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Mar 31, 2005

Davis Falls made more accessible

Story PictureShe visited the site over three years ago, and while the magnificent waterfall in the Stann Creek District lived up to its advanced billing, getting there was another matter altogether. But you can’t stop progress–and while reaching Davis Falls is still not exactly easy, it is at least within the reach of many more Belizeans…as News 5′s Janelle Chanona found out last week.

Janelle Chanona, Reporting
With an estimated height of five hundred feet, Davis Falls in the Stann Creek valley is rated as the second highest waterfall in the country.

For the past three years, residents of the Stann Creek valley communities have pooled their resources to put Davis Falls onto Belize?s map of adventurous tourist destinations.

In 2005, the Friends of Valley Community organisation teamed up with volunteers from Trekforce Expeditions in an effort to make Davis Falls more accessible to visitors.

When News 5 journeyed to the site in February 2002, the hike was marked by tricky river crossings…quagmires of mud…and thick jungle passes.

Today, the trip to Davis Falls still requires four wheel drive even in the dry season but the newly constructed four hundred steps and nine wooden bridges make the arduous two mile hike far more enjoyable.

For the Trekforce volunteers, the vast improvements to the trail have sparked a deep sense of accomplishment.

Luke Collyer, Expedition Leader, Trekforce
?Relief. An Absolute relief. One, that we got through it absolutely unscathed. No injuries and no sort of problems. And two, a massive amount of pride, especially with the guys, cause they are the people who absolutely have done the whole thing and come up with the imaginative work as well. Cause we?re not engineers so we have to produce the ideas and problem solve on the spot so it hasn?t sunk in yet because we only finished earlier on today but it?s slowly sinking in that this whole thing is theirs.?

But for these British teenagers, adjusting to life in the bush for six weeks wasn?t easy. In addition to the heat, sleeping outside in a hammock and a rigorous routine, the volunteers got intimate with some of the local wildlifemore specifically batfly larvae.

Brent Toombs, Cameraman
?How does that feel, having a worm living in your back??

Trekker #1
?It?s quite painful at times but it doesn?t really bother me.?

To help the ?trekkers? kept their sanity, expedition leaders came up with ways to keep laughter in the air…like the creation of the colander of incompetence.

Trekker #1
?Unfortunately yesterday when I was getting some rocks up from the river for the bio-latrine I fell in the river got very wet and unfortunately I have to wear this, almost as a little backpack, all day.?

Their work at Davis Falls is just one of six projects Trekforce has been involved with to promote eco-tourism in Belize; efforts Friends of the Valley hope will translate into much needed dollars for the area.

Dwight Montero, President, Friends of the Valley Community
?More money in their pocket because what we are doing here is promoting eco-tourism and protecting the watershed and doing that we?ll definitely provide jobs for most people within the area.?

According to President of FVC, Dwight Montero, the unique characteristics of Davis Falls offer the potential to springboard the Stann Creek Valley into the top spot for eco-tourism in Belize.

Dwight Montero
?This is the only fall that you could go direct to fall and go right in the fall. If you look at the thousand foot falls you can only look down at it. But here, you can definitely get right into the fall and I?m pretty sure that this will be an attractive scenery for tourists.?

?Hard work pays off, we?ve been working with this for the last three years and it came to reality now and after Davis Falls because we have other potential sites after Davis Falls we?ll definitely go and try and get co-management for the other sites as we speak we speak we also have co-management of Swimming Pools up in Middlesex and we want to do all these sites as a package so that the tourists have a complete day visiting all these sites. So that is my dream at this point in time.?

With technical support from the Belize Tourism Board and promotional field trips to resorts on the Placencia peninsula, officials hope that one day Belizeans and visitors alike will have the opportunity to behold the wonder that is Davis Falls.

According to Friends of the Valley, the entrance fee for Davis Falls is ten dollars for international visitors while locals are two dollars each. If you are interested in visiting the area, please contact Dwight Montero or Floyd Tillett at Citrus Products of Belize Limited or the Awe and Sons store in Alta Vista Village. There is also an email address, dmontero@citrusproductsbelize.com. Having completed their work at Davis Falls, the Trekforce volunteers will spend a few days in Belize City before moving on to Guatemala to learn Spanish. Later, they will return to Belize to teach English for two months before heading home.

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