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BELIZE: The Less-Traveled Corners

19 August 2009 No Comment
By Rod Lopez-Fabrega

The Lodge at Chaa Creek:

In the interior highlands of western Belize, near the border to Guatemala is the city of San Ignacio, reachable in about two hours on an excellent highway from Belize City. The Lodge at Chaa Creek Adventure Center, Rainforest Reserve and Spa, an internationally recognized eco-lodge, is located a short drive away from San Ignacio.Situated on the banks of the Macal River, this luxurious lodge offers 23 rooms in individual cottages and duplex cottages, each with its private veranda or screened lanai. Interiors are elegantly furnished with museum-quality artifacts from Guatemala and Belize, large mahogany beds, original artwork, private bathrooms with hot showers and five-star amenities. Paved pathways interconnect the cottages with a handsome conference center, a new hilltop spa, the reception building, the bar with its spacious veranda overlooking the rainforest and outbuildings that include a fascinating butterfly farm where thousands of Blue Morpho butterflies are hatched.Not least is the dining pavilion, serving a mixture of Caribbean, Mexican and Belizean dishes and equipped with its own temperature-controlled wine cellar. The open-sided dining pavilion juts out into the forest with views of tropical foliage only partially screened by more intricately detailed artifacts–primitive angels, devils, fanciful animals and fine ceramics.

While this resort is a bit pricey, it offers an interesting option for the traveler on a budget. A riverside trail from the main grounds leads to a campground within the Chaa Creek Nature Reserve. The campground provides screened, canvas-roofed cottages, communal hot-water shower stalls and a thatched-roof casa with tables and benches for socializing and home-style Belizean stick-to-the-ribs food. The price for these accommodations if very moderate.

Many tours and activities are offered. These include a day trip across the nearby border into Guatemala on a much improved highway to visit the ancient Maya metropolis of Tikal. Even closer to Chaa Creek is the site of Xunantunich, one of the most impressive Mayan citadels in Belize. Getting there includes crossing a river on a unique hand-operated car ferry, with you and your car literally pulled to the other side by a lone boatman working a crank and pulley. Other possibilities for entertainment include horseback riding, hiking and canoeing on the Macal River.



Mirroring the observations of Steve Schulte, Lucy Fleming, co-founder and proprietor of Chaa Creek along with husband Mick, says, “Belize has successfully branded as a nature-based, multi-cultural country that speaks English and has something for those people interested in nature-based activities. That is why we appeal to the kinds of people who come here for completely different reasons than others head for Cancun.” She agrees with Mr. Schulte that “Belize is the next great place.”

Read more at http://www.romartraveler.com/ROMAR07/Romar07Pages/CAmericaAndIslands/BelizeLessTraveled.html 



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