For ease and lack of time, my friends and I settled on Caves Branch – nine days in the jungle!!
Many families and couples that we spoke to at the lodge told us that they had split their time between the jungle and the beach during their time in Belize. I planned this trip in the middle of working the Sundance Film Festival and didn’t think that far ahead. I even had to Skype with Runa in London during our taping of the Daily Buzz to grab her credit card info.
Needless to say, we didn’t regret one moment of our trip. Although next time, beach time would have to be a definite agenda item.
Anyway, on the day that Alex left for home (so he could get back to school), Runa and I stayed on campus.
After breakfast, we scheduled a botanical garden tour with the owner’s wife, Ella. In the meantime, we hung out at the river that was maybe a 2 minute walk from the pool.
When Alex and I arrived at Caves Branch, we were told the river was preferred over the pool due to the cooler temperatures. But, I’ll tell you, I hardly saw anyone swimming in the river except for a few young children splashing around that were definitely not locals.
I totally splashed around too.
After a while, we went back to the room to change into pool gear. We still had some time before our tour.
We stayed at the least expensive accommodations possible – the jungle cabana.
I’ll warn you and say it’s VERY dark inside. Even in the brightest daylight, we usually used headlamps to find stuff in our luggage.
It’s a very simple thatched cabin with a double bed and a bunk bed, screened windows, filtered water jug with spout, oil lanterns, high-powered fan, and bathroom.
The bathroom is also the only source of electrical light in the entire cabana.
One bright, shining light from above the mirror over the sink. Reading reviews from TripAdvisor, I came prepared with a socket to outlet adapter. A simple tool that only cost a few bucks gave us the option to recharge our electronics in the room instead of at the main house. Sometimes, because the entire lodge is powered by a generator, we had lapses in our electricity.
There’s was a nice hammock outside that we never used, mostly from mosquitoes and having too much fun. And also, there was another unit attached to the back of us – another cabana.
Showers were outdoors and for communal use.
Each thatched hut had a primitive wire on the door to “lock” up for privacy. Some doors took a bit more oomph to close than others.
Each shower had a small bench and shelf to set stuff down on.
And the shower was powered by water that was piped in and dropped into hole-filled buckets to spray down. Again, all natural light here….
After our time at the pool, we joined up for our botanical garden tour. Ella, our guide, was extremely proud of her garden. She was a well of information and spoke about everything with such enthusiasm, you knew she loved taking care of her orchids and plants.
There were lots of these torch gingers all over Belize.
As we learned from Ella, that bright red part of the plant, was not actually the flower. I remembered that… but I can’t really remember what part was the flower. Errr… yeah.
We saw these noni plants that I had never noticed before. You know – that healthy craze where MLM’s have started selling noni juice? There’s actually a place in Utah that sells it….
Along our tour, we picked up a couple of Canadians that had just spent a few days on the beach – diving and snorkeling. Ella grabbed them and immersed them into our tour.
Shortly after Alix and Jeff, the Canadians, joined us, we ate this plant. It was sort of like a less chewy, lemon-flavored celery with a bit of a sour taste. I liked it.
Everywhere, Ella pointed out the different orchids around campus. Amazing! There are actually several hundred species found in Belize and if I remember correctly, I believe Caves Branch had most of them.
There was also some baby pineapple.
This tiny pineapple started from the head of an adult pineapple – aw, so cute.
This one smelled like vanilla… at least, I think it was this one.
Orchids growing on logs.
A piper plant – chili!
And there was also a mimosa plant… also known as a sensitive plant. When you touch it, it shrinks….
Vanilla bean…. super hard to grow.
Ella grabbed a small Tupperware of sugar and vanilla that was harvested from before to let us get a whiff….
After our garden tour, we met Chef Jay and asked for a cheese tour. Caves Branch makes their own cheese – if you ever get a chance at dinner to have cheesecake, you must eat it.
In a nice cooled walk-in refrigerator were all the different cheeses that Caves Branch made.
I want to say it was seven different kinds of cheeses? Five hard cheeses? I really can’t recall so don’t quote me. Bleu cheese, parmesan, spressa, feta and… some others.
If you ever get to Caves Branch during their cheese tasting offers, you get to sample them here in this fancy board-room looking place.
Clarabelle, the cheese-master, let us sample a couple cheeses though. It didn’t hurt that Chef Jay was with us and never objected to tasting, either.
Clarabella had two other gals that helped her with cheeses when it got busy. However, most of the time, these gals made soap. We went over to see them.
These soaps were also featured in our rooms.
They were made of glycerin (apparently from the US).
At that…. our tours ended. You know how I love factory tours… it was a great time. Back to the pool and bar we went!