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Black Hole Drop - Caves Branch #14922
05/21/02 12:46 PM
05/21/02 12:46 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 322
Portland, OR
IslandJunkie Offline OP
IslandJunkie  Offline OP
We first arrived in Belize on Friday, May 10. First stop – women’s bathroom to put on shorts. Then we took a taxi to the bus station, and caught the 4:00 bus to Caves Branch. This was quite an experience. We were relieved to know we had been assigned seats. Many were left standing. Turns out a lot of people, especially students, were traveling home for Mother’s Day, so the bus was VERY full. It wasn’t bad until it started pouring, and we had to push up the windows. It was pretty hot and steamy. Just what a girl needs after several hours of traveling! We stopped in Belmopan for a break, and hoped that the rest of the ride would be a little less crowded. Not so – it was even worse. When we finally got to Caves Branch and got our luggage out, we realized it had been stepped on, sat on and squished. It was a fun experience, and we met some great people, but note to self for next time: take a taxi. It’s worth the price!

We were mercifully picked up on the road by Abell and another Caves Branch employee, taken to the bunkhouse (only $15 per night), and then joined the rest of the guests for dinner. It reminded me of summer camp – for adults. It was so much fun being there with all the adventure-minded people that had come for some fun. We had a great dinner, got the intro (which made me question my decision to do the Black Hole Drop, but there’s no turning back now), and got settled in for the night. We enjoyed the jungle showers and staying in the bunkhouse. It was all so prettily landscaped and nicely tucked in the trees.

Saturday morning: those butterflies in the stomach have turned to ulcers. OK, well that’s an exaggeration. My biggest question at the moment is “will I even survive the hike up?” After reading Chanin’s report from a few weeks ago and getting the intro from Abell, I was wondering. We had a good breakfast, packed up, got the “drinking water is not an option” lecture from Ian (gotta love it), and headed out. One guide slipped in the first 15 feet. OK, I’m thinking…. I’M IN TROUBLE! But it wasn’t so bad. Much of the hike is seriously vertical, and not for the faint-hearted. However, I’m not exactly in good shape, and I made it. I have to say that the guides we had, especially Esperanza and Carlos, were incredibly patient and encouraging. Twice on the way up, I had to stop and catch my breath. Instead of pushing, Carlos picked a flower and brought it up to me and said to the others with us, “she’s just waiting for a flower.” There was never any pressure to hurry or do better. I did keep up for the most part, and it was such a sense of accomplishment when we reached the top.

At the top, when you look out over the sinkhole, you start to think again, “What am I doing here?” But I was in it for the long haul, for the sheer love of adventure and challenging myself to conquer my fears. I wasn’t going to give up now. Carlos and Esperanza led us through some safety info, including letting us know that the rope holds 9,000 pounds, and the webbing does, too, I think. We felt pretty comfortable with our gear by the time they were done. Then we got strapped in and had lunch. I could hardly eat, and the longer we stayed at the top, the more nervous I got. But, the adrenaline rush is half the fun!

When it was finally my turn to go, and I got hooked to the rope, I felt thoroughly comfortable. Esperanza walked me through the first few feet, and over the edge. It was not nearly as scary as I thought it would be. I felt the total control that I had over the rope, and how fast I would go. I enjoyed the ride down, and would do it again in a heartbeat. It was an amazing view, and just hanging up there above the treetops is so amazing. You can’t see anything or anyone – it’s just you and God and nature, and the rope. It’s an incredible feeling.

After everyone got down, we started the hike back up. Over many rocks, some precarious. The scariest part of the trip, aside from the anticipation, was climbing the aluminum extension ladder back up. Wow, I was shaking through that one. I can do heights, but ladders maybe not.

Once at the top, the last hour or so hike out was nice and leisurely. It was very slippery from having rained through the day, but mostly downhill. The muscles began to get sore, as much from adrenaline and tension as from the activity of the day, I’m sure.

We made it back to Ian’s where we had cold beer/water waiting for us. We took showers, had dinner, enjoyed a massage (thanks again, Kelly!), and shared our adventure stories with other guests who had done different adventures. It was a wonderful couple of days and when we had to leave on Sunday morning, we wished we had planned more time there. Oh well, there’s always next year, and more adventure awaits us in San Pedro.

Thanks so much to Ian, Esperanza, Carlos, Jesus, Morjelio, Abell, Pedro, Bernabe, Neal, Blanca, Kelly, and anyone else I’ve forgotten. You all run a class operation, and we’ll be back for sure!!!!!!!

Re: Black Hole Drop - Caves Branch #14923
05/21/02 09:02 PM
05/21/02 09:02 PM
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 6,251
NYgal Offline
NYgal  Offline
Great..........thanks for sharing.

Re: Black Hole Drop - Caves Branch #14924
05/24/02 01:54 PM
05/24/02 01:54 PM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 64,285
oregon, spr
Marty Offline

Marty  Offline
wow you articulated this so much better than i ever could. people ask me what its like, i'm gonna send them your note! thanks!

its a gas, huh?

Re: Black Hole Drop - Caves Branch #14925
05/24/02 03:18 PM
05/24/02 03:18 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 322
Portland, OR
IslandJunkie Offline OP
IslandJunkie  Offline OP
Yep - certainly a gas. Glad you liked the write up, even if it was a little long-winded! I was just showing my pics this morning to some friends here at work and some are getting vertigo just looking at the pictures! :-)

Re: Black Hole Drop - Caves Branch #14926
05/26/02 12:35 AM
05/26/02 12:35 AM
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 12
Newborn, GA,USA
Smiley Offline
Smiley  Offline
It was so great to read your write-up. We
are headed there in one month. So excited.
How was the food at Ian's place?
Good water?

Re: Black Hole Drop - Caves Branch #14927
05/27/02 01:50 PM
05/27/02 01:50 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 322
Portland, OR
IslandJunkie Offline OP
IslandJunkie  Offline OP
Ian's place has GREAT food - it's a little expensive, but worth the price. They have lots to choose from, I'm pretty sure you won't be disappointed. Plenty of purified water. Have a super time there! I'm sure you will!!!!


Re: Black Hole Drop - Caves Branch #14928
07/30/02 10:04 AM
07/30/02 10:04 AM
Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 10
New York, NY
Effie Offline
Effie  Offline
Hi IslandJunkie,

My boyfriend and I are spending 4 days at Caves Branch this month, and I was SO excited to read your report. I have two questions for you --

Hearing about your bus experience, I'm wondering if you got a sense of how much it would cost to take a taxi the whole way from the airport to Caves Branch. If it's not too expensive we might spring for the convenience...

Also, did you see the cabana suites at Caves Branch? We're wondering whether we should stick with the cheaper jungle cabana or go one step up to the cabana suites.

Thanks so much!

Re: Black Hole Drop - Caves Branch #14929
07/30/02 10:53 AM
07/30/02 10:53 AM
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 146
Philly, PA
aqtpie2 Offline
aqtpie2  Offline

I stayed at the Cabana suites at Caves Branch and another person in my group stayed in the regular cabanas. Difference is - has a slab floor and indoor plumbing. Up to you - I felt it was worth the upgrade - as I am prone to having to pee at night. This isn't to say there will not be any critters in your hut either - there were each night - so it didn't take away fom the experience.

The regular cabanas are nice too - screened in and built from wood, a little smaller. Ian said he was adding fans to the upgraded suites - I am not sure if that happened yet - as of last Nov, there weren't any - but it looked like they were working on it.

Have fun!

Re: Black Hole Drop - Caves Branch #14930
07/30/02 08:17 PM
07/30/02 08:17 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 322
Portland, OR
IslandJunkie Offline OP
IslandJunkie  Offline OP
How exciting, I'm SO jealous! I'd love to go back there soon, but it looks like it will be awhile.

Ian's place advertises the taxi (one way) I think for $120. I think we were offered at the airport for about $90 or so. If you can afford it, go for it. If not, here's what I suggest: Take a taxi to the bus station, about $18, if I remember right. Take the bus (for just $4-6?) to Belmopan. Then, GET OFF THE BUS. Take a taxi to Ian's, which is about 11 miles or so, and should cost you about $20-25, I'm guessing. That will cut your cost in half, be more trouble, but you get the experience of the bus ride without the long walk dragging your suitcase behind. We took a taxi back to Belize City from Ian's. It's much more comfortable, but if you're on a budget, just have someone at Ian's arrange a taxi back to Belmopan and take the bus from there.

About the Cabanas - I can't answer. We stayed in the bunkhouse, which is basically 4 bunkbeds. Got to meet some interesting people, but not much for privacy.

Have FUN, and be sure and do the BLACK HOLE!

[Linked Image]

Re: Black Hole Drop - Caves Branch #14931
08/01/02 09:57 PM
08/01/02 09:57 PM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 64,285
oregon, spr
Marty Offline

Marty  Offline
God i love Caves branch, aka Garden of Eden without the temptations....

big batch of pics coming soon of the grounds and caving with Abel, Carlos, Vita and the crew...

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