Portofino Resort- Now with a new BEACH BAR!!
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#111095 - 11/11/05 02:21 PM Caves Branch / Ian Anderson
jungle jinx Offline
I have just returned from my 4th trip to Belize and my 3rd stay at Caves Branch. I have to say that Caves Branch is better than ever! Every time I return, I am surprised how much more that Ian has done to move his jungle lodge into the realm of a true jungle / adventure experience while providing the little amenities of true jungle luxury.

Most recently since my last visit is the new jungle lodge, 6000. sq feet of open air, mahogany, tropical cedar and natural cane with 12 foot ceilings. All the 12 foot suport posts were hand carved by craftsmen, not a machine touched them and the floor is tiled in hand made terra cotta clay tiles. The entire appearance fits right into its surroundings.

The meals were even better than I remembered them to be and that was a hard show to follow.

During my most recent visit, all the guides were undergoing their annual recertification of their medical and rescue training. From a distance I observed what could be considered to be no less than premium first world training being given to the guides who all had to do two days of hands on scenarios to prove their recertifiacton. I was impressed!

I'm writing in specific after reading Marys posting on the Disaster and Rescue Response Teams busy week. See:


I was at Caves Branch during that week. I saw it all:
. the rescue team arriving back from Mexico, totally exhausted from their 9 days of work at the epicentre of Hurricane Wilma
. The flurry of activity between 8:30 and 9: am when 12 guides loaded their trucks and raced out the driveway to rescue 6 tourists and their 3 guides from flooding rivers and returning just 5 hours later with smiles on their faces after a successful rescue of guests that were not even theirs.
. they allowed me to volenteer the day of the Belmopan disaster scenario, I was covered with blood and tried my best to be a "good" victim. The scene was chaotic, as it was meant to be, the whole while being supervised by Ian Anderson, the Caves Branch and DARRT teams.
. and the following day when a number of the Caves Branch staff, along with Ian set off to pick up the kids in Belmopan for a days outing.

I can't say, after returning home and giving the week some thought, just how impressed I was with the selfless volenteerism of Ian Anderson and his Caves Branch oganization.

Of course while this was all going on, the lodge itself provided top notch services as usual.

I know it costs me a bit more to stay at Caves Branch than some other jungle lodges. It works out to costing me about 3 beers a day more .. something I can certainly handle. But for the cost of 3 beers a day, I know that I am in the hands of people who would be called upon on rescueing me from the less professional hands of other tour operations if an incident occured .. for the cost of about 3 beers a day, I know I am in the hands of some of the most highly trainied adventure guides in not only Belize, but from what I have personally seen, perhaps the world .. for the cost of about 3 beers a day, I will continue opting for the Caves Branch experience with Ian Anderson and his team.

After all, look what the cost of those 3 beers are supporting: a disaster rescue and response team that might save your life someday even if you are not staying at Caves Branch, a team that responds to national and international disasters and an oganization that is working with "Youth at risk" within the country .. Not to mention the finest adventure jungle lodge in Belize.

All for the cost of a few beers .. Ian Anderson and Caves Branch has my vote!

#111096 - 11/11/05 10:07 PM Re: Caves Branch / Ian Anderson
DLM2000 Offline
jungle jinx - thank you for that report. I have my first trip to Belize planned for 12/17 and will be staying at Caves Branch the first half and on Ambergris at Ramon's the second half. This is a family trip and although I checked into the safety ratings at Caves (and they were excellent), it's also good to hear it from a customer. This will be a family trip with our sons - 20 and 16. We are all 'outdoorsy' types and look forward to the experience. We haven't picked our particular excursions for Caves yet.....any recommendations?


#111097 - 11/12/05 10:04 PM Re: Caves Branch / Ian Anderson
jungle jinx Offline
Heck Yeah, The two most incredible adventures of my life were both at Caves Branch: The black Hole Drop and the Waterfall expedition.

The black hole drop starts off with the fun ride to the jungle edge on the "Jungle Limo", an old tractor pulling a flat deck. Something we from the US never have a chance to do these days. Reminded me from a ride through the old pumpkin fields years ago. From there there is a very .. demanding .. hike for about 1.5 hours up to the rim of the sinkhole. Don't worry though, the guides are great and take all the breaks you might need while insisting on your water intake.

From the top edge of the sinkhole which must be a kilometre across ( half mile) you are harnessed up and hooked onto the rappel ropes.

Then, after some very good instructions, soothing words and lots of eye contact .. you take you first steps over the edge .. a 300 foot edge.

The rest you'll have to experience for yourself, but just dont miss it. Your kids will Love it.

Then the Waterfall cave expedition. Hundreds of feet below the jungle floor, hiking upstream through a spectacular river cave .. crystal clear pool, cascading waterfalls ( 6 in all ) you have to rock climb up and through the waterfalls to get to the next one , and so on. At the end of the day, its plunge pooling all the way back.

Dont' miss either of them. But there are so many other adventures offered.

Let us know how you enjoyed your trip.

#111098 - 11/12/05 10:38 PM Re: Caves Branch / Ian Anderson
NYgal Offline
Thanks for sharing your experiences...what a wonderful place to stay....minus 3 beers (daily) laugh
Only if others would see things your way wink

It's truly remarkable practice for the safety of others.
I would loved to have seen them smile

#111099 - 11/13/05 12:41 PM Re: Caves Branch / Ian Anderson
DLM2000 Offline
Oh I am so psyched for this trip I can't even tell you! The Black Hole Drop was on our list already but good to know about the waterfall cave trip - so hard to decide - we have the opportunity to do 3 trips. Then we get to recuperate on Ambergris. You can keep the beers! I want something tropical with a tacky paper umbrella stuck in it....on the beach, of course!


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