We unanimously agree that Belize has been our favorite family trip to date. Which is saying something because we have been a few places…haha. After our time playing at the beach and in the ocean around Hopkins, we jumped in the shuttle to be whisked away on our next adventure into the heart of the jungle. Our Belize “home” for the rest of our trip would be in a tree house in the jungle at Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch Adventure Co. and Jungle Lodge. Being a travel agent, I booked through the travel company, Viva Belize.*
This adventure lodge is in the heart of the jungle and off the grid. They do have hot and cold water and offer WiFi in the dining room only (But seriously, you are in a jungle in Belize, I think you can put that phone down for a couple days). Not all of the accommodations have electrical outlets since the lodge runs on generators. Although, my husband does use a sleep apnea machine at night. I emailed them ahead of time about it and they were happy to accommodate him and gave us a room that had an outlet. You need to remember too that Cave’s Branch is a genuine jungle lodge and there are no fences to keep critters out, big or small, furry or slithering. Just keep that in mind before you book. But that was exactly what we were looking for and we loved the idea of the jungle lodge, critters and all.
Upon arrival we were warmly greeted by the manager. We checked in, signed our waivers stating that we knew that there were all kinds of animals roaming about the lodge and wouldn’t sue if we got bit by something. That was a new one for us and a little eye opening to just how far out there we were. They took our luggage to be delivered to our tree house and took us to the dining room for lunch. All meals are served family buffet style at the same time each day. We were late for lunch, but the chef happily whipped up some lunch for us. As always, I had emailed the chef ahead of time and told him about our gluten free dietary needs and he was happy to work with us. He came out to talk with us about our diet and then before we knew it, we were served a gourmet, gluten free lunch. To see more information about their restaurant, click here.
Feeling pleasantly stuffed, we decided to wander through the botanical gardens at the Lodge. The botanical gardens here contain the largest collection of bromeliads and orchids in the country, as well as a lot of plants we had never seen before!!
After exploring the gardens we went to check out our River view Tree House:
The tree house does not have any glass windows. It is all screens that wrap around, so it feels like you are truly sleeping outside, with all of the sounds of the jungle surrounding you. As we learned the first night, that can actually be very loud and the sound the howler monkeys make is a little disconcerting. They sound like a woman screaming. It might not be a bad idea to bring some ear plugs just in case you’re sensitive to noise when sleeping.
Then of course, the girls were very antsy to get into that pool:
We were definitely ready for the huge dinner that was waiting for us in the dining room at 6:30. Like I mentioned before, it’s all done buffet style. You are assigned to a different table each meal. That way you get to know more of the guests and talk about your fantastic adventures of the day. If the main dish for the evening was not gluten free, the chef had already set aside a similar gluten free option for me and my girls so we never went without. Although, even if he hadn’t done that, there was still a TON of food that was naturally gluten free, including their cheeses that they make at the lodge. Still, I loved the look in his eye when he would get my attention and call me over to him so he could reveal his gluten free creation he had made just for us. He was really so kind and thoughtful. He even made me and the girls fresh corn tortillas just for us every morning since we couldn’t have the bread.
There is so much the lodge offers as far as adventure day trips, which I will post about in another post. But even at the lodge itself, there is a ton to do!! They have a recreation center with ping pong, mini basketball, and shuffleboard. There is a gazebo in the middle of the gardens where they offer massages. It’s super peaceful!! You can explore the botanical gardens or wander down by the river. You can learn how to make cheese, take morning guided nature hikes to see their 165 species of birds that call Caves Branch their home. They have a great pool and hot tub area. You can catch a glimpse of howler monkeys, leaf cutting ants, frogs, snakes, etc. And the food!! Did I mention the food? We ate like kings and walked away from every meal stuffed and happy. The food was very fresh and there was a plethora of gluten free options available. Even on our day trips, the guides would either pack a gluten free lunch for us, or take us to a nearby restaurant that had plenty of gluten free options. Nearby, on the Hummingbird Highway, and within walking distance of around a half mile is the Blue Hole National Park. (Note: This is not the famous scuba diving spot also called the Blue Hole in Belize )
The Blue Hole had once been a cenote when the roof of the underground cave collapsed leaving behind this beautifully clear water to swim in. We went later in the day and had it all to ourselves. There is a long flight of stairs that you must descend to get to it, so it’s not particularly handicap accessible. But if you can make it, the bottom is nice and sandy and perfect for a refreshing swim! They do charge a fee of $8 to swim there, but it is well worth it.
If you are looking for an authentic jungle adventure while staying in unique accommodations and making lifelong memories with your loved ones….this is the place for you!! We can’t wait until we can go back, and this time we will spend way more time in the jungle.
*I’m not getting any kind of affiliate commission for this post or was encouraged to write it by Viva Belize or Ian Anderson’s Lodge. This is just my opinion.