Below is what I say about Chan Chich in the new Belize First Guide to Mainland Belize. I've stayed there three times and think it's great. Try to get one of the cottages away from the kitchen and bar area, as they are quieter and more private.
The other five-star jungles in Belize, in our opinion, besides Chan Chich are Chaa Creek, Blancaneaux and Ek 'Tun.
Belize First Magazine http://www.turq.com/belizefirst/
* * * * Chan Chich Lodge Very simply, this is one of the classic jungle lodges of the world. It’s owned by Barry Bowen, a fifth-generation Belizean who also has the Coco-Cola bottling franchise in Belize and who brews Belikin beer. The trip here by car from Orange Walk Town is an incredible experience. The drive takes you through deep bush, and around every curve you might encounter anything but another vehicle -- a deer, quash, a snake sliding across the road, one of Belize’s cats, a flock of oscellated turkeys, a dense shower of butterflies. Closer to the lodge, you’ll spy the neatly fenced fields of Bowen’s 2,500-acre Gallon Jug farm, which raises cattle, corn, soybeans, cacao, cardamon and coffee. Gallon Jug is the only place in Belize that produces coffee in any commercial amount. The lodge, across a suspension bridge at the end of a short paved road, enjoys an astounding setting. It was built literally on top of a Maya plaza. Around the lodge are tall, unexcavated mounds. There are 12 thatch-roof cabañas, each with two queen beds, 24-hour electricity, bath with hot and cold water shower, and a wrap-around veranda. The cabins fartherest from the restaurant kitchen and on the edge of the lodge grounds, such as # 2 and 9, are most desirable. We have had some complaints about units close to the kitchen -- #s 11 and 12. Americans Tom and Josie Harding supervised the construction of the lodge and stayed on as managers. Meals are served in a large thatch cabaña, which also houses a gift shop, and the bar is next door -- guests congregate there for a social hour before dinner, with Norm Harding telling jokes and pouring. A beautiful pool, located at the edge of the jungle and screened to keep out bugs, opened in 1998.
Around the lodge grounds is a maze of cut and raked trails, ideal for wildlife spotting and birding. You can enjoy the jungle setting without having to wrestle snakes and briars. Will you see a jaguar? There’s a better chance here than at most other places in Belize. The lodge has been averaging about one jaguar sighting a week. Even if you don’t see the elusive big cat, you’ll definitely see plenty of other wildlife including howler monkeys, whether you walk the trails on your own or go on one of the nature tours offered by the lodge. Guides at Chan Chich are extraordinarily knowledgeable, and you should take at least one guided nature tour while at the lodge (US$12 an hour for up to four people). Birding is excellent here, with more than 300 species identified; often 40% or more of guests are birders. Canoeing, horseback riding, birdwatching and nature tours, and trips to Maya sites are available.
Rates: Doubles, room only, are US$145 Nov. 1-Apr. 30, US$110 the rest of the year. Meal packages are US$40 adults, US$30 for children under 12. The lodge offers an all-inclusive package (room, meals, taxes, most tours and activities, Belikin beer and softdrinks) for US$350 double in-season and US$300 off-season. AE, MC, V accepted with no surcharge. P.O. Box 37, Belize City; tel. and fax 501-2-34419; or P.O. Box 1088, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568, tel. 800-343-8009, fax 508-693-6311, e-mail [email protected]