Ian Anderson fell in love with Belize 25 years ago when he arrived in the country from Canada as one of the opening managers of the Ramada hotel (now the Princess hotel) in Belize City. Basking in the beauty of the pristine nature of western Belize, he inadvertently created one of the most iconic Belize experiences when he decided to float down a subterranean river using a simple inner tube.
Ian soon found himself spending all of his free time in the jungle. At a time when few outsiders had ever heard of Belize, Ian was a true explorer, floating down jungle rivers, hiking through the rainforest, meeting friendly locals, discovering caves, and falling in love with the diversity and beauty of the plants and animals. On his treks, Ian made connections and with these incredibly knowledgeable and equally adventurous friends who shared with him some of their secret knowledge about the jungle. In the style reminiscent of Indiana Jones, Ian ventured into the area that later became the Caves Branch Lodge an area that for many years remained isolated and cut off to basic communication.
Instead of returning home when the hotel job was finished, Ian felt that he wanted to remain permanently in Belize. Obtaining the use of a small tract of land in the foothills of the Maya Mountains in Belize’s Cayo District, the original Caves Branch Lodge was little more than a flat piece of land on the riverbank that Ian and his friends used as a base camp for their expeditions into the surrounding jungle. With no expectation of creating a business, Ian soon found that more and more people were interested in visiting the area and participating in adventures in nature, eventually realizing that he had a hot idea on his hands. Today, the Caves Branch Lodge is a five-star adventure lodge-featuring style rustic jungle accommodations and luxury tree houses. Through the now 25 years from its inception, Caves Branch Lodge continues to introduce visitors to the wonders and beauty of nature in Belize and has been recognized as one of the Top 10 Adventure Lodges in the World and a Top 100 Exotic Destination.
Ian Anderson and his wife Ella are now permanent residents of Belize. Over the past two decades, they have consistently promulgated their belief in a fair and just society for everyone. The Andersons have quietly worked with disadvantaged children, the poor, homeless, and senior citizens- in order to help them develop into productive and happy members of society. The “cave tubing” sport that Ian invented involves a number of risks, and Ian was the first person to develop comprehensive safety plans that have since allowed tens of thousands of visitors to enjoy this uniquely Belizean adventure experience while providing a safe atmosphere for all. Caves Branch has been a leader in the area of safety for many years and maintains a strong team of over 18 tour guides- all highly certified and trained to US rescue standards that are recognized by the British & US military, medical institutions and international rescue organizations.
Since founding the Caves Branch Lodge more than two decades ago, Ian creativity has led to popularizing what are now some of the most famous attractions in the country, starting with becoming the 1st person to introduce “cave tubing” to the world of tourism in Belize and also the sport of “caving” for which he was awarded in 2015 for his contributions to the industry. Among his unique and thrilling adventures include Central America’s longest and most exciting cave tubing adventure- the 7 mile River of Caves, the Actun Loch Tunich (Mother of All Caves) otherwise known as the Black Hole Drop and the utterly mind-blowing Waterfall Cave Expedition. In addition to maintaining the largest Orchid collection in the country and collaborating in scientific research to encourage conservation awareness, it’s easy to see why Ian is celebrated as an icon of philanthropy, eco-tourism, and responsible business practices in Belize.