The Lodge At Chaa Creek
PO Box 53, San Ignacio, Cayo, Belize
Macal River Camp - a budget alternative
I rarely write tips about accommodation in which I haven’t personally stayed, but this seems such a good deal that I had to share it with you. The owners of Chaa Creek Lodge also operate this budget accommodation on the same property. Despite its name it isn’t a campsite but rather a collection of raised platform "casitas” with a porch, and 2 or 4 beds. There are shared bathrooms with hot water showers, and guests have access to all the same free activities as at the Lodge (see my other tips for more details of these). The price is just $55 per person per night including breakfast and dinner, with traditional Belizean meals served in a communal dining area. It is located on the banks of the Macal River and is walking distance from the Lodge though you’ll need a torch if planning to visit at night for an evening activity or perhaps to splurge in the Lodge’s restaurant. There is no electricity in the camp, but bed linen and towels are provided. The grounds have hammocks and there is a campfire at night. It looks a great option at a fraction of the price of the main Lodge, and gets good reviews on Trip Advisor.
Directions: Take the Benque Viejo road out of San Ignacio and follow the signs to Chaa Creek
US toll free tel: 1(877) 709-8708 or UK local tel: 0-207 096-0329
A special place to stay
We knew as soon as we arrived at Chaa Creek that this would be a rather special place to stay, and so it proved to be. Accommodation here is in cottages scattered across a grassy slope. We had one of the standard cottages, the least expensive of the options but still very large and luxurious. We had a sitting area with tea and coffee making facilities and a safe in the cupboard there. A few steps led up to the sleeping area, with its huge king-size bed. Beyond the seating area was the bathroom, again on a large scale, with two wash basins and a huge walk-in shower with two shower heads for “his and hers” showers! As if this wasn’t enough, the small paved courtyard which linked this and the sleeping area had its own shower and was secluded enough for private morning ablutions! Despite the poor weather I was determined to try this out so showered there one morning ;-) Outside we had a deck area with hooks for the two colourful hammocks that were provided in the room, and views across the valley – I managed to get a great shot of a keel-billed toucan from here. My only tiny quibble with the property however was the fact that this veranda wasn’t covered by the thatch roof, so it was impossible to sit out here when it was raining as I would have liked.
The other more expensive options include Treetop Suites, which we visited briefly one day at the invitation of some other guests. These have wonderful views of, as the name suggests, the trees lining the Macal River, where parrots and iguanas can often be seen. They also have an open-air Jacuzzi on the veranda!
The communal areas are equally lovely. A small bar has seating both under its thatch roof and outside, and is lit with flaming torches at night. The nearby restaurant is open at the sides, as is the bar, and has just the right amount of seating for the lodge’s guests. Further up the slope is a beautiful infinity pool with a waterfall and views across the grounds – luckily the weather improved enough on our last day for me to take advantage of this. There is also a small but well-stocked shop selling high-quality local crafts as well as practical items such as batteries and razors.
A large conference centre above the pool has comfortable seating, games for a rainy day, and a couple of computers with free internet access. There is also free wifi in this vicinity although it can’t be accessed from other parts of the property – rather nice if you want to avoid being bombarded with emails at all hours but would like to check in occasionally.
Unique Quality: As it stands this place is pretty unique throughout, but a bonus is the inclusion of a number of activities in the cost of your stay. These include an early morning birding walk, a visit to the on-site nature centre and butterfly farm, use of canoes on the river and a guided tour of the Medicine Trail. We only got around to doing the birding walk and the visit to the butterfly farm and nature centre, partly because of the weather and partly because we found just chilling for a few days to be such a pleasant activity in itself! There are many other tours available at prices that range from a few dollars (e.g. for a night walk) to considerably more (tours of other parts of Belize and to Tikal, for instance). Check the website below for more information, or see my Things to Do tips
The lodge is run by a friendly English couple, Mike and Lucy. It’s interesting to spend some time reading about its history in the brochure in your room, as it truly has been a labour of love for them – or check out the history page of the website. And do look out for Foxy, their cute little dog! [see photo 4]
Directions: Take the Benque Viejo road out of San Ignacio and follow the signs to Chaa Creek.
US toll free tel: 1(877) 709-8708 or UK local tel: 0-207 096-0329
Chaa Creek is one great adventure!
This was also my first time to Belize. I traveled together with my wife and stayed at the lodge at Chaa Creek for an all-inclusive vacation. We both liked this adventure very much, especially we were amazed by the customized tours these guys offer. The prices are not that high, for example the prices for the inclusive package can be found on their website: http://www.chaacreek.com/rates/prices/adventure/
I would strongly suggest that you take a look at this place if you are looking for one big adventurous trip.
Macal River Camp at Chaa Creek - Excellent!
This was our first visit to Belize. We wanted an adventurous trip and we were more than willing to stay in a "rustic" setting. We did not want the air conditioned comfort of the Lodge. Instead we opted for The Macal River Camp, part of the Chaa Creek resort and it was perfect. The accomodations brought the jungle indoors. We were comfortable, safe and very satisfied with our decision. The staff at the Camp were gentle, polite, thoughtful and very pleasant. The Howler monkeys were a bit noisy but they only added to the wonder of this place. Our meals were delicious and the staff were universally helpful with all of our needs. This is not luxury accomodation but it you want to feel that you have gotten close to your environment, this is the place. The setting, the casitas, the food, the unique experience - all were terrific. We cannot say enough good things about this wonderful camp and its staff. It exceeded our expectations and was excellent value. We would go back at the drop of hat.
More about The Lodge At Chaa Creek
Chan Chich Lodge,
Chan Chich Lodge,
Chaa Creek Cottages,(the Jacuzzi suite is pictured at left),
Jaguar Reef Lodge Chan Chich is a small group of luxury cottages set within an undisturbed Mayan ruins site.
Chaa Creek is also a group of equally luxurious cottages (my favorite is the Jacuzzi Suite)
Victoria House is set among palm trees right on the beach on the island of Ambergris Caye.
Jaguar Reef Lodge is a remote luxury group of cottages set on the beach of mainland Belize
Chaa Creek Massage
Again, we didn't stay here. But, we did come for lunch and a massage. The place was the prettiest place we saw in the mainland. We didn't stay here because at the time of our visit there were problems with robbers and rapist from Guatamala and Chaa Creek is right near the border. When we visited it was pretty much empty....walked right into the spa and got appointments. The spa was beautiful and the treatments were spectacular. My husband got the best massage of his life and I got the best facial of my life. It was inside but the windows were wide open and we could hear the heavy rainfall against the mountains outside. It was soooo relaxing. The lunch was yummy, only we sat outside and had to fight off the black flies the whole time.
Roughing it in the Jungle
If you want to stay in the Resort book well in advance. By the time we booked the vacation all of the cottages were booked so we were banished to the campground. It worked out well. The campground is located below the cottages and offer little wooden tent houses and have a communal bathroom. It was rustic and exciting to sleep in the jungle at night and much less expensive than the cottages. You have the option to eat in the campground or go up to the main lodge for dinner. We did both and had amazing meals. The tortillas were to die for. Walking back through the jungle at night can be an unnerving experience.....listening to the monkeys and the hiss of snakes hanging from the trees. Later on evening after I refused to go to the communal bathroom we heard a scream and found out that there were several posionous asps (snakes) found lurking in the toilet. Needless to say I didn't use that bathroom again. Either roughing it or staying in the posh cottages would be a great adventure. I would highly suggest the place. the campground is appx $50 a night. Chaa Creek Cottage
Chaa Creek is one of Belize's premier jungle resorts, combining jungle adventures with an internationally acclaimed spa offering tropical body wraps and scrubs, hydrotherapy massage, aromatherapy, massage therapy and hydrating, firming and purifying facials.
(Readers of Caribbean Travel & Life Magazine recently voted The Lodge at Chaa Creek as the 2004 Caribbean's Best Eco Resort.)
Chaa Creek activities include the on-premises Natural History Centre, Panti Trail (Mayan jungle remedies), Blue Morpho Tropical Butterfly Farm and an authentic Mayan village. Off-premises activities include Macal River canoeing, tours of Xunantunich, Cahal Pech and Tikal Mayan ruins, jungle horseback riding and cave tubing.
Blue Morpho Butterfly
Tree Top Suite
Lodging at Chaa Creek includes thatched cottages, a jungle camp with fully screened casitas, and Chaa Creek's new Tree Top Suites, literally located in the tops of the trees overlooking the Macal River.
Lodging, meals and activities can either be purchased a la carte or as part of expedition or spa packages.
The big treat for our honeymoon. My wife said it was the highlight of the whole trip and she was in heaven for two days. The Spa experience at its best but you can also do just about anything from the lodge. They will arrange whatever activities you want to try from the most laid back to the most extreme.
Loved Chaa Creek
My wife and I were at Chaa Creek, last week and we simply loved every moment of our stay. We stayed in a TreeTop Jacuzzi suite #10. The intial welcome and the flowers decorating the bed, the sinks, and shower in heart shapes. Blew us away. (We were on our honeymoon)
Further the excellent service, warm and freindly people added to the charm and natural beauty of the lodge.
Overall the lodge and the staff exceeded our expectaions.
Its was a wonderful experience. The love and dedication invested over the decades behind the development of this resort, shines right through. Definetly recommended
Chaa Creek is absolutely wonderful
We stayed at Chaa Creek for a few days the third week of February with our two kids- 9 & 13. This place was wonderful- we had a standard cottage as the Treetop suites did not have 4 beds. Ours was number 14 with a beautiful outdoor shower- the "room" was huge and perfectly fine for us. I really liked the no locks policy (with a safe in the room)- we felt completely secure at all times.
The food was good to very good- excellent, friendly service. Early morning coffee was brought to the room-no charge. The bar was excellent, although pricey- great wine, they have a decent cellar with the reds served at 55 degrees- very unusual and welcome in the jungle. There is even an original, historic Mayan wine cave very close to the bar!
We booked an amazing private tour to the ATM cave (its really tough- be warned!) through Chaa Creek and they came through with an excellent tour company. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience. Read up on it.
The kids loved the free, morning bird watching each day, horse-riding, canoeing & Xuanantunich, which we did on our way to Chaa Creek for around $50 extra with an excellent guide who was also our driver.
One of the most important thing for me was happy employees all of whom loved the owners and really felt part of the Chaa Creek family.
In sum, strongly recommended.
At dinner, Chaa Creek
Chris in the restaurant, Chaa Creek
Travellers' Palm, Chaa Creek grounds
Keel-billed toucan, Chaa Creek grounds
Chaa Creek and Robert's Grove
We will be visiting Chaa Creek in the jungle area and Robert's Grove in Placencia over Christmas and New Years - has anyone been there? Any advice? I looked at the weather forecast and it looks like it rains all the time - can that be?
Re: Chaa Creek and Robert's Grove
You know, it's funny because before we went in May this year, I checked weather.com and they said it was raining every day too, and I was very worried! But when we got there, it rained only once and that was at night, and only for a short while. I think the online weather services assume that it's going to rain somewhere at some point nearly every day in Belize, which is probably true, but it probably won't rain every day on you. Have a great time!
Re: Re: Chaa Creek and Robert's Grove
We visited in Feb which is the dry season - I've been to Cozumel in December - the reef of Belize extends up the coast of Mexico. We did have rain but it was usually at night or before we got up in the morning. Or there would be a brief shower during the day. It is warm and doesn't really cause a problem.
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The Lodge At Chaa Creek
We've found that other people looking for this hotel also know it by these names:
- Hotel At Chaa Creek
- The Lodge At Chaa Creek Hotel San Ignacio
Address: PO Box 53, San Ignacio, Cayo, Belize