The International Ecotourism Society defines ecotourism as:
Providing positive experiences for both visitors and hosts
As soon as we saw this beautiful spot, we were hooked. The 100-acre property was for sale, and our vision of making an eco-village near this creek got its start right then. Our idea was to have a place where people could live in community with other like-minded people with a commitment to living a lifestyle that reduces our carbon footprint, harmonizing with the local ecosystem within a sustainable structure, and contributing something positive to the surrounding environment and nearby community. We, the owners, are from Chico, California, USA. Some of us have chosen to live here all year round, and the rest of us consider Belize our second home, and get to spend a few months each year at Hummingbird Lodge.
We are very proud of the many ways we’ve reduced our footprint. At the moment we have environmentally friendly solar power, a well providing clean water for our facilities, organic fruit trees and gardens, on-demand hot water, bio-digesting/methane producing toilets, and waste reduction/recycling of solid waste. We learned a lot while researching low-impact living, and this project is still very much in process. Originally we didn’t come here with the idea of starting an ecotourism lodge, but that idea grew after we got to know our good friends at Trek Stop in Cayo. In many ways, we have modeled our place after theirs. We love their combination of simple living with accessibility to nature and activities, and a very friendly environment where travelers can meet and socialize with other travelers from all over the world.
Building environmental and cultural awareness and respect
Within the 10-acre farm boundaries, we are currently developing specific functional sites for waste management, soil enhancement, composting, plant nurseries, alternative power production, aquaculture projects, etc. Visitors are free to visit these sites along with escorted jungle hikes to remote waterfalls on the 90-acre preserve.
We cater to international and local school groups or interns and professionals who are seeking a site for tropical biological and geological studies, permaculture development studies, pharmacological training, wilderness survival training, and much-needed health clinic outreach and community health education.
Providing financial benefits and empowerment for local people
We are as passionate about people as we are about the Earth. Community and helping others means a lot to us, and we strive to make a difference in the community of local people who have come to be our friends. Our friendship with the nearby village of Saint Margaret’s has led some of us to form a non-profit organization (NGO) called Doroteia Pathways Foundation. The Doroteia Belize Scholarship Fund started in 2005 to raise funds to send the top two students from St. Margaret’s Village elementary school to attend high school. Since then, the project has not stopped growing. Those first two students successfully graduated from high school in 2009, two more graduated in 2010, and three graduated this year. Some of our students now have gone on to college. Doroteia is currently providing educational assistance to 12 high school students and five college students in Belize.
In addition to our work in education, Doroteia has collaborated with Project SAVE of Chico, California, to send two 20-foot cargo containers of medical equipment and supplies to clinics and hospitals in Belize and Guatemala. Doroteia has enabled the community of Benque, Belize, to create a much-needed clinic where there had been none, and Belmopan Hospital was able to open up another operating room with the equipment we brought in. Doroteia is currently raising funds to send another 40-foot container of medical equipment and supplies, to be shared between clinics and hospitals in Belize and Guatemala.
We have also formed a liaison with Five Blues Lake National Park, a unique karst system geological site within a few miles of Hummingbird Lodge, to promote park interest and the local tour guide association.