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Costa Rica - Buttons Macaw
Behind the Scenes of Costa Rica at Curu Wildlife Refuge   by Enid Glasgow

The Curu wildlife refuge is a 13-kilometer mass of tropical, dry forestland. It is part of the Tempisque Conservation area near Tambar; about an hour's commute from the loose scatter of ultra-lux Costa Rico resorts seemingly hidden within the country's waving, green hills. What little wildlife that are absent from the more gentrified areas of the country--those near extinction--can be found at Curu.

There is no doubt that visiting Costa Rica, be it the inner-city or jungle, is night and day from traditional vacations. The Bahamas is a domesticated house pet in comparison, and Tijuana--a theme-park. Instead, Curu and other tours are part of a more contemporary style of vacation, eco-tourism.

The wildlife refuge is a different breed, however; a way for novice eco-tourists to ease into the trend without any pressure to be in top physical condition or know the difference between a bowline knot or Italian hitch. The aim of Curu is not to introduce foreigners to the wildlife but, instead, to reintroduce wildlife back into their natural habitats.

The reserve rescues and protects species that would otherwise dissolve into extinction if left to fend against the devastating effects of urban sprawl. Scarlet macaws and crocodiles are just a few of the animals exclusive to the reserve. Others include capuchin and howler monkeys, agoutis, ocelots, white-tailed deer, and margays. Some winged species that populate Curu--hawks to hummingbirds to a bright and colorful spectrum of butterflies, including the morpho.

In the 1930s, Curu was acquired for 5 dollars and established by the European immigrant, Fredrico Schutt. In its current state, the reserve exists as SINAC-funded (National System of Conversation Arena) land and remains somewhat grassroots in complexity and financial backing. It is worth noting, oddly, that the wife of the late Fredrico Schutt still saunters about Curu and resides in a tiny and remote hut, absent of electricity or running water.


About the Author

Enid Glasgow is a travel writer and a regular contributor to the Caribbean Resorts World Blog. She likes to travel in the Americas and Caribbean.

Belize - The Ultimate Eco-Friendly Destination   by Justine Richards

For the ardent naturalist in search of rainforest adventure or the traveler seeking sun and surf, Belize offers luxury and first-class opportunities for a vacation set in natural splendor. The people of Belize are eager to share their magnificent landscape and its opportunities with travelers from around the world.

Belize, a tiny spot on the map on the Atlantic coast of Central America, is a remarkable country that is well-known as an eco-friendly tourist destination. Once a British colony called British Honduras, where English remains the official language, Belize became an independent country just a few decades ago in 1981. Native people originate from the Mayan culture, while descendents of colonial immigrants from England and Scotland, plus their African slaves add a global mixture to the country's melting pot. At the time of the American Civil War in the 1860's, citizens of the southern states moved to Belize to preserve their way of life and German Mennonites in Belize still live life as their ancestors did centuries ago.

The 20th century welcomed Asian and Middle Eastern newcomers to Belize. If mixing with people from culturally diverse backgrounds is what you look for as part of your travel adventure, Belize provides colorful individuals and an example of multi-cultural harmony. Upon gaining their independence the population of merely 300,000 people decided that their way of life could be preserved by fostering eco-tourism based upon the unique natural splendor of their small country, making it a premier destination for nature lovers at all levels.

Bird watchers can catch a glimpse of unique multi-colored tropical birds found nowhere else in the world and view North American birds that migrate to the forests for Belize in winter. Birders from around the globe flock to Belize for guided tours through the rainforest canopy in search of local birds, many of which are rare. Butterflies are another grand attraction in Belize and visitors are enthralled by their color and diversity.

Discerning dive enthusiasts are already aware that the reefs off the coast of Belize are home to some of the best diving opportunities on the planet. Islands, called cayes, abound that protect divers from the vagaries of open waters. The north coast of Belize is home to the premier snorkeling and diving sites Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley. Nearby coral atolls provide the clearest water with ample opportunities to view magnificent coral formations that are home to exotic fish and a natural water phenomenon called the Blue Hole.

Ancient Mayan people left glimpses of their civilization in the form of fantastic Mayan ruins that are being restored by the government. Even though Belize is a poor country compared to many other nations, the government has given priority to preserving the irreplaceable heritage of ancient people that these ruins represent. Touring these restored Mayan settlements is a marvelous experience akin to visiting the treasures of Egypt, plus the admission fees contribute to the preservation and restoration efforts.

A stop at Belize is included in Caribbean cruises that originate in the United States. But a one-day visit, while breathtaking, is certainly not enough to fully appreciate the natural splendor of this eco-friendly country, so welcoming to tourists. To experience all that Belize has to offer, stay at one of the many fine resorts and lodges that blend into the natural landscape without pretension.

Belize is the destination of choice for savvy travelers who seek to vacation in peace and natural splendor. For luxury travel in complete privacy consider renting a private island accommodation complete with experienced staff. Another option is to visit one of the newly constructed villa resorts that promise "luxury surrounded by adventure" in a lush tropical environment. Belize represents an emerging market for luxury travel; upscale travelers to five-star resorts in Belize can expect new and modern accommodations. The local cuisine represents a delightful mix of cultures and, like luxury resorts around the globe, expect fine dining at these resorts. An added bonus is that dishes are made from the finest of fresh products available in a tropical setting.

The new luxury resorts are situated on the coast where sandy beaches provide added attraction. Travelers who wish to partake of all the natural splendor of Belize may prefer to stay at eco-friendly inland resorts. While not five-star resorts like the ocean-front properties, these resorts offer excellent accommodations, meals and service in complete harmony with the natural surroundings. Guests at these properties can enjoy an early morning bird watching expedition or an afternoon dip in a private pool under the rainforest canopy.

No matter the preference, for an oceanfront luxury resort or a first-class eco-friendly destination, Belize ranks high among the world's best-kept travel secrets.


About the Author

Justine has been a journalist for 20 years and is a contributor to Just The Planet, the online luxury travel magazine for independent travellers.


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