I am always touting the biodiversity of itty bitty Belize, a country basically the same size as New Jersey, that is comprised of cayes, coastal cliffs, beaches, and littoral forest but also deep jungle, limestone karsts, pine forests, savannahs- oh my! I love my home in the beach resort town of Placencia, but I also love that I can take a quick and beautiful (see this post on the spectacularly scenic Hummingbird Highway) 2-hour drive inland and be surrounded by thick, mountainous jungle. That is precisely what we did last week for a wonderful overnight at Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch Jungle Lodge.
Strategically located for adventure
Caves Branch is easy to reach, directly on the Hummingbird Highway across from St Herman’s Blue Hole and Cave National Park. It is a massive property (I think the hostess said it was 58,000 acres when she was showing us to our rooms) and the base camp for so many incredible, only-in-Belize, adventures. Caves Branch is the pioneer of cave tubing in Belize and they have exclusive excursions you can’t do anywhere else like the Black Hole Drop (which I wrote about here, a batsh!t crazy rappel).
This was my first time overnighting at the property and I can’t wait to return and check out the other accommodations. We stayed in the jungle suites which were SO comfortable and cute. They’re really open and airy but you’re fully screened to provide a layer of protection between you and the very natural world just outside. (we traveled with my friend who is very fearful of snakes and spiders and basically all jungle-dwelling creatures… she didn’t sleep well due to pure nervousness) Bunk beds for the kids- Mitch was SO excited about this. And each suite had an original mural on the wall- gorgeous!
Our group enjoyed swimming in the pool and the river. We rolled over the rocks down stream a ways spying on the treehouses tucked up in the trees along the bank then crawled our way back up current like spawning salmon. What a workout! Afterwards we took a dip in the hot tub- a real rarity in Belize- which felt pretty good for about two minutes. I could probably be quite happy soaking longer in say December or January when the weather isn’t so steamy.
After a shower in either your inside or outside shower (I used both at our suite, why not?!), get dressed for dinner and head up to the lodge. Typically, dinner is a family-style affair, a buffet and blended seating but current Covid protocols have swapped things over to private, sit-down meals but the food is still farm fresh and wonderful. Well priced drinks helped take the edge off my friend’s fear of creepy crawlies.
Exclusive on-site experiences
In the morning we spent some time wandering the extensive and impressive botanical garden. They have ALL the epiphytes here! We love air plants; remember my post about thieving flowers with friends? Caves Branch’s garden has every dang orchid that could possibly be found in Belize- I have serious garden envy.
I could have spent hours wandering the garden and reading the informational placards but we had an appointment for a cheese making lesson and tasting. Yes! Caves Branch has an onsite cheese house. They source fresh raw milk from local Mennonite communities to make half a dozen varieties of cheese. We listened to a quick lecture on the long and laborious cheese making process, given by the head maker, while we sampled all the delicious types. I loved them all except the feta which to me tasted way too natural… like I could still taste muddy cow udder in it. Perhaps I’ve become too accustomed to over-processed commercially produced cheese but this feta was not for me! Give me the provolone all day though, please and thank you.
Garden tours and cheese tastings are complimentary to overnight guests (and I highly recommend an overnight or two out here- what a property!) but can be arranged for passersby with a bit of advanced notice. Caves Branch often run great specials so check their website (www.cavesbranch.com) and follow them on Facebook (Caves Branch) to snag deals; at the moment they’re offering 20% off to fully vaccinated guests.