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A Natural Indulgence – Chaa Creek

23 December 2009 No Comment
A Natural Indulgence – Chaa Creek
Text by Kevin Tsai • Photos provided by Chaa Creek Lodge • 23 Dec 2009
Chaa Creek Cottages and Inland Expeditions has pioneered natural history travel to Belize since 1981. As a private 365 acre nature reserve set along the banks of the Macal River in the foothills of the Maya Mountains, they have provided a unique rainforest experience for thousands of people while maintaining an unspoiled ambience.

An Incredible Journey

Albert Einstern once said, “Look deep into nature, you will understand things better.” The story of Chaa Creek began in 1977. The two founders, Mick and Lucy Fleming, stumbled upon what would become their adopted home. When they settled in Belize, they truly felt that they were God’s privileged creatures. To them, Chaa Creek has always had a magical feeling, the same feeling it may have had for the countless number of Maya who inhabited it a thousand years ago.

The first jungle lodge in Belize, Chaa Creek Cottages, opened its doors in 1981 and over the past two decades, growth has kept pace with the increasing number of visitors. For example, the Blue Morpho Butterfly Breeding Centre was established at Chaa Creek in 1993. It was designed to create awareness and understanding of the local environment for local and overseas visitors. The same year also saw the inauguration of  the Chaa Creek Natural History Centre, which records and displays the results of scientific studies conducted in Belize.

Today, Chaa Creek caters to the traveler looking for both physical and intellectual challenges, and the range of programs and activities has been designed to stimulate interest in the environment, culture and archaeology of Belize. In 2008, they were rated among the ‘World’s Top 50 Eco Lodges’ by National Geographic Adventure Magazine and ‘World’s Best Places to stay in Central & South America’ by Conde Nast Magazine. They also achieved the prestigious Green Globe Benchmark Bronze status under the globally recognised Benchmarking program which recognises them as operating to the world’s highest environmental standards.

Chaa Creek subscribes to the fundamental guidelines of ecotourism, the lush tropical environment and natural wonders of Belize is their product.

Low Impact, Sustainable Development

Chaa Creek subscribes to the fundamental guidelines of ecotourism. According to a statement from the two founders, “The goal of Chaa Creek is to establish a model of low-impact, sustainable development. By stimulating interest in the environment, natural history and local culture. We hope to demonstrate the long term benefits of ecotourism over other environmentally damaging options for development.”

The lush tropical environment and natural wonders of Belize is their product and they understand that in order to survive and prosper, they must work harmoniously with the natural environment and the indigenous people of the local communities. Therefore, the statement is and has been the guiding principal behind the development and daily operations of Chaa Creek.
The challenge to any ecotourism business is how to enable the wise utilisation of these resources in the present while ensuring that they remain viable for the benefit of future generations. Based at the Chaa Creek Natural History Centre, the Belize Foundation for Conservation (BFC), was established by Mick and Lucy Fleming. The mission of BFC is to “promote environment education, cultural awareness and sustainable conservation practices” throughout Belize. The Foundation also serves as the governing body for the many environmental and social projects and programs that are implemented and supported by Chaa Creek.
Chaa Creek guests enjoy thatch-roofed cottages situated in gardens at the edge of the rainforest, with the Macal River flowing in the deep valley below; and staying here is a true jungle experience.

Over the years, they have partnered with numerous local and international agencies, organisations and individuals in an effort to facilitate environmental conservation and research projects, such as partnership with the Zoological Society of Milwaukee County for Birds Without Borders; continuing research into the over 70 Maya sites within the Chaa Creek Nature Reserve by Dr Samuel Connell of the University of California for Archaeology Research; and an on-going Chaa Creek Natural History Centre project – Bay Palm Reforestation.

Rest and Relax

Chaa Creek guests enjoy thatch-roofed cottages situated in gardens at the edge of the rainforest, with the Macal River flowing in the deep valley below; and staying here is a true jungle experience.

The cuisine features a mixture of Caribbean, Mexican and Belizean dishes served under an enormous umbrella of thatch in their large, airy restaurant with a temperature controlled wine cellar. The dining room, bar and cottages are all constructed from local hardwoods and thatched with bay leaf palm.

Chaa Creek caters to the traveler looking for both physical and intellectual challenges, and the range of programs and activities has been designed to stimulate interest in the environment, culture and archaeology of Belize.

The Spa at Chaa Creek was conceived by the Fleming’s daughter, Bryony, a licensed esthetician. She has created a wonderful retreat, combining the natural beauty of the surrounding rainforest, elegant furnishings and local artwork, with her menu of therapeutic treatments with a wide variety of botanically based skin and body care products, for a complete mind and body rejuvenation experience.

Although Chaa Creek is the ideal place to relax in beautiful, tranquil surroundings, guests are encouraged to take part in a wide range of daily activities including walking, mountain biking and horseback riding along miles of private reserve trails. Other on-site activities include bird watching, swimming, canoeing, and guided tours of the Natural History Centre, Butterfly Farm, archeological sites and the nearby Rainforest Medicinal Trail.

Source: EcoAsia


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