What is it about the Macal River Camp that people find so attractive? Our staff.
Some say it’s the chance to experience unspoiled nature away from noise, light, or any other type of pollution. For others, it’s the exotic wildlife that calls the surrounding jungle home. Other guests highlight the warm glow of kerosene lamps while relaxing after a day of exploring and actually talking with each other without the interruptions and distraction of phones, tablets and those other devices that seem to demand more and more of our attention.
But one thing everyone seems to agree upon is how much they enjoy the conversation, cooking and company of our staff – the camp’s manager and his family. And when you consider all the other attributes of the Camp, that’s high praise indeed.
Not that it surprises us. Docio and Francelia Juarez have been the heart and soul of the Camp since its inception some 23 years ago, and when son Ariel joined the team eleven years ago, the family circle was complete.
The Juarez clan are true locals, hailing from the lovely little village of Cristo Rey across the river from the camp, and if there’s anything Docio doesn’t know about Belize – the bush, wildlife, flora, medicinal plants, Maya history and pretty much anything, we’ve yet to find out.
And the beauty is, he’s more than happy to share his knowledge, along with anecdotes and stories, all told with warmth and humour. Yes, Docio is one of those rare and wonderful people who immediately finds the good in people and brings it out. You know that expression, “There are no strangers – just friends I haven’t met?” That’s Docio.
His wife Francelia is just as warm and, man, can she cook! Just read comments on Trip Advisor or on other reviews. You may think it odd that so many people seem fixated on the camp’s home cooking, but one meal and you’ll understand why.
And proof that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree is Ariel, who started as a youth and steadily worked his way up over the last eleven years to becoming indispensable as the camp’s jack-of-all-trades, working with his mom and dad and looking after maintenance, security, housekeeping, kitchen staff, head waiter, palapa compere and… you name it, Ariel is there.
Together, the Familia Juarez make sure that the camp runs not just smoothly, but very happily, with that warm, homespun family atmosphere that has always made family owned and operated Chaa Creek more than just another eco-resort.
The Macal River Camp reflects the passion Mick and Lucy Fleming have for introducing visitors to the natural beauty that first attracted them to Chaa Creek back in 1977 when, as two young adventurers, they discovered the little bit of paradise that was to become their home.
When Chaa Creek was just a small farm with Mick and Lucy plying a dugout canoe down the Macal River to bring produce to San Ignacio markets, their homestead, like those of their neighbours, was much like the Macal River Camp is today.
Living on the banks of the Macal River, with no electricity or access in and out other than the river and a dirt track, the young couple found themselves becoming more in tune with the surrounding jungle and its many wildlife inhabitants.
“Those first years gave us an appreciation for nature that we wouldn’t have otherwise received,” Lucy remembers, “It was wonderful to start the days with the sound of the forest awakening, and go to bed surrounded by jungle murmurs broken by the occasional howler monkey. It instilled a love and appreciation for the rainforest that only grew over the years.”
Today, the Macal River Camp gives visitors the rare opportunity to enjoy the jungle as people have done for millennia…from the ancient Maya who lived here for centuries, to the early explorers, chicleros, settlers and, more recently, an adventurous young couple who pursued a dream…and invite you to share it today.