the Chukka zipline in Belize was much tamer in comparison. That's ok because we had already had our fill of extreme adventures for the week.

With the exception of the Tikal trip, we were able to unwind each afternoon by the pool with a fun drink in hand. Local beers and rum drinks were included in our package, and I think they lost money on us. Our kids were able to drink sodas, juice, and fruit punch. As a splurge, our 2 girls got a virgin strawberry daiquiri which was not included in our package.

I could go on and on. All I can say is GO! It is so worth it if you like an adventure type trip.

Room Tip: Get a treehouse!
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  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled with family
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2  Thank ash4959
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 March 2014

Our trip to Caves Branch was like none other! There is nothing lacking at this beautiful jungle hideaway. The day trips were all fantastic in their own way. You spend the entire day with one or two guides, and they are there for you - to answer your questions, help your kids, really give you every tip to keep you comfortable and safe. We tubed with Pablo and Rosa and visited the Mayan ruins with Carlos. The morning breakfast was such a fantastic start after sleeping in your screened in jungle bungalow surrounded by the jungle and it sounds. The kids loved to squeeze their own juice each morning. The packed lunch on the cavetube hike is so good - the tortillas can almost stand on their own. The pooltime after the outing and before dinner was all the kids needed to completely wear them out.

And then dinner - where to start?! Every night Anthony made sure we all sat down with our drinks while we listened to him describe what Chef Jay had in store for us! Those two could take their show on the road! The kids got such a kick out of both of them. Although, if the food wasn't good, the comedy would've only taken them so far - but the food was perfect. There is so much - which is great after a long day's adventures. Abel came around to talk to us each night at dinner about what tour we were interested in for the next day. He was honest and encouraging - he wants everyone to enjoy themselves - if he didn't think you or your group could handle a particular outing - he said so up front.

We had a family member under the weather one evening and Carmen took soup and bread to him at dinnertime. These people treat you like family - which is necessary when you realize you are in the middle of the jungle with no modern world comforts within miles!

Room Tip: The treehouses are amazing but you should be up for the climb to get to them!
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  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled with family
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1  Thank Traci B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 March 2014

It's grown up since my first visit in 2001. Friends we sent here told us about the swim-up bar, but didn't mention how gorgeous it was! The grounds are beautiful. The food is well above average, especially considering as they are providing a buffet for 80 people. The accommodations are really, really neat--clean and beautiful.

But where this place shines is it's people and it's adventures. I keep coming back for the waterfall caves. Black hole drop is awesome, but the overnight cave is even better. There are other ones that are less adventurous, but why not get out of your comfort zone? Everyone we spoke to had a great time, whatever adventure they chose.

The staff here is magnificent. Personable, helpful, and really eager for you to share their country. Belizeans seem by nature very friendly--these guys take it to an art form. Really nice to hang out with everyone again, hope to come back soon!
And oh yes--it's a great value too! For everything you get, it's a great deal.

Room Tip: Cabanas are very comfortable. My wife misses the cabana boy who delivered us coffee every day.
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  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Gina M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 March 2014

Stayed 3 nights, needed one more. Great experience. The staff are wonderful. Anthony, Pedro, and several others were truly great.
Food at breakfast and dinner was more than amble and perfect. Lots of food (not sure about the reviews complaining of running out). My two daughters 9&7 were able to choose to their liking from the main courses and enjoyed as well. The family style is good as you sit with a different group and get to hear the different experiences. Helps with deciding what works for your family or group.
We did cave tubing and the zoo. The cave tubing guide (Ruben - I believe - was great). He knew the history well and took their time showing us around.
The zoo was with Shane. Shane worked at the zoo in the past and was a wealth of knowledge. All the guides are energetic and from the local area. They all seem to know a great deal of the history of Belize as well.
My wife enjoyed the botanical gardens at the lodge.
Outdoor shower was wonderful. We were in the canopy tree house. I would recommend those over the lower rooms for the views, breeze, and roominess.
You are in the jungle, there will be ants and spiders - no way around it.

  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled with family
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Thank payton21
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 March 2014 via mobile

Our family has traveled throughout the world and Cave's Branch has been our favorite resort yet! We enjoy nature and the treehouses were like camping on steroids! Our accommodations were plush and the customer service was better than Disney! The adventures were beautiful and the guides took care of our every need. From the moment that Carmen greeted us and check in and escorted us to our treehouse (where some poor soul had already delivered all of our bags) to the wonderful meals announced by Anthony and served by Pedro and Daniel until the moment Ignacio shuttles us to our beach destination, it was perfect. Only thing we would have changed is staying longer. We can't wait to return again!

Stayed: March 2014
Thank Mrs_SBarker
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 March 2014

We went with our two girls (11 & 8) in March for four nights in one of the jungle treehouses. In short, everything was excellent.
Food - Overall very good. The breakfasts were top notch incl. fresh squeezed OJ. The dinners were very good for buffet style- a whole ton of food, incl. a kids entree every night and a pasta dish. Did not have lunch there - always on expeditions.
Room - Wow. Our treehouse overlooked the river. The outdoor shower was awesome, no problems with bugs. Plenty of hot water, housekeeping was excellent as well. My only complaint was that as they are now 5ish years old there were some missing/cracked tiles that need replacing in the outdoor shower. As an FYI, there is one outlet in the room (in addition to the fans/lights) - also no a/c of course as it is entirely screened in!
Expeditions - Always felt safe and appreciated the air conditioned vans! We did the local Mayan ruins (my favorite), horseback riding and zoo/zip lining. The guides were uniformly excellent.

Generally, you get up in the morning, go on your expedition du jour which returns you in the late afternoon. Then you can hang out in the excellent pool or tour the fantastic botanical gardens. Then dinner and bedtime. Two of our highlights were having breakfast with the owners one morning and seeing an anteater in the trees in front of our treehouse. Overall, cannot recommend it enough.

  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled with family
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Thank seawolf72
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:
Region: Belize > Cayo > Belmopan
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 13 Speciality Lodging in Belmopan
Price Range: £132 - £439 (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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