Mayan Magic… Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch Jungle Lodge, Belize
by Bill Milligan (special for Caribbean News Digital)
Perched on a mountain side overlooking the Caves Branch River in the heart of the Belizean jungle, lies Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch Jungle Lodge. Originally started by Ian many years ago with a few palapa huts, this now has grown to incorporate many new types of sleeping quarters, ranging in price and amenities, but primarily focusing on maintaining connection with the pristine natural environment. Whether one is staying in the finely appointed Jungle tree houses, set amongst the trees with raised bedrooms and accompanying trundle beds, or the Jungle suites, Bungalows, Cabanas, or Bunkrooms, all have screened in living areas and a proximity to the sounds of nature, and a price for all levels.
With this lush jungle setting as home base, exploration into the lost world of the Mayan people, their ceremonial sites, underworld cave systems, sacred cenotes (wells), waterfalls and rivers now becomes a Mayan enthusiast reality. Whether student, young, old, retired, out of shape or whatever, there is a wealth of fascinating things to do here, walking, canoeing, kayaking, ruins exploration, cave tubing, jungle safaris after dark, trekking with local bushmen and ultimately the most challenging, a 4-day/3 night hard-core “Jungle Survival” trek with only a machete and bushman guide.
Other expeditions include the “River of Caves” tubing, where one floats through 7 miles of underworld with only a headlamp, passing several million year old stalagmites and stalactites, entering the crystal cathedral, a spiritual centre to the Maya. Other caves have actual footprints dated to 400A.D. of shamans and priests, along with ancient ceremonial centers, pottery, artifacts and altars. Xibalba, believed to be the entrance to the underworld, one walks the footsteps of ancient shamans, viewing ash, relics, wall carvings, glyph writings and skeletons of sacrificed victims. Kayak through one of the best rivers in the country, the Sibun, enjoying the wildlife, bird watching, fauna and flora over a one or two day/overnight trip.
All of Ian Andersons guides have been handpicked and received extensive training in cave and wilderness rescue/wilderness first aid and are founding members of the “Belize Cave and Wilderness Rescue Team, “recognized by the United States FEMA organization. Our adventures with Cave Tubing and the Black Hole Drop were made much easier with the professionalism and dedication of the well trained guides.
Want some diversity in your life? Belize has it in spades, whether geography, archaeology, culture, people, or the iconoclastic Ian Anderson and his Jungle Lodge, with his amazing expeditions back into ancient Mayan times, giving one a rare view of a lost culture, of which the etiology still remains obscure. Not only has Ian become a true asset for Belize in many ways but his contribution to exploring, professional tourism and training of the local people raises the bar for his peers.
All rights reserved © Caribbean News Digital