Think Thanksgiving. Think giving. Consider combining an adventure vacation in the mountains of Belize with important volunteer work with the not-for-profit Casa Avian Support Alliance (www.casaavian.org).
A five day/four night holiday stay at Casa del Caballo Blanco eco lodge (www.casacaballoblanco.com) includes a visit to the major Mayan ceremonial site of Tikal, tubing through Xibalba, the Mayan underworld of the Caves Branch River, and hands-on work with the center’s avian rescue and rehabilitation program.
Casa del Caballo Blanco eco lodge is a six-casita accommodation on 23 scenic hilltop acres near San Ignacio, Belize. It shares space with an avian rehabilitation and release center called Casa Avian Support Alliance and offers voluntourism and adventure opportunities on premise and throughout the region.
Concerned travelers now can put words into action by booking a visit here and participating in avian rescue and rehabilitation efforts while also enjoying the culture, adventure and tranquility of a vacation in Belize. This is the first avian voluntourism program of its kind in Belize. It has been endorsed by the Rainforest Alliance sustainable Tourism Program (www.rainforest-alliance.org), Belize Audubon Society, Friends for Conservation and Development and Birds Without Borders.
The four-night Thanksgiving package, dubbed the “Toucan Tour” runs $815 per person inclusive of accommodation, most meals, planned outings and on-site volunteer work with the various ongoing avian support projects. Excluded are local taxes, optional activities and service charges. Operation of both the lodge and its avian project, both not for profit, depend partly on guest revenues from the lodge operations as well as volunteer labor and participation to fulfill its vital mission.
“Habitat destruction, the effects of global warming and the illegal poaching and capture of exotic birds are real world problems. The work we do here seeks 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,” explains lodge owner Vance Bente.
E.O. Wilson, citing work done by leading wildlife biologists on the destruction of rain forests in the Americas, suggests that within a century, “The stage will be set…for the inevitable loss of 12 percent of the 704 bird species in the Amazon Basin and 15 percent of the plant species in South and Central America.”
Lodge visitors are encouraged to assist with on-site nest-box building, general maintenance and feeding as well as habitat restoration, nature trail building, wild bird identification and signage. In addition, lodge guests can access numerous Mayan ruins and indigenous villages in Belize and across the border into Guatemala including Flores on Lago Peten, the World Heritage site of Tikal, and the recent Survivor site at Yaxha/Topoxte.
Casa’s hacienda-style Main House celebrates the region’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 “Green Ocean,” 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 Quiché, Mopan and Yucatecan traditions. Creole foods combine exotic Hispanic and Caribbean flavors. All produce is fresh from Casa’s own gardens and local markets and prepared locally by Belizeans.
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, 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 www.casacaballoblanco.com or call 707-974-4942.
SOURCE: Widness & Wiggins PR