Margay Sighting @ Chan Chich Lodge

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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

Gaps, Meaning & More

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Kyle DeNuccio, right, on Lake Batur in Bali, a gap year stop. CreditKyle DeNuccio

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:

Independence Days: My Perfect Imperfect Gap Year

By

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

Newtonian Moment At Chan Chich Lodge

ForageCCL.jpgEach 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.

ForageCCL2Instead 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

America’s Best Idea Just Got Better

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.

Glacier Maps

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

Norms At Chan Chich Lodge

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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.

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howler monkey

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

Admire & Emulate

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It is not the first time we have enjoyed a good long read about either of these companies’ and/or founders, but this one in the Guardian offers a good look circa 2017:

Patagonia and The North Face: saving the world – one puffer jacket at a time

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

I Hope To See You At Chan Chich Lodge

CCLWalk.jpgYesterday in these pages we welcomed you to visit the new website for and the actual place, Chan Chich Lodge. It bears repeating. This time by me personally. Please come here.

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.

Mobitecture, The Wonders Of Mobile Architecture

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The Starlight Room – Raniero Campigotto

Thanks to Phaidon for its always-interesting new books for coffee table-pondering:

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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

Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in La Paz

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.

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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

Urban Tracking And Other Soft Local Adventures

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Raccoon track in mud along stream. Sarpy County, Nebraska. October 1996. Central Tallgrass Prairie Ecoregion. Photo © The Nature Conservancy (Chris Helzer)

It seems to go hand in hand with today’s other post, so thanks to The Nature Conservancy as always for this one:

A Field Guide to Tracking in Your Neighborhood

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.

Continue reading

Mayan City, Deep Jungle Discovery

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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:

AN ANCIENT CITY EMERGES IN A REMOTE RAIN FOREST

…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

Big Weather & Big Cats At Chan Chich Lodge

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:

Jaguars Interrupted: Counting Big Cats After A Hurricane

Two months after Earl hit Belize, researchers at the world’s first jaguar reserve are still taking stock.

By Vicki Croke

This past summer, within days of gathering spectacular camera-trap footage of a female jaguar and her two tiny cubs sauntering through the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary in Belize, field scientists with Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization, got the news that a tropical storm was forming and might just come their way. Continue reading

Sardine Disco Balls, Or Cabo Pulmo

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A free diver swooping into a sardine ball. Credit Keith Sepe

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

National Park of the Week: Sarek National Park, Sweden

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Image from thousandwonders.net

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

Elusive Mammals

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Jaguar, the indomitable beast. Photo © The Nature Conservancy (Matt Miller)

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:

Where to See 10 Impossibly Elusive Mammals

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

From Recent Chan Chich Lodge Guests

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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