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#23740 - 07/21/00 01:05 AM Going Inland
Suzy Q Offline
My fiance and I will be on our honeymoon the first two weeks in September in AC. For the last 4 or so days we are planning on going inland. Specifically to Tikal. Does anyone know what the border crossing is like, and where to stay near the capitol or San Ignacio?
Honestly - do I need malaria stuff for being inland for 4 days?
How will the weather be in early September?

Thanks for any info!
SuzyQ

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#23741 - 07/21/00 02:05 AM Re: Going Inland
Chris Offline
The trip to Tikal is much better now that the road from the border is 90% tarmac. You'll probably want to spend at least 1 night in Tikal...September is a slower month so lodgings there won't be a problem.

Staying around San Ignacio....Black Rock Lodge or Duplooys...both fantastic places to stay. Both have web sites.

Malaria....take precautions, certainly, if only because the side effects are minimal and it's better to be safe.


Weather early September....some rain, some sunshine, guaranteed! And, somewhat cooler than the S. USA is right now!!

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#23742 - 07/21/00 02:01 PM Re: Going Inland
Lan Sluder/Belize First Offline
Check with your doctor, but yes, going to the Peten in the rainy season I would recommend an anti-malarial. Chloroquine works fine in this area and has few side effects.

The border crossing is easy, though effective August 1 there will be a US$10 fee, increasing to US$15 after the first of the year, probably. Many people take day tours from San Ignacio (around US$75 per person) which makes the trip painless, though staying at least overnight is worth it.

Below are some of our recommendations on jungle/cottage country lodges in and around Cayo in all price ranges, from the new Belize First Guide to Mainland Belize.

--Lan Sluder
Belize First Magazine http://www.turq.com/belizefirst/

>>

Hotel reviews copyright 2000 Belize First

Under US$200
* * * * * Chaa Creek Resort and Spa. Mick and Lucy Fleming started Chaa Creek in 1980 when tourists were almost unknown in Cayo. Over the years, they’ve expanded, improved and fine-tuned their operation until it has become one of the best-run, most-professional operations in all of Central America. Everything works here: The grounds, comprising a total of 330 acres on the Macal River, are beautifully planted and maintained. The 19 large rooms in whitewash-and-thatch duplex cottages, plus two upmarket suites, have high-quality furnishings set off with Guatemalan wall hangings and bedspreads, the perfect marriage of comfort and exoticism. The food and drink, if not of gourmet standard, are well-prepared and plentiful. Staffers are friendly, not fawning, and move quickly to solve any problem. There’s electricity, plenty of hot water and cold beer, and, if you like, Chaa Creek will sell you a Cuban cigar to smoke after dinner. The latest additions are a fully equipped, modern spa, by far the best in Belize, offering everything from aromatherapy to seaweed wraps, and a new conference and meeting center. The spa, and a name change (from Chaa Creek Cottages), mark a repositioning toward a more-upscale, less “lodgey” lodge. Whether that’s a good idea or not only time will tell. In any event, you won’t run out of things to do here, either. You can visit the Chaa Creek Natural History Centre and Blue Morpho Butterfly Breeding Centre, tour the Rainforest Medicine Trail (formerly Panti Trail) next door, go horseback riding or canoeing, or take one of the many top-notch tours offered by Chaa Creek Expeditions. Chaa Creek helped reintroduce howler monkeys to the Macal River Valley. Birding is excellent, with 247 species spotted on the grounds by Birds without Borders, which has an operation based at Chaa Creek. For those who want the Chaa Creek experience at a Feline’s basement price (US$100 double including meals), the Macal River Safari Camp has 10 small “cabinettes” on platforms, and Belizean-style meals that some say are better than meals at the main lodge. Rates: cottage room, US$165 to $190 double, suites US$200 to $365. Meals are extra: US$10 per person for breakfast, US$8 packed lunch, US$26 dinner. Summer packages are a relative bargain: Room and breakfast and dinner, plus some tours, goes for around US$127 per person per night, double occupancy, on a four-night package. P.O Box 53, San Ignacio; tel. 501-9-22037, fax 9-22501; e-mail chaacreek@btl.net; www.chaacreek.com. Directions: From San Ignacio, go 4 3/4 miles west on Benque Rd. (Western Hwy.) and turn left on Chial Rd. (look for signs to Chaa Creek, duPlooy’s and Black Rock lodges). Follow signs on this unpaved road 3 1/2 miles to Chaa Creek. AE, MC, V with no surcharge.

Under US$150
* * * * duPlooy’s. Since it opened in the late 1980s, duPlooy’s has been seen by some to play second fiddle to its Macal River neighbor, Chaa Creek. But that’s unfair, because duPlooy’s has its own style -- a little more casual, a little more oriented to birders and tree-huggers and nature lovers. On part of the lodge’s 60 acres about 10 miles from San Ignacio, Ken and Judy duPlooy -- he’s originally from Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and she’s from South Carolina -- created something very special: the Belize Botanic Gardens, with plantings of some 2,500 trees from all over Belize and Central America. An orchid house also is planned, although at press time construction is stalled, pending new funding. For most guests, the focus of the lodge is the remarkable deck, which rambles off from the bar. From vantage points on the long walkway over the Macal River, you’re sure to see a variety of birds, iguanas and other wildlife. Bring your camera and binoculars. About 300 species of birds have been identified within five miles of the lodge. In accommodations, duPlooy’s offers something for anyone. For the top-of-the-market segment, duPlooy’s has three large bungalow rooms, each with king-size bed, fridge and delicious hammock with a view down the hill to the Macal River, for US$150 double in-season. For mid-level travelers, there’s are eight rooms in two lodge buildings, with double beds and screened porches, with rates of US$115 double in-season. For the budget set, the lodge has six rooms, each with a double and single bed, sharing two baths in the Pink House, at US$40 double in-season. Meals are an extra US$35 per person. Note that duPlooy’s does not serve beef, due to what the owners consider rainforest deforestation associated with cattle ranching, but it does serve pork, chicken and seafood, along with vegetarian dishes. duPlooy’s also has a good selection of tours to all Cayo and Peten sites. Rates US$40 to $150 double in-season, 15% discount May 1-Nov. 30. Meal plans (including breakfast, lunch and dinner, US$35). Package plans of from two to seven nights including meals and tours are available, from US$350 to $1,230 per person. San Ignacio, tel. 501-9-23101, fax 9-23301; e-mail duplooys@btl.net; www.duplooys.com. Directions: From San Ignacio, go 4 3/4 miles west on Benque Rd. (Western Hwy.) and turn left on Chial Rd. (look for signs to Chaa Creek, duPlooy’s and Black Rock lodges). Follow signs on this unpaved road about 4 miles to duPlooy’s. AE, MC, V.

* * * * * Ek ‘Tun. Do you want a deluxe bed-and-breakfast type experience, with personalized attention and delicious home-cooked meals, but in a remote rainforest setting? Then Ek ‘Tun may be for you. Owners Ken and Phyllis Dart, originally from Colorado, and their pet dog Elwood have created a beautiful small lodge on 500 acres along the far reaches of the Macal River, about 12 miles upstream from San Ignacio. The two “rustically elegant” cottages can each sleep up to five. Hand built in the thatch Mayan style, each cottage has a large main room plus a loft and private bath with hot and cold water. Nearby are miles of hiking and horseback trails, river beaches and a stunning mineral water natural swimming pool. Birding in this area is excellent, and the serious birder is almost sure to add a number of rare species to the life list. Howler monkeys also frequent the area. Phyllis Dart calls the cooking at Ek ‘Tun “guerrilla gourmet” featuring healthful Belize and and international dishes with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Rates: US$217 double including breakfast and dinner and hotel tax. Package plans start at US$426 per person double occupancy for a three-night package with meals, tours, transfers and tax. Fax in the U.S. 303-442-6150; e-mail info@ektunbelize.com; www.ektunbelize.com. Directions: From San Ignacio, go 4 3/4 miles west on Benque Rd. (Western Hwy.) and turn left on Chial Rd. (look for signs to Chaa Creek, duPlooy’s and Black Rock lodges). Follow signs toward Black Rock for about 6 miles. You cannot get to Ek ‘Tun by road, as there is no bridge across the Macal River. Ek ‘Tun meets guests in San Ignacio or at the international airport, bringing them by Land Rover to the river, where they cross to the lodge on a skiff. MC, V and Discover with 5% surcharge.

* * * Mountain Equestrian Trails. M.E.T. , as it’s known, adjoins the Slate Creek Preserve of more than 3,000 acres. It’s near, but not in, the Mountain Pine Ridge. The lodge has gone through a number of changes in recent years, but with owner John Bevis back in the saddle things may be looking up again. The four thatch cabañas here are some of the nicer ones you’ll find at a lodge in Belize, though they don’t have electricity and the lighting is from kerosene lamps. As it name suggests, the lodge long has specialized in horseback riding. The quarter horses here are in good shape, and the guides try to match riders with horses. Rates US$120 double in-season, US$85 May 1-Dec. 14. Meals are extra, with breakfast US$7, lunch US$10, and dinner US$18. For budget travelers, there’s the Chiclero Trails safari tent camp, with rates of US$15 per person including tent, mattress and linens. Accepts MC and V with no surcharge. Pine Ridge Rd., Cayo; tel. 501-9-23319 ; fax 8-23361 or 800-838-3918 in the U.S.; e-mail AW2trav2Bz@aol.com; www.metbelize.com. Directions: Turn south off the Western Hwy. at Georgeville (Mile 62.7) and go about 8 miles on the unpaved Pine Ridge Rd. Watch for M.E.T. sign on left, near Green Hills Butterfly Farm.

Under US$100
* * Black Rock. This lodge enjoy a beautiful, remote setting above the Macal River, about a mile upriver from Ek’Tun. The original dark and fairly basic cottages have been upgraded, and new units constructed. Management is so-so. Rates US$95 double. Tel. 501-9-22341; e-mail blackrock@btl.net www.blackrocklodge.com. Directions: From San Ignacio, go 4 3/4 miles west on Benque Rd. (Western Hwy.) and turn left on Chial Rd. (look for signs to Chaa Creek, duPlooy’s and Black Rock lodges). Follow signs toward Black Rock for about 6 miles.

* * Crystal Paradise. This is one of the few lodges in Cayo owned and operated by Belizeans, in this case by the Tut family. Many of the numerous Tut family pitch in and help at the lodge, which is located near the village of Cristo Rey on the Macal River. You likely will be greeted by one of the junior Tuts. Mama and daughters do the cooking. Several of the older sons are guides. Granddad, now in his 90s, is an accomplished dugout canoe maker. With, or without? That’s the question: Do you want a cabaña with a thatch roof, or a simpler and cheaper room without? Either way, you get a private bath with hot and cold water, ceiling fan and 24-hour electricity. The Tuts offer horseback riding (US$65 per person for a full day), mountain bikes to rent, and a variety of tours. Rates: Thatch cabañas, US$95 double; regular roof cabañas, US$75 double, including breakfast and dinner, but not including tax or a 10% service charge. MC, V accepted. Crysto Rey Village, Cayo; tel. 501-9-22772, fax 9-12014; e-mail cparadise@btl.net; www. crystalparadise.com. Directions: From San Ignacio, take the Cristo Rey Rd. about 4 miles to Crystal Paradise. The lodge also has an office in San Ignacio, on Savannah St.

* * * Green Heaven. Run by a young French couple, Dominique Agius and Anne-Karine Chappaz, and opened in mid-1999, Green Heaven has quickly established itself as a top choice among moderate-priced lodges in Cayo. Dominique and Anne-Karine, along with Anne-Karine’s parents, frequent visitors from France, provide personal attention to guests and a friendly, casual atmosphere. The four wood and stucco cabins, scattered behind the main building on a low hill, are not deluxe, but they are attractively furnished with Guatemala fabrics and original art. After the generator shuts down around 11, you can light an oil lamp. There’s no river swimming here, but Green Heaven has the best swimming pool in Cayo, plus badminton, volley ball and pétanque. Dominique runs the restaurant, La Vie En Rose, serving French classics like Beef Bourguignon and crepes. Rates US$90 double Nov.-May, US$70 rest of year. AE, MC, V accepted. P.O. Box 155, Chial Road, San Ignacio; tel./ fax 501-9-12034, e-mail ghlodge@btl.net; www.ghlodgebelize.com. AE, MC, V with no surcharge.

* * * Maya Mountain Lodge. If you’re confused about where to stay and how much to pay, Maya Mountain might be the answer. Can’t decide whether to stay in town or out in the bush? Maya Mountain is in a quiet area, but it’s less than a mile from San Ignacio. Want comfortable, family-friendly accommodations with several rate options, lots of tours available, and extras like a (shallow) swimming pool? That’s also Maya Mountain. Bart and Suzi Mickler, Americans who have lived in Belize since the 1980s, have done a good job putting together something for just about everyone except those wanting the top-of-the-line jungle lodge experience or a party-hardy spot (there’s no bar). In summer the lodge runs educational programs. The restaurant serves healthful meals at moderate prices. The eight cottages were upgraded with tile baths and new curtains and other soft goods in 2000. Rates: Cottages are US$89 double and modest rooms with private baths $49 double in-season, cottages US$59 and rooms $35 May 1-Dec. 14. Some dorm-style accommodation is available for groups. Rates don’t include 10% service charge or tax. There also is a somewhat bewildering selection of discount deals and package plans. AE, MC, V accepted. P.O. Box 174, San Ignacio, Cayo; tel. 501-9-22154, fax 9-22029; e-mail adventure@mayamountain.com; www.mayamountain.com. Directions: From San Ignacio, take the Crysto Rey Rd. about 3/4 mile to Maya Mountain, on the right.

* * Nabitunich. You can see El Castillo at Xunantunich from this small lodge on the Mopan River just off the Western Highway. On the 400-acre cattle ranch are extensive Maya ruins, some excavated in recent years. Owner Rudy Juan is one of Cayo’s gentlemen. This is one of the better values in Cayo, with doubles around US$55. There’s a small restaurant, but no bar. Tel. 501-9-32096. Directions: From San Ignacio, take the Benque Rd. west about 5 1/2 miles. Nabitunich is on the right.

* * Warrie Head Lodge. The theme here is “colonial history in a natural setting” from the white lodge building to the mahogany furnishings in the 10 guest rooms. On the grounds of this former logging camp are several historic relics, including a steam tractor, once used to drag logs to the nearby Belize river, a horse-drawn sugar mill and old chicle pots. Owned by John and Bia Searle and managed by “Miss Lydia,” Warrie Head still caters mostly to groups, but individual guests are welcome. Miss Lydia serves up tasty dinners. Rates US$70 double in-season; from June 1-September 30, rates drop by US$5, and the seventh night is free with a week’s booking. AE, MC, V accepted. P.O. Box 244, Belize City; tel. 501-2-70755, fax 2-75213; e-mail: bzadventur@btl.net; www.warriehead.com. Directions: At mile 54 1/2 of the Western Highway.

Under US$50
* Clarissa Falls. This is a jungle lodge without the jungle, as it’s located on a 900-acre cattle ranch, down by the Mopan River. Popular with Belizeans for weekend outings, Clarissa Falls is loved by just about everyone, mainly because of the people who run it. Within minutes, owner Chena Chalvez will have you laughing, and her charming sister, Anna, cooks up some of the best Mestizo-style food in Cayo. The lodge, at the end of a dirt path through a large pasture off the Western Highway, has 11 thatch cabañas, nine with private bath, in a shady setting by the river. Two of the units are big enough for large families. No deluxe furnishings or air-conditioning here, but everything is clean, and there’s electricity and hot water. Most kids love Clarissa Falls, as they can swim, tube or canoe in the river, and then recharge with two soft tacos (US$75 cents) and a red Fanta. Besides the big brahma cattle and occasional sheep, you’ll see toucans and plenty of other birds; the resident parrot, Larry, slurps coffee. Rates start at US$40 double with private bath, though the family-sized units are well over US$100. Beds in a bunk house are US$7.50, and camping is US$3.75 per person. P.O. Box 44, San Ignacio, Western Hwy., tel. 501-9-23916. 5 1/2 miles west of San Ignacio -- turn right at green bus stop with Clarissa Falls sign and go about 1 mile through cattle pasture. MC, V with no surcharge.

* Parrot’s Nest. Ever wanted to sleep in a tree house? Parrot’s Nest at Bullet Tree Falls on the Mopan River, about 3 miles from San Ignacio, can make your dream come true. There are two cute tree houses, plus four cabins, all with outside facilities. Operated by a hard-working young couple, Chris and Theo Cocchi, Parrot’s Nest is for those who don’t mind a little rusticity. “High adventure at a low price” is the motto here. Theo is the daughter of Meb Cutlack, a noted writer and author on Belize subjects. Rates around US$25 to $33 double. No credit cards. P.O.Box 108, San Ignacio; 501-9-37008; e-mail evas@btl.net and put “Parrot’s Nest” in the subject line; www.parrot-nest.com. Directions: From San Ignacio, take Bullet Tree Falls Rd. about 3 miles.

Under US$25
Martz Farm. Simple accommodations on a working ranch owned by the Martinez family (there are 14 kids) at the site of a former chiclero camp. Horseback riding (about US$65 for a full day’s ride) and nature walks are available. Rates: US$25 double (for another one of those “tree house” cabins), US$7.50 for a room; get three meals a day for US$13 per person. Mile 8, Hydro Rd., tel. 501-9-23742; www./members.tripod.com/~vacabush/.
_________________________
Lan Sluder/Belize First
http://www.belizefirst.com

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#23743 - 07/21/00 04:55 PM Re: Going Inland
Debbie Offline
My family and I stayed at duplooy's during our vacation. We were VERY impressed. The lodging and bungalows were fantastic. Fresh bouquet of jungle flowers upon arrival. A fridge for cold drinks, king size bed etc. Kersone lamps in the room. Very romantic after dark out on the porch, laying in the hammock listening to the night symphony that the jungle makes. The best part was that they will arrange the Tikal trip for you. The price, I think it was $250 for the four of us, included the transportation in an airconditioned van, a private escort and guide who took care of EVERYTHING. He handled our passports and fees at the border, made sure we didn't get ripped off by the money changers, and translated, ordered our lunch in advance so it was ready when we were, got us a top notch english speaking guide to the Tikal park, paid our entrance fees, took us shopping to the best places in guatamala, and was a wealth of knowledge about Mayan culture and history, as he was Mayan himself. We did not stay the night, but the guide will arrange that for you as well. We felt very safe, very pampered and very comfortable.

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#23744 - 08/05/00 05:56 AM Re: Going Inland
Karen Pasquariello Offline
A favorite of mine is Banana Bank Lodge. Thatched roof cabanas set in the jungle with wildlife on site, including Tika, the jaguar. John and Carolyn, the owners are wonderful. They are from the states and have been in Belize for years. Carolyn is an artist and has a gallery on site. John is a cowboy from Montana. It's great to horseride in the jungle. Think the rooms are air conditioned by now.
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Karen Pasquariello

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#23745 - 08/05/00 05:15 PM Re: Going Inland
Anonymous
wow, air cinditioned! when i stayed at banana bank in 1993, there wasn't electricity, only lanterns to read by, and we were the only ones there. visited the inland blue hole from there and rio frio caves (very cool),the horseback riding was a real adventure, guides with machetties(sp) and all! however, it would be a far trek to tikal from there, may want to stay in cayo, we stayed at san ignacio hotel (basic accommodations) to see xunantunich (sp) it was really cool and only a day trip. we had the best chinese food in my life in san ignacio!

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#23746 - 08/06/00 03:33 AM Re: Going Inland
Karen Pasquariello Offline
Yes, Banana Bank has made some changes, it looks great! Not sure if they had the open air thatched cabana in '93, it is now an enclosed restaurant, and what an experience to listen to John Carr tell stories over dinner. They have also added corrals, equestrian center and working on some type of recreational center. I love the evenings there, listening to the jungle sounds and the birds. And they have a tremendous telescope to star & planet gaze. It is a trek from B.B. to Tikal, but can be done, especially since they have worked on the road. I usually recommend over nighting in Tikal if people don't like a long day trip.
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Karen Pasquariello

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#23747 - 08/06/00 04:37 AM Re: Going Inland
Anonymous
karen - i liked the morning sounds there. i was getting up at like 6 am (being on eastern time) and i would just sit there. another world. sometimes a parrot flew over, but then carolyn had two. i got bit by fire ants there and their spider monkey climbed all over us! back then, we were told that guatamala was still dangerous and americans shouldnt go unescorted, and to have their papers ready. guess a lot has changed.

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#23748 - 08/06/00 03:37 PM Re: Going Inland
Lan Sluder/Belize First Offline
Just to clarify why Banana Bank wasn't included in our list of lodges in Cayo -- we list and review it in the Belmopan/Hummingbird Highway section of our guide, as it's some 20 miles from San Ignacio. Below is our listing of top jungle lodges in the Belmopan area.

By the way, I need to double-check but as I recall Banana Bank still does not have air-conditioning, though a few months ago it did get on the power grid so it has 24-hour electricity.

--Lan Sluder
Belize First Magazine http://www.turq.com/belizefirst/

>> copyright 2000

Under US$200
* * * * Jaguar Paw. If your idea of roughing it at a jungle lodge includes air conditioning, ice-cold martinis and 24-hour electricity, Jaguar Paw may be your kind of place. A lot of lodges claim to offer adventure by day, luxury by night, but this is one that actually lives up to the luxury promise. Opened in 1996, the lodge has 16 rooms in four one-story units located to the back of the main building. Rather than the thatch-roof cabaña style that has become the de facto standard for lodges in Belize, the owners, ex-Floridians Cy and Donna Young, went with North American-style construction. Each room was decorated by Donna in a different theme: Wild West (complete with a John Wayne poster), Chinese, English Country Garden, and Africa are some of them. The furnishings are of high quality, the beds firm, the accessories and knickknacks of the type seldom found in hotels, for fear of theft by a souvenir-hunting guest. The centerpiece of the restaurant in the Maya temple-inspired main building is a high rock wall with water cascading down. There’s a colorful Maya-inspired mural, painted by Pamela Braun, on the 25-foot high walls of the room. Out back, next to an aviary, framed by luxuriant foliage, waits a beautiful swimming pool. The 24-hour air-conditioning at Jaguar Paw is provided by big, 100 kilowatt generators discreetly tucked away from the hotel. For the adventure part, the lodge specializes in tube floats down the Caves Branch river, which is next door to the lodge. On the trip you float through subterranean caves still filled with Maya pottery and other artifacts. There are some 9 miles of trails on the lodge’s 215 acres. Jaguar Paw, like a surprisingly large number of other hotels in Belize, is for sale, though that shouldn’t affect operations. Rates: US$170 double, Dec. 15-May 15, US$140 rest of year, plus tax and 10% service. Meals extra. AE, MC, V accepted with 3% surcharge. Tel. 501-8-23024, or in the U.S. 888-775-8645; e-mail cyoung@jaguarpaw.com; www.jaguarpaw.com. Directions: Turn south at Mile 37 of the Western Highway and follow the dirt path about 7 miles to the lodge.

Under US$125
* * * Pook’s Hill. How about a remote lodge in deep jungle, next to a river and on the site of a Maya plaza, run by an engaging couple where meals are by lantern-light and you’re totally isolated from the cares of civilization? That pretty much describes Pook’s Hill, a collection of thatched, Maya-style cabañas on 300 acres next to Tapir Mountain Reserve and the Roaring River. We like the rustic touches here, like hot water for showers from cohune-nut fires. Owners Ray and Vikki Snaddon, long-time Belize residents though they’re both from other outposts of the British commonwealth, have a green iguana raising project underway. There’s horseback riding (US$55 for a full day, including lunch) and tubing on the river (US$10 per person.) Rates US$118 double, with a 30% discount May to October. Meals are US$6 breakfast, $9 lunch and $16 dinner. MC, V accepted with 5% surcharge. P.O. Box 14, Belmopan; tel. 501-8-12017, fax 8-23361; e-mail pookshill@btl.net; www.pookshillbelize.com. Directions: Turn south off the Western Highway at Mile 52 1/2 at Teakettle village. Go about 4 miles, then turn right and go another 1 1/2 miles to the lodge (the route is well-signed.)

* * * * Banana Bank.
You’re guaranteed to see a jaguar at this lodge, because Tika has lived here since 1982. It’s okay -- the Belize government has granted permission for the lodge to have the jaguar. If you’re brave, you can step into the cage and get an up-close and personal picture of a jaguar. John Carr, who in his youth was a real Montana cowboy and rodeo star, with a partner bought Banana Bank, then a 4,000-acre ranch with 1,500 head of cattle, in 1973. At one time the ranch had been headquarters for Belize Estates, one of the large companies that in colonial days logged huge tracts of land granted them by the Crown. John Carr and his wife, Carolyn have lived on the ranch since 1977, one of a small group of pioneering American expats who adopted Belize as their home. Carolyn is a noted artist; her paintings of Belize street scenes and wild creatures (sometimes both in the same scene) have been widely exhibited, and she has a studio at the lodge. Our favorite is her painting titled “Jimmy Hines,” which shows the old market in Belize City where fishermen are cleaning lobster, snapper and jimmy hines, the local name for a type of sea bass or grouper. Anyway, back to the lodge. It’s a wonderful, family-oriented spot, a great place for kids. There are five cabañas, with bay leaf thatch, on a bank above the Belize River. The cabañas are spacious, with curving internal walls and -- something new -- 24-hour electricity. You can hear howler monkeys calling, and besides Tika on the grounds of the lodge are toucans, parrots and a spider monkey named Simon. At night you can use the Carrs’ 12” telescope to star watch under clear Central American skies. The food is filling and tasty, served family-style. Banana Bank is especially good for those who like to ride, as the lodge keeps about 50 horses. The horses are mixed breeds, mostly quarter horses. There’s a large stable, a round pen to hone your riding skills and a larger arena. Rates: US$89 to $119 double for a cabaña and US$59 for a lodge room. Rates include breakfast. Lunch is US$10 and dinner, US$15. The lodge also offers many packages, including tours, all meals and horseback riding. Transfers from Belize City are US$25 per person one-way. MC, V accepted. P.O. Box 48, Belmopan; tel. 501-8-12020, fax 8-12026; e-mail bbl@pobox.com; www.bananabank.com. Directions: Turn north off the Western Highway at Mile 47 on a dirt road. Follow signs to a landing on the Belize River. Ring the bell, and a caretaker will bring a hand-pulled boat over to pick you up. The lodge is up the hill.

Under US$100
* * * * Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch Adventure Camp.
Prepare to sweat. Set in a 58,000-acre chunk of private land on the Caves Branch river, this lodge is for travelers who like to do things outdoors. Ian Anderson, a Canadian, and his teams run fairly strenuous caving, hiking and river trips, and they do a top-flight job. They call them adventure trips, not sightseeing. Anderson says: “Of our guests 90% have never had either caving or jungle experience before coming to Caves Branch. We have taken children from the age of 6 to seniors at the age of 76 on many of these expeditions. Age is not necessarily a deciding factor. However, a degree of fitness and, most importantly, your sense of adventure is what will be the deciding factors.” In short, this is not a place for couch potatoes. More than a dozen adventure tours are offered, open to non-guests as well as guests. Each Caves Branch guide has been trained in first aid and in cave and wilderness rescue. The lodge has four types of accommodations: The four cabaña suites are the most upmarket, with a master bedroom with king-size bed, inside bathroom with hot and cold shower and toilet, wicker-furnished living room with pull out bed, at US$94 double. Six jungle cabañas are more basic, with outside washroom facilities, for US$58 double. The camp also has budget accommodations in a co-ed bunkhouse, for US$15 per person; camping is available for US$5 per person (camp cooking is not allowed.) Buffet meals are delicious and healthful, at US$12 for breakfast or lunch, US$17 for dinner. Caves Branch also has a variety of packages, including a one-week “Lost World” trip which takes you to some of Belize’s least visited caves, waterfalls and cenotes, for around US$1,500 a person. No credit cards. P.O. Box 356, Belmopan; tel./fax 501-8-22800, e-mail caves@pobox.com; www.cavesbranch.com. Directions: About 14 miles from Belmopan at Mile 41 1/2 of the Hummingbird Highway (mile markers on the Hummingbird run backwards, starting at Mile 55 at the Western Highway), turn left and follow a dirt track to the lodge grounds.

Under US$75
* * * Warrie Head Lodge. The theme here is “colonial history in a natural setting” from the white lodge building to the mahogany furnishings in the 10 guest rooms. On the grounds of this former logging camp are several historic relics, including a steam tractor, once used to drag logs to the nearby Belize river, a horse-drawn sugar mill and old chicle pots. Owned by John and Bia Searle and managed by “Miss Lydia,” Warrie Head still caters mostly to groups, but individual guests are welcome. Miss Lydia serves up tasty dinners. Rates are a good value at US$70 double in-season; from June 1-September 30, rates drop by US$5, and the seventh night is free with a week’s booking. AE, MC, V accepted. P.O. Box 244, Belize City; tel. 501-2-70755, fax 2-75213; e-mail: bzadventur@btl.net; www.warriehead.com. Directions: Turn north (watch for sign) at mile 54 1/2 of the Western Highway.
_________________________
Lan Sluder/Belize First
http://www.belizefirst.com

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#23749 - 08/07/00 04:41 AM Re: Going Inland
Karen Pasquariello Offline
I'll check with John about the a/c, I thought it was up and running. Jane, I'm glad you had the chance to experience those jungle sounds. I remember my first night, I couldn't sleep, the jungle came alive at night. Even though they have made alot of changes, it still has that same "at home" feeling, kind of quaint.
_________________________
Karen Pasquariello

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