Jungle Lodges North of Belmopan
Banana Bank Lodge
When they first arrived in Belize more than 30 years ago, Montana cowboy John Carr and his wife, Carolyn, ran Banana Bank Lodge and Jungle Equestrian Adventure (tel. 501/820-2020, www.bananabank.com, US$77–175) as a working cattle ranch. Today, most of the pastures have been converted to fields for growing corn and beans (or allowed to turn back to jungle), and the ranch now hosts their lodge.
Half of the 4,000-acre ranch is covered in jungle, and within its borders guests will discover not only a wide variety of wildlife but a small Maya ruin.
Rooms, suites, cabanas, and chalets are fanciful—no two are alike—and most have beautifully funky bathtubs. The food is served family style. Five cabanas each sleep up to six people, and there are five rooms in the main house, three with shared bathroom, to accommodate guests. Breakfast is included in the room rate. Lunch is US$10, dinner US$15.
With 150 saddle horses in its stables and 25 miles of horse trails, Banana Bank features horseback riding but is also a place to bird-watch, fish, hike, or take a boat trip down the Belize River, with plenty of time left for a cooling swim in the river or pool.
Carolyn is considered one of the country’s premier artists, and if you admire her on-site studio and gallery, be sure to seek out her paintings in the House of Culture in Belize City.
Banana Bank is across the Belize River, about 10–15 minutes by car from the (turn in Roaring Creek, next to the big gas station and hotel on the right).
Belize Jungle Dome Hotel Resort
Next door to Banana Bank Lodge, the Belize Jungle Dome Hotel Resort (tel. 501/822-2124, www.belizejungledome.com, US$105–200) has five rooms in a unique geodesic dome setting; it’s just across the Belize River from Belmopan, but it feels very remote. The rooms are fully equipped with queen beds, air-conditioning, private baths, and wireless Internet; there is a lovely pool and a separate four-bedroom villa.
The Jungle Dome serves three meals and caters to all dietary requirements. The resort is a licensed tour operator and runs a full range of tours, as well as airport transfers.
© Joshua Berman and Avalon Travel from Moon Belize, 9th Edition