When Leander caught this cat in his camera some weeks ago, there was no telling if and when, or where, we might see it again. Last night, a family from Los Angeles who just the night before had seen two other species of cat during the night safari at Chan Chich Lodge, decided on a guided trek through the forest starting at 8pm. Continue reading
Persistence does not always pay off. But, it is often a great trait for its own sake. We all admire people who set out to do something, and stick with it long after there is reason to continue hoping for that something. And, if you are like me, you cheer the underdog, hoping they will at the very last minute get that something. Continue reading
Over the last couple weeks we have had a pretty full range of the animals guests most hope to see. Although the jaguars have been elusive, puma and ocelot have been wandering the nearby forests allowing occasional sightings. But we can guess the jaguar are there because of this:
I am currently interviewing candidates to join us for summer internships, and possible university gap year projects at Chan Chich Lodge. Most importantly the projects will focus on various food-related initiatives, some longstanding goals and others more in the spirit of random variation. We have had plenty of awesome interns, as well as wondrous wanderers and sometimes sabbaticalists join us here and there for more than two decades, and we feel qualified to claim that this fellow (who reminds me a bit of this fellow) speaks truth:
Midway through a lackluster freshman year at the University of San Diego, I called my parents and told them I planned to leave school after the spring semester. Continue reading
Each morning at dawn, and then again at dusk, I walk the trails at Chan Chich Lodge. The walks serve multiple purposes, but they also serve no particular purpose; and when I get that just right, ideas present themselves.
This tree, not a standout in any way I can see, is a marker for me now. It is on a trail where I have had some wonderful wildlife sightings, the best of which, camera-less, was with a tapir. More recently, a troupe of peccaries was snouting around the base of this tree.
And most days there are two species of primate in the vicinity, each challenging the other for territory in their own way–one with grunting howls and the other by shaking clusters of branches vigorously to appear more intimidating than their common name, spider monkey, would imply. Yesterday, a Newtonian inspiration, tailored to my own interests, came to me right here. I saw these bursts of light on the tree trunk at the same moment that I heard a plop in the leaves on the ground right in front of the tree.
Instead of an apple, and instead of my head, it was some sort of a fungus, a cluster of mushrooms by the look of it, that fell from the canopy into the ground cover. Gravity already having had its heyday of consideration, I instead turned my thoughts to the possibility of a new dimension to the Chan Chich Lodge food program.
I had never heard of mushrooms growing in the forest canopy, but why should I not expect such a thing? I know from our friend Meg, among others, that the vast majority of biodiversity in a rainforest is concentrated in the canopy. So, hmmmm. Is it an edible one?
I snapped these photographs and sent them to one of the two fellows who I always consult on these matters. Answer: too dry to make a positive id. Don’t eat. Of course I will not! But, and here’s the closest I will get to a Newtonian moment of inspiration… Continue reading
In our current political climate we continue to applaud those who stand up to for science, nature and culture. It’s been particularly heartening to watch the steward’s of our national parks create a virtual protective shield around the vision they’re charged to protect.
My personal standing ovation goes to the partially anonymous park ranger who spends his spare time creating downloadable maps of all our country’s national parks, by state, from A to Z. (F, Q, U and X seem to be the only letters missing…) In addition to maps, site visitors find all sorts of experiential tips to prepare for safe exploration.
If you’re looking for a Glacier map, you’ve come to the right place; currently I’ve collected 28 free Glacier National Park maps to view and download. (PDF files and external links will open in a new window.) Here you’ll find a bunch of trail maps, along with other maps such as campgrounds and the shuttle bus. You can also browse the best-selling Glacier maps and guidebooks on Amazon. Continue reading
Thanks to our guests, Yvonne & Martin Ryves of Cork, Ireland for these snapshots taken on the night safari Wednesday after dinner. The one above looks like an ocelot in a dreamscape. Below, as crisp a couple of shots as you are likely to get on the go in the dark in this part of the world. Continue reading
Norms have developed on the sightings board at Chan Chich Lodge over the years; unusual birds and apex predators get most of the attention most of the time.
And for good reason. But on a day to day basis, monkeys are almost always in the trees in close proximity to the lodgings. The variety to the left is a noisy one, territorial and vocal in a manner that you will recognize from the soundscape of whatever King Kong movie you might have seen. Urbanite guests seem to favor that noise, we have noticed. Continue reading
The retail giants are not only competing to sell outdoor gear – they are rivals in the contest to sell the thrill of the wilderness to the urban masses Continue reading
A couple weeks back, there were a string of remarkable sightings, recorded by guests in a series of photos and then listed on the board by the Chan Chich Lodge reception area. That was a good preview for what happened yesterday, when guests arriving to the Lodge encountered a mature jaguar crossing the road. Continue reading
The snapshot to the right, taken on my phone just minutes ago on my morning walk, says the same. If you combine it with the last time I was walking these paths, you will see one more reason why I walk every morning.
I walk the roads and paths at Chan Chich every morning with the hope of seeing wildlife, and knowing that breathing the air here is better than doing so almost anywhere else on the planet. It is pure.
Between the puma-sighting snapshot and now I was in India. I have just arrived to Belize again and expect to be here for some time. I did not see any big cats this morning, but the birdlife is as abundant as ever, and their song just now provides very good cheer. If you need more information on why to come to Chan Chich, or how, or when, just let me know.
Thanks to Phaidon for its always-interesting new books for coffee table-pondering:
Adaptable, intelligently put together, responsive to local conditions and able and willing to travel almost anywhere with ease – but enough about you, we’re here to tell you about mobitecture. What’s mobitecture we hear you ask? Well it’s mobile architecture and Mobitecture is the name we’ve smartly bestowed on it in our latest book.
Mobitecture looks at 250 examples of mobile architecture from around the world that enable the almost universal dream of upping sticks, moving somewhere and changing the way your world looks. The structures in it roll, inflate, unfold, flat-pack or pop-up, slide on sleds and float across water in a book that brings together a spectacular collection of structures in which to revel, live, work, pause – or just simply escape. Continue reading
Last week, Jocelyn and I took the three-hour drive from Villa del Faro to La Paz, the capital of Baja California Sur. After about seventy minutes on the dirt coastal road that runs along the East Cape, one reaches the asphalt road near La Ribera, which connects to Mexico’s Route 1, a well-paved highway that runs from San José del Cabo all the way north to Tijuana (1,654km away). Before heading anywhere near that far, however, we turned off at the La Paz exit, to explore the port city home to over 200,000 people.
If you look at a map of the geography surrounding La Paz, you can see that it is quite sheltered from the ocean, with a chunk of land protecting it on the east side, a thin strip closing in from the west, and a long bay running to the north, all this in the relatively calmer Gulf of California. In 1535 the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés tried to start a colony in the area, but it wasn’t fully settled till over sixty years later.
Today, the main tourist attractions to La Paz are marine in nature, Continue reading
It seems to go hand in hand with today’s other post, so thanks to The Nature Conservancy as always for this one:
By Matt Miller
Tracking is one of the most family-friendly wildlife activities; you can enjoy it anywhere there is a patch of open ground. As I’ve written previously, kids love deciphering the mysteries of animal tracks. Even my two-year-old son loves checking out the tracks in our yard.
Mr. Preston shares an experience that is not familiar to many people, and perhaps only considered enviable by a select few. The team at Chan Chich Lodge meets visitors every day of the year who are looking for a distant cousin of this experience described below, and those guests come away invariably awed by the opportunity to have a safe, comfortable adventure deep in nature, exploring well protected remains of a Mayan civilization buried by time and jungle. For them, this is worth a read:
…The revelation of an ancient city in a valley in the Mosquitia mountains, of Honduras, one of the last scientifically unexplored regions on Earth, was a different story. This was the first time a large archaeological site had been discovered in a purely speculative search using a technology called lidar, or “light detection and ranging,” which can map terrain through the thickest jungle foliage, an event I chronicled in a story for the magazine in 2013. As a result, this discovery revealed something vanishingly rare: a city in an absolutely intact, undisturbed, pristine state, buried in a rain forest so remote and untouched that the animals there appeared never to have seen people before. Continue reading
Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is of interest because it is a pioneer in conservation in Belize–as Chan Chich Lodge is in its own way. But in writing about it Vicky Croke, for The Wild Life at WBUR (National Public Radio, Boston, USA), reminds a few of us of our time in Belize during Earl, and the aftermath during which jaguar sitings have been, and continue to be, inexplicably spectacular:
Joanna Klein’s story in the Science section of the New York Times this week, titled Swimming With the Mysterious Sardine Disco Balls of the Philippines, has had me thinking in recent days about the Gulf of California, and specifically about Villa del Faro. If you have reason to be in the Philippines, click the image above to get a quick view of what may be in store for a diver in certain waters.
But otherwise, I will riff off that photo in the direction of Baja California Sur. The intensity of those sardine schools are comparable to the biodiversity in the waters of Cabo Pulmo. Continue reading
Described as “Europe’s last wilderness,” Sarek National Park is a dream destination for hikers, mountaineers, and adventure fanatics who are looking for untamed and challenging terrain. The park is in the province of Norrbotten in northern Sweden and located north of the Arctic Circle (burrrr!). The park has precipitous mountains that reach heights greater than 2000 meters and has almost 100 glaciers. In addition, long, deep, narrow valleys and wild, turbulent waters wind between the mountain chains, creating a sensational sight of unrestricted wilderness. Continue reading
The photo above is one of the highlights of this story at Cool Green Science. We have been to the location where this photo was taken and agree it is an awesome spot in terms of probabilities. But not as good as the probabilities in the wilderness surrounding Chan Chich Lodge:
BY MATT MILLER
I grew up dreaming about seeing the world’s rarest and most elusive animals. I knew that some would be extremely unlikely if not impossible. See a snow leopard? Biologists spent months, years, seeking snow leopards and never caught so much as a glimpse.
In reality, you can now see many of these cryptic creatures, if you know where to travel and search. Continue reading
When this family told me about their encounter with a troupe of monkeys I had not yet seen these photographs, which they shared as they were preparing to depart Chan Chich Lodge. Looking at the photos now I understand why they were so thrilled by the wilderness setting. The first one I saw, above, was just a blur so I skipped it, but when I came back to it I realized this was what the son in the family had most loved–the exploration, the search to see his first animal in the wild. Continue reading