Belize has done it again. Despite being a small nation, our jewel sure knows how to get placed on the map. Just last month, the esteemed travel publication Lonely Planet named Belize a Top Country to Visit in 2022. This time, world-renowned National Geographic adds to the fanfare, listing Belize as one of the 25 Amazing Journeys for 2022. Talk about an honor! The unique feature that got us on the coveted list? Our thriving wildlife and nature reserves, of course.
“We’re ready to explore again,” NatGeo writes. And we couldn’t agree more. What better way to stretch those dormant travel wings than flying to the tropical country of Belize like the snowbird you are? For this particular accolade, Belize was listed under the Nature category, and it’s a no-brainer as to why. Teeming with 103 protected areas and reserves, the pint-sized country has more than enough to offer on the nature front. Walk far enough in any direction in Belize and you’ll brush the outskirts of lush broadleaf trees and pine forests. Sometimes, the dense jungles are even closer than you think, like when staying at a premier ecoresort.
Take Chaa Creek, where when swinging open your doors you’ll come face-to-face with giant monstera, their perforated leaves waving hello. Walking up to the Mariposa Restaurant and you’ll be flanked by Birds of Paradise on either side of the walkway. In fact, wander long enough on the grounds and you’ll notice the Lodge is actually integrated in Belize’s nature. A perfectly balanced blend of greenery and luxury. This privilege is only possible due to Belize’s already verdant ecosystem, its tropical wildlife specifically highlighted by National Geographic’s article. The travel publication cited the commendable purchase of the Belize Maya Forest Reserve as an example of Belize’s conservation efforts. This coalition was brought together by The Nature Conservancy and Belize. Which means a whopping 236,000 acres of tropical forests will be preserved. The protected area is contiguous with the Rio Bravo Conservation Management Area where together, they’ll represent 9% of the landmass in Belize. This feat is nothing to sneeze at and further proof our tiny country has been at the forefront of preservation.
A protected playground for all
In total, 40% of the land in Belize now has some sort of protection in place. A 40% you can explore to your heart’s content. After all, Belize lends itself to an inexhaustible list of nature-tinged activities across the country. At Chaa Creek alone you can partake in a multitude of these nature experiences without ever leaving the property. Try your hand at bird watching by waking up early to train your binoculars at the treetops outside your cottage. With a little patience, you’re bound to spot Belize’s very own national bird, the Keel-Billed Toucan, sunbathing. Walk the short trail to the riverbank and listen for brown jays shrieking in merriment. Looking for something a little more fast-paced? Sign up for a Belize Rainforest RTV Safari and enjoy the beauty of Chaa Creek’s 400-acre reserve. All from the highest point at the property! A medicinal plants trail isn’t a bad idea, either, to learn about the helpful benefits of nature around us. All of these and more can be found in the small slice of Belize found at the lodge.
A Home to Vibrant Wildlife
Sure, the land in Belize is more than happy to accommodate curious eco-travelers and residents. But we must remember the ones that were here first. That is, the “endemic and endangered wild things” National Geographic lists out in their piece. This is their home, too, and it’s our duty to protect the biodiversity that is vital to the wildlife corridor. Tapirs, jaguars, howler monkeys, 400 species of birds, and umpteenth others call Belize home. Our furry, feathered, and four-legged residents are the “charismatic megafauna” that adds to the allure of the Central American nation.
Many of them are easily encountered at lodges tucked in the forests, too. To get up close and personal with some, opt for a Creatures of the Night Hike at our lodge. Here, your headlamp (and naturalist guide) will help you spot an opossum lounging in a tree, red eyes glinting. Keep your eyes trained up or you just might miss a baby mottled owl just chilling on a low branch. Prefer to look where you’re walking? Good idea, in case you almost step on a furry tarantula scurrying across the trail. If you’re lucky, you’ll come across ocelot tracks, offering a short window into the abundance of wildlife within Belize’s jungles.
________If anything, this National Geographic distinction was probably inevitable. Belize has lately been gracing worldwide charts where conservation is concerned. So much so it seems notable groups are starting to take notice, and we can’t blame them. At Chaa Creek, these values go further than championing sustainability, though. The lodge’s ethos revolves around the importance of regenerative-based tourism. An umbrella term that focuses on doing everything possible to leave our world better than we found it. Whether through community & environmentally focused initiatives or through the ambitions of our guests themselves. Chaa Creek hopes to further fuel this newly-shared gumption of making Belize a conservation giant for all to enjoy.