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“Rustically elegant jungle experience”

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The Lodge at Chaa Creek
Ranked #5 of 14 Hotels in San Ignacio
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 19 January 2010

If you are going to Belize then your experience will not be complete unless you spend some time in the jungle. Chaa Creek is the best of the best when it comes to resorts in the Cayou district. The tree house cabana in which we stayed was fabulous. It was very roomy, clean, had a spectacular deck that included a hot tub and overlooked the Macal river. We happened to be there during a winter cold front (coldest low temp, 56 F, since '81) and so it was a little cool. The cabanas do not have glass in the windows, only screens. Combine that with the tatched roof which is optimized for hot temperatures and the temperature in your room is actually less than that outside! That's good when it's hot but not so good when it's chilly. Nonetheless, the staff was great and we had fun learning all about the jungle flora and fauna from our nature guide, David. Canoeing on the river was also a great experience and we would recommend canoeing downstream to San Ignacio and having them pick you up, about a 2 hour paddle. As is true for most places in Belize, the food is just average. It's not bad but not great either. That's really the only negative that I can think of associated with this very unique resort. Oh, and the spa there was also one of the highlights with their expert massage therapists.

  • Stayed: January 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank COTravelers94
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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1,092 - 1,098 of 1,230 reviews

Reviewed 18 January 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.

  • Stayed: January 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank thewasches
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 January 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, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank richters25
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 January 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, travelled as a couple
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20  Thank jem83roma
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 January 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, travelled with family
5  Thank oyyveyy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 January 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, travelled as a couple
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Thank LPTexasusa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 December 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, travelled as a couple
Thank maddy5
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

Address: Macal River, San Ignacio, Belize
Phone Number:
Region: Belize > Cayo > San Ignacio
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Business Centre 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:
#2 Business Hotel in San Ignacio
#2 Family Hotel in San Ignacio
#3 Romantic Hotel in San Ignacio
#3 Spa Hotel in San Ignacio
Price Range: £354 - £474 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — The Lodge at Chaa Creek 3.5*
Number of rooms: 28
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Our guests say they appreciate Chaa Creek’s eco-friendly blend of pristine nature and a casually luxurious built environment, and enjoy the flexibility and choice we offer in accommodations, amenities, meals, tours and expeditions. Our wide range of accommodations allow guests to select lodgings that range from the rustic charm of the Macal River Camp to the unparalleled luxury of the new Ix Chel Luxury Rainforest Villas, whose stunning views, private Jacuzzis, plunge pools and amenities such as the attention of a personal butler have set new standards for excellence in a pristine natural environment. In addition, our infrastructure and nationwide network of colleagues enable us to offer a range of comprehensive, hassle-free tours and all-inclusive Belize vacation packages that cater to all ages, interests and levels of fitness. For example, our close relationships with premier Belizean reef and island resorts at Ambergris Caye, Placencia and other Caribbean vacation spots allow us ... 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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