Culture, food, and music of Belize in spotlight at New Orleans Jazz Fest 2016

Posted on Monday, April 18th, 2016

NEW-ORLEANS-JAZZ-FESTIVAL2One of the most exciting cultural events in music is set to kick off this Friday in New Orleans, Louisiana. The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival will be held in the Cultural Exchange Pavilion at the Louisiana State Fair Grounds, and this year will feature a strong focus on the nation of Belize.

First founded in 1970 after a spontaneous meeting between gospel legend Mahalia Jackson and jazz great Duke Ellington, the New Orleans Jazz Festival has since blossomed to become one of the premiere musical festivals held in the United States. Every year, the festival includes a spotlight on a specific nation, with Belize holding this special honor in 2016.

Attendees will see a special demonstration of the music, culture and history of the Central American nation of Belize, showcasing its unique heritage of Maya, Creole, East Indian, British, Mestizo, Garifuna, Lebanese, Mennonite, Caribbean and Chinese history. Long a British colony, today Belize is an independent nation and the only country in Central America with English as its official language.


See also: 4 Ways to Experience Belizean Culture Around Belize


At this year’s Jazz and Heritage Festival, Belizean local Florencio Mess, a master craftsman of the traditional Mayan K’ekhchi harp, will give both musical demonstrations as well as workshops on how he and his son make the centuries-old instrument. Belizean storyteller Natividad Obando will present a traditional Day of the Dead altar at the festival for Belizean musicians while basketweaver Marta Chiac will give a workshop on how to make Mayan jippi jappa baskets from materials sourced from the rainforest.

Daid Matus, the award-winning costume designer, will have an exhibition to showcase some of the many Carnival costumes he’s created over the past 18 years. Artist Elmer Panti will hold demonstrations on how to carve slate according to traditional Mayan techniques and the Talla Walla Vibrations band will give a performance of Creole Sambai and Garifuna drum music.

The staff and management of Chabil Mar support all the artists and craftspeople who will be giving demonstrations and performances at the festival and thank the organizers for this special opportunity to promote the music, history and culture of Belize.

Belize Whale Sharks – 8 Fascinating Facts You Need to Know

Posted on Thursday, April 14th, 2016

belize whale sharksDespite its massive size, Whale Sharks are the “Gentle Giants” of the ocean. Unlike their other shark relatives that are meat-eaters, these giants are filter feeders.

Every year, huge schools of migrating whale sharks arrive in the waters off of Belize in order to feed on fish spawn and plankton. These enormous creatures normally cruise a depth beyond the reach of most divers. It is only when they rise to the surface to feed that humans can get the rare and wonderful opportunity to interact with these friendly and inquisitive creatures.

Below are eight fascinating facts you need to know about whale sharks:

  1. The name “whale” shark refers to their size, not their biology. Whale sharks are fish, not mammals.
  2. Whale sharks have been swimming in the Earth’s oceans for approximately 60 million years.
  3. Whale sharks have teeth but never use them. They feed by filtering the water for microscopic bacteria and algae.
  4. Whale sharks travel approximately 30,000 miles around the globe every year.
  5. The largest whale shark ever caught weighed more than 47,000 pounds.
  6. Despite weighing several tons, whale sharks feed almost exclusively on tiny plankton virtually invisible to the naked eye.
  7. In Asia, whale sharks are called “tofu fish” because the meat is said to taste and look like tofu.
  8. Scientists have never observed whale sharks mating and know very little about their biology.

Although whale sharks circumnavigate the globe every year, it is only in the waters around Gladden Spit off the coast of Placencia in Belize that divers can get the rare chance to interact and photograph these magnificent animals. Drawn to the enormous concentration of fish spawn and plankton in the area, whale sharks arrive in the waters off of Belize between March and June.

Because whale sharks are carefully protected by Belizean conservation laws, divers who want to dive with whale sharks must use a licensed tour operator. If you’d like to partake in a truly special diving adventure to get close to and interact with the gentle giants of the deep, sign up for this complete Belize whale shark diving package. It includes three limited slots to dive with whale sharks and accommodations at the world-class Belize resort of Chabil Mar.


For information about diving with whale sharks 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.

 

Monkey River Jungle Tour – A Must See & Do in Southern Belize

Posted on Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

monkey river tour

The tiny picturesque village of Monkey River in the Toledo District is located on the coast of southeastern Belize at the mouth of the iconic Monkey River. This Creole village is a popular destination for eco-tourism trips up the pristine natural river to see some of the extraordinary range of tropical flora and fauna in the country, including the ubiquitous howler monkey that gave the river and village their names.

This eco-friendly tour starts in the village of Monkey River where visitors can dine at the popular local restaurant and stock up supplies. Visitors then board a small watercraft to begin a leisurely cruise up this gentle river. Along the way, it’s easy to spot crocodiles, manatees (often called “sea cows” due to their placid nature and large size), dolphins, lizards, monkeys and dozens of tropical bird species like parrots and toucans.

The tour will stop at various locations to give visitors an opportunity to explore the jungle on foot, keeping an eye out for snakes and spiders. Howler monkeys will make their presence known with their famous call, inviting children and adults to join in all the fun. Following well-marked paths, visitors can learn from their guides about the rich variety of medicinal plants, insects and animals that call the area home.

If you’re sensitive to the sun, be sure to be prepared by bringing and applying plenty of sunscreen, wearing loose clothing and/or wearing a hat. Due to the abundance of insects in the jungle, it is also recommended that visitors bring insect repellent and wear protective clothing for hiking through the jungle.

Not designed to be a high-adrenaline adventure, a cruise up the Monkey River is instead a way to relax and enjoy the unspoiled scenery while keeping one eye open for some of the many interesting animals, reptiles, birds and marine creatures that inhabit this unspoiled area.

Lodging Near Monkey River Village in southern Belize

One of the finest resorts in all of Belize is located just a few miles from Monkey River Village. Chabil Mar, named for a Mayan term which means “beautiful sea”, is located on the Placencia Peninsula. The resort features full-size villas, an on-site restaurant and private beach access.

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

 

Protecting Belize’s Wonderful Barrier Reef

Posted on Monday, April 11th, 2016

belize barrier reef

The mangrove-lined coasts of Belize and the magnificent coral reefs offshore are one of the country’s greatest assets. The waters are home to majestic sea turtles, hundreds of species of fish, and several species of living coral while the roots of the salt-resistant mangrove trees are an important nursery for juvenile animals. The health of this ecosystem is essential both for income from sustainable tourism as well as to protect the wildlife that call it home.

Unfortunately, many areas of the Belize Barrier Reef System have become endangered due to construction on the coast. Proposals for offshore oil drilling pose another threat. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is greatly concerned that these activities could have a significant negative impact on Belize’s environment and the more than 1,400 species that call the area home, which would have a knock-on effect on the country’s economy.

“Coral reefs are the foundation for some of the healthiest and most vibrant biosphere in the ocean, and are a huge net asset for people as well,” said Brad Ack, WWF’s Senior Vice President for Oceans. “Protecting the reefs is good for the future of the economy as well as the rich abundance of flora and fauna that require them to thrive.”

UNESCO added Belize’s coral reef biosphere on the List of World Heritage sites in Danger in 2009. Currently, 114 different World Heritage sites out of 229 in Belize are under threat from industrial activities like oil and gas drilling or mining concessions.

“Protecting the environment is simultaneously good for the economy,” said Roberto Troya, WWF’s Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. “Conserving the environment can include sustainable construction. When diverse and vibrant World Heritage sites in Belize are at risk, this just emphasizes how important it is that we be stay united in order to safeguard these critically important ecosystems.”

It is estimated that two-thirds of the population of Belize are dependent, either directly or indirectly, on the reef for their livelihood. Environmental economists have calculated that the coral reef protects the country from $350 million USD worth of damage from storms and adverse weather events every year.

Chabil Mar heartily supports this initiative and endorses the World Wildlife Fund’s efforts in this matter.

Respected Travel Author Rates Chabil Mar as Top 10 Resort in Belize

Posted on Thursday, April 7th, 2016

belize beachesLan Sluder, an accomplished writer who has contributed articles to publications like Fodor’s, The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune, as well as writing more than a dozen books on Belize, has recently named Chabil Mar as a top 10 beach resort in Belize. Having widely traveled and explored the nation of Belize, he brings unique insight into all of the best places to stay, see and eat in the country.

Chabil Mar offers accommodations in the form of villas with either one or two bedrooms. The resort is set right on the beach and features two pools with a panoramic view of the Caribbean Sea. The beachside restaurant serves up a tasty range of both local Belizean fare and American favorites. Just a short beach stroll or golf cart ride from the village, Chabil Mar provides outstanding concierge services as well as free use of kayaks and bicycles for its guests.

“Many travel writers have published articles on Belize but Lan Sluder is widely recognized as the leading authority on this country,” said Larry France, marketing manager of Chabil Mar. “It is truly an honor to have our resort named as one of the top 10 best beach resorts in the country by Lan Sluder. We welcome everyone to come visit us and see why Mr. Sluder named us as one of the best beachfront hotels in the country.”

The gated resort just 10 minutes on foot from Placencia Village was recognized by Lan Sluder as “one of the most upscale places to stay” on the peninsula in southeastern Belize. The award-winning beach resort has repeatedly been chosen by TripAdvisor and other leading global travel sites for its outstanding accommodations, beautiful location and unparalleled dedication to guest services based on glowing feedback from travelers and guests.

Translated from the Mayan language, the name Chabil Mar means “beautiful sea”, an honor that the resort earns for its gorgeous location right on the Caribbean Sea. Each villa in the resort has its own unique decor and style and contains a kitchen, air-conditioning and a washer and dryer.

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