|waiting for our car rental to arrive|
|Views along the Hummingbird Highway|
When Eric and I traveled in Belize back in '94-'95 we spent a few months at Caves Branch Jungle Lodge... it was just starting up and they were doing tours to caves and river tubing (the originals... now there are several operators doing caving and tubing trips) and we ended up helping out with running the rustic jungle lodge for 4 months. Eric had been back a few years after that but really we haven't had contact with Ian or the place for about 18 years! So, on our road trip we thought we'd definitely stop in and say hello to Ian and check out the old place. I had looked at Ian Anderson's Cave Branch Jungle lodge website before hand and it is now a 5 star lodge with prices that are way, way, way beyond our budget. I had thought it might be neat to stay there and do a trip, but... our budget wouldn't allow it... so... we just wanted to visit Ian and see the place... and maybe catch up Amanda who used to work with us.
Well, we did pop in (after a lovely drive along the Hummingbird highway... it's really pretty) and Ian was there and he remembered us and we got a most warm welcome! To our great surprise Amanda was there too! It was so great to see her... we weren't sure if she would remember us but she did (When we were working together, Amanda would give us blow by blow account of the OJ Simpson trail since we didn't have electricity at the camp and had no outside news of the world - such as it was). After our reunion Ian insisted we stay as his guest and he offered us one the Tree House units... which was just amazing! The whole place was even more amazing in person than on the website! It had really gone through an amazing transformation over the last 18 years (how many times can I saw amazing... sorry it's just the word that comes to mind!). When we were there years ago, there was no running water - we had to collect water from a running spring, no electricity - we used kerosene for lighting, no plumbing - outhouses only and we washed up in the river. Now it is an spectacular 5 star place with luxury units, swimming pool and fully stocked industrial kitchen (back then we had just a little galley kitchen with one small propane fridge and stove) with a staff compliment of 72! The trips... have remained the same... still full of action/adventure... though Ian now has his full array of guides (Ian used to do the tours and Eric actually led a tour or two back then too, when things got tight). So... we took Ian up on his generous offer and stayed 4 nights.
|Path to the Tree House.. a several flights up! |
(definitely toned the thighs a bit on that!)
|Absolutely stately view |
(all screened in for surround sound jungle)
|View from the upper deck!|
At night with the moon and sounds of the jungle... magical!
|The BEST feature.. |
an outdoor shower with an incredible view!
There was also an indoor shower the size of the kids' bedroom back home!
|lower deck... with early morning coffee delivery!|
|Three level pool with hot tub...|
the building in the back is the dining area.
|The Caves Branch River (where we used to take our baths!)...|
still looked the same.
We spent 4 incredible day reminiscing, getting caught up with Ian, doing a caving/river tour (Sean blogged about that amazing trip - with a bit of creative license) and taking in Ian's incredible hospitality - full buffet meals, coffee delivered to our tree house each morning, amazing pool to dip in at the end of the day, sounds of the jungle at dawn and dusk... just magical.
|The Maya thought caves were entrances|
to the underworld they called Xilbalba and
ceremonies and offerings were made in them by the spiritual leaders.
|entrance and exit to the Footprint Cave |
(there is a footprint that has crystals formed over it... so a footprint well over 1000 years old!
|climbing down from the chamber where an ancient Mayan pot was found|
|Not a ceremonial pot...|
as those they would smash to make sure the spirits left the cave
|Mayan carving right from a stalagmite|
|orange grove... with limestone cliffs in the background.|
We had a few amazing sunsets over the jungle and a few clear nights with stars and bright moon.
to be continued....