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Summer school was never like this

17 May 2011 No Comment

Imagine the excitement if you tell your family, “We’re going to spend our summer vacation having an educational experience!”

Hmmm…

OK, now rewind a bit and try, “We’re going to spend our summer vacation having an exciting educational experience in the tropical paradise of Belize learning about stuff like the ancient Maya, how to canoe down tranquil jungle rivers, how to ride horses, snorkel or scuba dive, identify beautiful tropical birds such as toucans, parrots and hummingbirds, learn about different cultures and maybe even a few words of Mayan or Spanish. And that’s just the first lessons!”

You’d probably get a very different response.

Welcome to one of the great summer vacation ideas of all time – a learning adventure you just can’t get anywhere other than Belize.

Many families, as well as couples, singles and groups of friends are looking for a bit more than just chilling out for their summer vacation. And while just simply relaxing and kicking back are wonderful in their own right, why not combine them with some amazing experiences that will have you going home that much richer with experience.

Belize is particularly suited to this growing trend of enriching your mind and spirit while relaxing the body with stress free, healthy activities. With one of the most diverse eco systems in the world per square mile, Belize packs lush jungle and rainforest, the Maya Mountains, beautiful rivers, the Mountain Pine Ridge and the Great Belize Barrier Reef (the second largest in the world and home a Jacques Cousteau favourite, The Blue Hole), some of the world’s biggest atolls and almost 200 small islands, known as cayes, between its borders. Known as the Heartland of the Maya, Belize’s Maya heritage can still be appreciated by exploring beautiful ancient temples such as Xunantunich or the huge metropolises of Caracol, Tikal and other cities of the old Maya Empire.

With the pivotal Maya year of 2012 approaching, you’ll be able to separate the Hollywood nonsense from the no less amazing facts of this fascinating and enigmatic civilisation, whose mathematics, astronomical calculations, architecture, intricate medical practices including brain surgery and writing make them one of the most advanced civilisations the world has ever seen. There is nothing like standing atop a massive pyramid looking at an endless expanse of lush jungle that was once a thriving city to get a sense of the lost grandeur of the Maya Civilisation.

And then there are Caribbean marine studies. Wherever you are in Belize, the sparkling blue Caribbean Sea is never more than a few hours away. Unlike most Caribbean destinations, Belize is still uncrowded, which makes it a perfect pace for learning things like snorkelling and scuba diving, sea kayaking, sailing, fly fishing and general angling, and pretty much any watersport you can think of.

The reef, islands, coastal villages and towns are so diverse that you can go from world class resorts favoured by celebrities on Ambergris Caye to bare bones but clean and island-style airy backpackers accommodation without travelling very far. The Belize Barrier Reef itself is an endlessly fascinating educational experience that could easily take a lifetime to explore. An UNESCO World Heritage site, it is becoming increasingly protected and is home to an astounding and stunningly beautiful ecosystem comprised of corals, sandy shallows and deep canyons, and diving is like being in a massive tropical aquarium with a riot of colours from the many fish flashing by or just treading water. Huge turtles, rays and marine mammals such as dolphins and manatees abound, and Belize’s Reef is one of the word’s few migration destinations of the gentle whale shark – the largest fish in the world.

You’ll come away with not only a gorgeous tan but a deeper knowledge and appreciation of the beautiful Belize Caribbean ecosystem.

The Lodge at Chaa Creek has always been one of Belize’s most educationally oriented eco resorts. Our Natural History Centre is known worldwide and hosts many school and study groups, as well as scientific and academic research. Our 365 acre private nature reserve contains some 70 identified Maya archaeological sites, including a Maya temple, and we have sponsored researchers from prominent universities and organisations. Our Maya Medicinal Plant Trail is a living link with ancient healing practices and natural remedies, and the onsite Butterfly Farm allows guest to watch the lifecycle of stunning Blue Morpho butterflies as they emerge from cacoons.

Ever wonder how people like the Maya fed their huge populations? Our traditional working Maya organic farm, which supplies our renowned restaurant, shows how people grew healthy food long before fertilisers and pesticides were discovered. It provides a glimpse into the past while giving some hope for the future.

We encourage self-paced learning experiences, and also have a team of highly trained, licensed naturalist guides to help bring the natural world alive. From early morning bird watching through to our fascinating Creatures of the Night jungle tours, you can safely explore the rainforest with knowledgeable, friendly guides. And as Belize is bilingual with English as the official language, communication is clear and easy.

Without leaving Chaa Creek guests of all ages and degrees of fitness can learn about the fascinating Maya culture, Belize’s unique and diverse natural history, and try things such as horseback riding, canoeing and jungle mountain biking. We’ve even watched young children learn to swim in our relaxing pool.

And we agree that relaxation should be a big part of adventure learning. Feel free to kick back with a good book and cool drink in your own hammock, meet interesting people in our convivial jungle bar, enjoy a candle lit dinner in the large airy thatched roof restaurant and indulge in a massage or professional spa treatment at the beautiful Hilltop Spa. You can even totally unwind in your own Jacuzzi in one of our luxury suites. We offer special kids educational programs as well as child minding and babysitting for those times when parents want a bit of quality togetherness.

We look after you even away from our grounds, with informative tours of Tikal, the incredible Maya city state just a few hours’ drive in nearby Guatemala, and our rainforest to reef, surf and turf special summer holiday packages allow you to combine a real Caribbean beach holiday with your rainforest adventure experience in an affordable, hassle free manner. Wake up among the jungle Howler monkeys and spend that afternoon swimming in the crystal waters along Belize’s barrier Reef – it’s that simple.

You’ll also learn how Green, sustainable living really works. Chaa Creek is recognised worldwide as a model for sustainable tourism and responsible travel. We’re proud of the recognition and numerous awards we’ve received, and continue to prove that doing the right thing by the environment doesn’t mean sacrificing comfort or luxury. Our guests seem to really appreciate our Green philosophy, and we welcome their ideas and input. After all, we’re all in in this world together…

So if you want a tropical summer vacation that not only relaxes but enriches, contact Chaa Creek and tell us you’re looking for an educational adventure – we’ll know just what you mean and will help you create a learning experience that broadens your horizons while providing great healthy fun and adventure for all ages and tastes.

Education was never so good…



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