Petaluma, CA, June 2007 Â– Do concerns about our globe have your conscience working over time? Check this out.
A 4-night / 5-day vacation program from the recently opened Casa del Caballo Blanco Eco-Lodge in Belize allows you to take your conscience on vacation Â– and have fun too.
Â“Toucan Eco-TourÂ” available through Nov. 30, 2007 is $815 per person. Included are a supervised participatory avian / biodiversity learning experience, breakfasts, dinners and some lunches, accommodations, off-site archeological tours and airport transfers. Local taxes, bar tab, optional activities and service charges are not included.
Casa del Caballo Blanco, a six-cabana, eco-friendly accommodation, shares 23 acres with the not-for-profit Casa Avian Support Alliance (CASA) whose purpose is to understand and support the biodiversity of Belize that attracts and sustains over 530 species of migratory and resident birds spotted in a given year.
The project undertaken by Jodi and Vance BentÃ©, lodge proprietors and Alliance founders, is in cooperation with the Government of BelizeÂ’’s efforts to protect critical habitat, the loss of which threatens the avian population.
This is the first voluntourism program of its kind in Belize. It has been endorsed by the Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Tourism Program (http://www.rainforest-alliance.org), Belize Audubon Society, Friends for Conservation and Development and Birds Without Borders.
Upon arrival at Philip Goldson International Airport guests are transferred to the lodge for dinner and an in-depth orientation. The next morning you hike a newly established 900-meter nature trail where, on a recent morning, 30 species of birds were sighted in the bush and overhead. Participants are then free to assist on site with nest-box building, maintenance and feeding as well as habitat restoration, trail building and signage. Optional afternoon activities include canoeing the Mopan and Macal rivers, exploring the hills on horseback or birding with a staff naturalist. Later, guests gather on the patio for a cold beer or glass of wine before enjoying a Belizean dinner prepared by a resident chef with locally produced ingredients.
The next day is an early morning departure for a day-long tour of the dramatic ruins of Tikal National Park (across the border into Guatemala), a 222-square-mile nature preserve thatÂ’s home to 410 species of birds and many animals. This largest known Mayan site (it once covered over 74 square miles) housed some 100,000 people at its zenith sometime between 800 BC to 900 AD. Tikal’s largest pyramid, Temple IV, reaches 231 feet skyward; the panoramic view from its summit reveals temple ruins rising from the adjoining plazas and the dense Peten jungle reaching to the horizon. ThereÂ’s a shopping stop at El Remate, a small village, or at Melchor de Mencos, Guatemala, at a bustling market place with textiles, ceramics, masks, wood and stone carving, leather goods, and jewelry available.
The following morning guests pursue tasks with staff and perhaps the CASA biologists before donning headlamps on a river tubing excursion in caves on the Caves Branch River.
On departure day, depending on air schedules, guests may have time to visit the Belize Zoo enroute back to the airport.
ABOUT CASA del CABALLO BLANCO
The CasaÂ’s hacienda-style Main House celebrates the regionÂ’s Hispanic culture with high, beamed ceilings, tile floors, hand-made furniture and interior design features hand-crafted by local artisans to evoke the footprint of an ordered, spiritual world of centuries ago. Nestled on a hillside overlooking the Mopan River Valley, the location provides a stunning view of the Mer de Verde, the Â“Green Ocean,Â” a site that could likely have been used in a similar manner by the Mayans. The guest quarters, six thatch-roofed, fully screen cabanas, all have en-suite bathrooms, refrigerators, hand-crafted furniture and Mayan-inspired fabrics.
Meals served in an airy, thatch-roofed dining room include Mayan food prepared in centuries-old QuichÃ©, Mopan and Yucatecan traditions. Creole foods combine exotic Hispanic and Caribbean flavors. All produce is fresh from CasaÂ’s own gardens and local markets and prepared locally by Belizeans.
ABOUT CASA AVIAN SUPPORT ALLIANCE (CASA)
On-site facilities provide a haven for avian wildlife recently freed from captivity or treated for injury or illness. Here birds can heal, rehabilitate and eventually be released back into their natural habitat. The facility is dynamic and will evolve annually with the guidance and cooperation of the Forest Department, Belize Audubon Society, Friends for Conservation and Development, Aves Sin Fronteras, and other organizations and experts from the avian community. Visit the alliance website for more information, http://www.casaavian.org
Lodge guests are also welcome to join its Passport Program that over time will showcase a half dozen other properties in the Americas with organizations who have similar goals and missions such as avian support.
For information on year-round educational programs and vacation packages, please visit http://www.casacaballoblanco.com or call 707-974-4942.