See Belize from the Saddle of a Horse!

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It’s not the sort of ranch one would expect in an ocean paradise, but in fact, if you’re the adventurous sort and have a penchant for touring that transcends hiking and sailing, how about a horseback riding tour of Belize to see this land from a different perspective? Not every resort offers a signature horseback riding tour, but Chabil Mar, the luxury destination preference of North Americans does, so this is the place you will want to stay for multiple reasons while visiting Belize. Lush accommodations. First-class service. An onsite restaurant that’s a gourmet’s dream. But when you take your horseback tour, the dress code runs from jeans and t-shirts to sturdy shoes!

No experience required

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If you were about to say thanks but no thanks because the last time you rode a horse was during a carousel ride ages ago, Chabil Mar’s horseback riding excursion is designed for you. Easy trails, lots of instruction and gentle horses make it a relaxing experience. On the other hand, if you know your way around saddles, bridles and reins, guides will take you on the ride your life, over paths that wind around jungles and rain forests where plants, flowers, trees, birds and perhaps a curious member of Belize’s wildlife community will welcome you to their world.

Horse talk

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Horses and jungles? Not usually a common pairing, but in fact, horses have been right at home in Belize for centuries. They’ve been used for pulling wagons, tilling fields, general transport and recreational riding. Though smaller in size than the horses you may be used to riding, these animals are specifically trained to navigate Belize terrain, including hillsides where mud and obstacles require surefooted animals. Because the ranch that’s home to these horses is quite expansive, mounts born and bred on premises are gentle, rider-friendly horses—-trained from the day they’re born to respond to riders of all ages.

Wranglers

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Guests of Chabil Mar opting for a day of horseback riding often return to the resort raving about the horses and the people who handle them and you’ll likely feel the same way. These professional guides are skilled at working with kids and adults, and they always accompany riders out into the jungle, guiding them along paths with which they are extremely familiar. But that’s not the end of the story: guides also know a lot about Belize’s history, culture and wildlife, so as you ride beneath tree canopies and along the Sittee River, where jumping off the horse to take a swim is part of the tour, you’ll learn plenty about Belize’s natural resources.

Arrangements

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To take advantage of Chabil Mar’s unique horseback riding experience, all you need do is book the tour with resort staff and you’ve done the hard work. Plan to go as a couple or in a group of up to 12. As long as members of your party are over the age of 7 and weigh less than 250 pounds, everyone can be accommodated. You’ll leave the resort in the morning—travel to the ranch and ride throughout the morning, returning to Chabil Mar for lunch. Bring bug spray, sunblock, a hat, and sunglasses, and don’t forget a camera so you can snap photos of everything from natural wonders to your horse. This all-inclusive tour is popular, so book your horseback riding experience when you reserve your accommodations and you won’t miss a moment of fun.

For more information about horseback riding in Belize, feel free to chat with our Concierge at: concierge@chabilmarvillas.com or contact our Reservations Manager at:reservations@chabilmarvillas.com. Or perhaps you would like to call toll free from the US or Canada: 1-866-417-2377.

Belize Is a Unique Destination to Study Arthropods

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Photo by Nash Turley

Belize is much more than a great destination to enjoy beautiful beaches, explore ancient Maya ruins, and scuba dive the rich waters around coral reefs; it is also a superb location to study arthropods. With a large and complex ecosystem of pristine rainforests and jungles, Belize has been attracting biologists and environmental scientists for decades who come to the country to study the varied forms of arthropods which include thousands of species of crustaceans at sea and insects on land.

More than 80% of all non-plant species on the planet are arthropods, including species like butterflies, crabs, lobsters and shrimp. Defined as animals with no interior bones and relying on an exterior hard shell or segmented body (called an exoskeleton), arthropods have over a million known species. Arthropods are sensitive to pollution so scientists from around the world come to Belize to study these important creatures in a setting where they thrive.

Recently, students enrolled at the New Mexico State University College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences visited Belize for a 10-day expedition to study the Central American nation’s ecology. The students came to Belize because of the wide diversity of arthropods found in the local jungles and forests. Thanks to strong conservation efforts by the government of Belize, arthropods are able to flourish in their natural habitats.

If you are traveling to Belize to enjoy more traditional attractions like the Belize Barrier Reef, the miles of gorgeous beaches or the dozens of Mayan ruins, you might also enjoy learning more about the country’s diverse ecology and its abundance of arthropods.

For close access to both the Belize Barrier Reef offshore and pristine rainforests and jungles on the mainland, Chabil Mar features luxury accommodations in a charming and unique setting. A guest exclusive resort located on the Placencia Peninsula in Southern Belize, Chabil Mar offers excursions to see all of the best ancient Mayan cities, as well as snorkeling and diving tours to the reef. The resort can also arrange expeditions to witness nature in the Cockscomb Basin Preserve and along the banks of the Monkey River, two of the best places in the country where you can learn more about Belize’s unique flora and fauna.

For information about visiting Belize, feel free to chat with our Concierge at: concierge@chabilmarvillas.com or contact our Reservations Manager at:reservations@chabilmarvillas.com. Or perhaps you would like to call toll free from the US or Canada: 1-866-417-2377.

Instead of Going to Ambergris Caye, Why Not Placencia?

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Placencia beaches

Ambergris Caye is the largest island in Belize and is known for its beaches and a wide array of marine adventures like snorkeling, scuba diving and fishing. However, lately  many travelers are discovering the Placencia Peninsula, a superb destination in southern Belize that is not overcrowded and offers amazing snorkeling, scuba diving, land adventures and is known for having the best white sandy beaches in the country.

The gorgeous Placencia Peninsula is a beautiful 16-mile stretch of land that features sandy mangrove-lined lagoons on one side and the sparkling waters of the Caribbean on the other. At the southern tip of the peninsula is the village of Placencia. Once a small community of fishermen, the village has recently expanded to accommodate visitors with lovely cafes, restaurants featuring fresh seafood, and dive shops that have all the gear necessary to enjoy snorkeling, fishing, and diving at the nearby Belize Barrier Reef.

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Monkey River Village

Placencia Peninsula is also ideally situated for mainland adventures. Located in the southeastern part of Belize, Placencia is close to Monkey River Village where tourists can ride a boat upstream to witness a spectacular variety of flora and fauna in its natural habitat, including the howler monkeys that gave the river its name. Also nearby is the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, home to the last native jaguars in Central America as well as hundreds of species of birds and exotic plants.

Many visitors come to Placencia because they prefer the beaches to those found on Ambergris Caye. With miles of pristine sand and transparent waters, the peninsula is an ideal place to enjoy snorkeling, work on your tan, or simply drink in a beautiful sunrise or sunset. Just a few miles offshore is Gladden Spit, a marine reserve that allows divers to explore a wide variety of marine life, including migrating whale sharks that visit the area once a year.

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Garifuna flag

Placencia is also near the region that is home to the Garifuna people who began emigrating to Belize over a century ago, bringing their special blend of music, dancing, and food with them. The towns of Dangriga, Hopkins and Seign Beight near Placencia are the de facto capitals of the Garifuna culture where visitors can immerse themselves in this unique laid back and warmly inviting lifestyle.

The pace of life in Placencia is far more relaxed and moves at a slower pace than tourist hotspots like Ambergris Caye and is a premier location to enjoy both marine and land adventures. To get a truly authentic experience of what life in Belize is all about, you simply must visit the Placencia Peninsula.

For information about visiting Placencia, feel free to chat with our Concierge at: concierge@chabilmarvillas.com or contact our Reservations Manager at:reservations@chabilmarvillas.com. Or perhaps you would like to call toll free from the US or Canada: 1-866-417-2377.

The Best Bird-Watching in Belize

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Belize’s Bird Watching Tradition Has Extremely Deep Roots

Want to know which area of Belize has the best bird-watching opportunities? Fact is, every inch of Belize is a birder’s paradise, so you can’t go wrong by choosing this Caribbean destination, whether birding is already your passion or you’re just getting started.

The sport/hobby of bird watching has roots in the British Isles where the tradition of observing and recording birds has been around for so many centuries, even Shakespeare’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor” play includes this complaint: “She laments sir… her husband goes this morning a-birding.”

So was Belize’s history as the former UK colony known as British Honduras the sole reason this nation has become a mecca for those fascinated with all things avian? Hardly. Belize’s geographic proximity to jungles, rivers, rain forests, lagoons and shoreline—plus natural flyways that existed long before the hemisphere was inhabited–simply provide everything birds require to thrive…

…and thrive, they do! The ongoing debate about how many bird species have been identified in Belize has been known to launch some fascinating conversations. Some authorities say more than 683 species have been identified in Belize, but the nation’s Audubon Society claims the number is closer to 587. Stick around long enough and you can make your own estimate!

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Bird species, it seems, are as fickle as are humans. Some stick around Belize year ‘round. Others emulate tourists that flock here: they come and go with the wind. But all species of the birds frequenting Belize are offered a wide variety of natural habitats that include coastal plains, tropical forests, wetlands, savannahs and cayes.

What birding objective are you seeking to achieve by coming to Belize? Are you looking to do research, update your journal or photograph birds? Most bird-loving travelers want to do all of these, though if you are interested in seeing specific Belize species, you can maximize your time by choosing areas they frequent.

Travel to Belize’s west regions and stay in  San Ignacio or the Mountain Pine Ridge to spot rare Orange-breasted falcons, Stygian Owls and Keel-billed Motmot. Specify Toledo’s Aguacaliente Wildlife Sanctuary, a 6,000-acre park that’s the site of three lagoons that serve as breeding grounds for Boat-Billed Herons, five types of kingfisher and Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks.

The Rio Bravo Conservation Area consists of 250,000 acres of land that nurtures flocks of keel billed toucans amid hundreds of other species, or spend the majority of your time at Stann Creek’s Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Preserve. The sheer variety of bird types flocking to this reserve is amazing and includes Scarlet Macaws. Photograph this colorful bird feeding on Annatto shrub and you’ll bring home calendar-worthy images.

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Where to stay while enjoying your bliss-filled birding adventure? Frequent visitors to Chabil Mar highly recommend making this resort your hub. Staff is delighted to make recommendations to those who want to see certain birds, but if you’ve no preferences, peruse this Belize bird list, http://www.birdlist.org/belize.htm, to see what species interest you most.

On the other hand, if you seek relaxation and stimulation, Chabil Mar’s birding package takes the guess work out of your experience so you spend all of your time gazing into binoculars rather than worrying about logistics. It’s the best way we know to immerse yourself in Belize’s avian wildlife without lifting a finger.


For more information about birding in Belize, feel free to chat with our Concierge at: concierge@chabilmarvillas.com or contact our Reservations Manager at:reservations@chabilmarvillas.com. Or perhaps you would like to call toll free from the US or Canada: 1-866-417-2377.