Reef Conservation International Ltd Belize Punta Gorda Toledo District Belize Central America
00501 603 1917
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sharklady1970AOWD79 TGs

www.reefci.com ist eine Organisation, die nicht a ...

www.reefci.com ist eine Organisation, die nicht auf Profit ausgelegt ist sondern die örtlichen Riffe schützen will, Wissen vermittelt - und dafür Tauch/-Schnorchelgänge anbietet, in Kombination mit dem Leben auf einer kleinen einsamen Insel (Tom Owen) im Süden von Belize.
Wo hat man das schon mal? Man ist immer das einzige Boot, die einzigen Taucher an den Tauchplätzen!
Polly (Gründerin) kennt sich sehr gut aus, beantwortet geduldig alle Fragen, kann auf individuelle Wünsche eingehen, gibt bei Bedarf Kurse, ist sehr sicherheitsbewusst - und ergänzt sich gut mit ihrem Mann, Roland, der Bootskapitän ist und für sein Leben gerne fischt (kann man mitgehen).
Aussderm gibt es noch ein Beachvolleyballfeld und 4 Hängematten (zum relaxen zwsichen den Tauchgängen - Bücher mitbringen!), ansonsten aber nichts auf der Insel. Essen ist gut, morgens englisch angehaucht; man macht i.d.Regel 3 Tauchgänge am Tag (ausser Mo. und Fr., da nur einen), auf Wunsch auch Nachttauchgänge. 1 Mal pro Woche gibt es einen Reef-Check-Dive.
Geeignet für Taucher, die einfach auch noch was lernen möchte und sich aktiv am Schutz des Riffes beteiligen möchten.
Viele Gorgonien, Schwämme, leider viele Feuerfische (da gibt es ein extra Projekt dazu), ansonsten Delfine, Schildkröten, Ammenhaie, Barrakudas, Parrotfish, Angelfish, Snapper, Muränen, Triggerfish, Jackfish, Butterflyfish, viele Grouper, Lobster, Conch (sorry, mikr fällt das alles nur auf englisch ein!). Habe keine großen Schwärme gesehen.

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Abra216127OWD150 TGs

My husband and I made a seven week trip to the Yu ...

My husband and I made a seven week trip to the Yucatan and Belize in November/December 2007. Here is our experience with ReefCI, a company that calls itself ecological and claims to focus on conserving the environment. Our impression was different though...

Avoid the south of Belize if you are from a colder climate, can’t stand humidity and a little stink in your clothes. It just happens – even if you wash your clothes and get them totally dry in a dryer: half a day later it’s back. South Belize gets four times more rain than the north of Belize, which can also be pretty humid during the rainy season, and we had a more rainy November than usual according to locals. For the people down there – even if they can afford it – it’s probably not worth it having a wardrobe full of clothes: They will just get mouldy. The jungle and the ocean are very impressive there and it´s worth to accept a little hardship as regards climate to experience them. But you don´t really want to come across a tour operator like ReefCI.

We had booked two weeks with ReefCI (www.reefci.com). According to their website they are a British Company, member of Reef Check, and apparently work with local organizations to have locals benefit from the tourists. On the website there are annual reports that seem to prove their scientific approach and we also met local people who were trained to become dive masters with ReefCI. Their main purpose is catering for dive tourists though. They offer weekly packages consisting of stays on Franks’ Caye (one of the Sapodilla Cayes) from Mondays to Fridays. During the weekend you can stay at their house in Punta Gorda (included), go inland to a jungle lodge of find other accommodation in PG. Pricing: The same range as for similar packages you compose yourself of accommodation and diving, anywhere in the English speaking Caribbean.
Quote: “ReefCI customers help in a variety of ways depending upon what each individual wishes to get out of the trip together with the length of stay and diving ability. Everyone contributes……just by paying for a trip helps us with our work!!! ….This is not a 5 star resort holiday but….it is a totally unique experience with 5 star diving, a diving and snorkelling paradise with a few home comforts thrown in.”
That sounded very attractive to us – the experience was certainly pretty unique, but otherwise than we had expected. What made us survive the following week were the beautiful little island, the good skills and friendly words from Andy and Heather, the two diving instructors in charge of the operation. They did their best and so did Roland, the boat Captain. The diving in the Sapodilla Cayes was superb, most of the diving equipment was ok, the larger of two compressors was broken but supposed to be repaired.
When we arrived in PG airstrip on Saturday Nov 17 we were met by Heather and taken to ReefCI house in PG. We could choose one from two tiny bedrooms as we were the first couple arriving in PG for the following week on Frank’s Caye. They were furnished very basically, and had hardly enough room to be in there with belongings. The facilities were not in very good state: The seat of the only guest toilet was broken, the only guest shower seemed pretty dirty, the whole place hadn’t seen any renovation for many years.
We decided to stick it out for the two days and to spend the following weekend either in the jungle or somewhere else. Mentioning the state of things to the diving instructors and that we were looking forward to Frank’s Caye the comment was: ”Wait till you see the island.”
Quote from the website: “Franks Caye is a beautiful, idyllic remote private island that is part of the Sapodilla group of islands. (Our guests have been known to have tears in there eyes when they first arrive!) Accommodation is in cabanas with private bathrooms or camping with all facilities available.”
Nobody can be blamed for the bad weather we had on the two-hour trip to Frank’s Caye in the dive boat, an open boat without a roof and only a small compartment for some of the luggage that wasn’t supposed to get wet. When we arrived there was heavy downpour. During weekends the only person on the Caye is a caretaker. We had to wait a bit before we could get into our cabana and were happy when we could move as we were soaked. All the more shocked we were when we got in: The place hadn’t seen any cleaning for at least a year, the bed was soaked as the window above couldn’t be closed, the shower had no warm water, hardly worked at all and the window screening had so many holes that you could have done without it. Things like torn curtains, paint coming off everywhere or broken walls are not even really worth mentioning. As far as we could see the bed sheets seemed to be clean but we didn’t really dare to look at the matrasses under them. No comment on the website about all that. We have visited many Caribbean countries and places: that was unique indeed and we had tears in our eyes!!

There are three guest cabanas. We complained and were given the only other available cabana – it was hardly better than the first one. Our mood was really down but of course there was no way of escaping, also the weather got worse for the next day or so. At nighttime – the generator is switched off at 10 or so – when you used your torch in the cabana you saw all kinds of creepy crawlies rushing into hiding. I don’t know how many cockroaches we killed there. Let me tell you we are not easily scared: there we were for health reasons.

My husband is a diving maniac when he’s got the opportunity to, so he went out diving as soon as it was offered on the arrival day. I took it up two days later when the weather had improved. We both were quite thrilled by the reef that is in a very good state as far as we could see, also none of the diving sites was further away than 10 to 15 minutes boat ride. We also were the only people diving, the other couple there during that week had no certification and didn’t plan to get one. The equipment we didn’t bring, was o.k.; the bigger one of the two existing compressors needed repair. Somebody came out with us for that, in the end he managed, but his main occupation was fishing, which was practiced by the Belizean dive trainee all the time as well, except for two dives. Andy and Heather also seemed to be wondering about that but apparently they were in no position to remind people of their duties or to spend any money to improve whatever went wrong.
We were contemplating whether to go back for the second week we had booked and paid for - you had to pay the full amount one month before your arrival there. Because of the good diving, the improved weather and the doubtless beauty of the island (size: 1.2 hectars) we decided to stick it out. The weather played dirty tricks on us though. The trip back to the mainland was worse than the way to the island.

We spent a pleasant weekend at Cottontree Lodge, and managed to get a walk-in rate despite the fact that is was the Thanksgiving weekend. Andy knew the lodge and its owner. On Sunday we went back to Coral House Inn (www.coralhouseinn.net) in PG, a nice little hotel whose owners Rick and Darla saved us from having to go back to ReefCI’s house in PG before going back to Frank’s Caye on Monday morning again.
Sunday night the weather turned really bad again. Monday morning we received a call from Heather and Andy that they couldn’t go out to Frank’s Caye because of the bad weather. The boat Captain had given his veto – as far as we were concerned we agreed to that. In the afternoon they came visiting in Coral House Inn – the journey to Frank’s Caye was in question for the whole week. Because of the weather forecast Tuesday was possible but unlikely, decision was to be made on a day-to-day basis.
That was the point we took decisions in our own hands: we decided not to go to the Caye again as we were not going to be sitting around in PG under the accommodation circumstances being. We told the dive instructors that and sent an email to Polly Wood, the founder of ReefCI, apparently the only person really in charge of what happens in that company, demanding one week’s pay back.
She refused that informing us that the company was in no position to pay any money back. However, she has offered one free stay for one week with ReefCI in the future. I have saved that email carefully away, despite the fact that it’s unlikely that we ‘ll be able get back there soon. I also doubt at this time being if ReefCI will still exist then unless customers’ concerns are looked after.

So we had a little problem: We were in PG, there was almost a week to go before we were going to leave the country and we couldn’t stay in Coral House Inn any longer as they were booked. Darla and Rick were great: They let me use their computer as much as I wanted to do research and emails, made calls for us and were very helpful in any way. As we had just been in the jungle and the ocean is more our kind of territory anyway, we had to decide where to go next. I would have been curious to see Placencia and surroundings. But in the end we opted for no more experiments and made up our minds to avoid further experiments and to spend the remaining days in Caye Caulker again if possible: relax and get some more diving in where we could be sure to find conditions suitable for us.

I am sitting at my desk and occasionally looking out of the window into a rainy, grey sky. Rather depressing….You quickly forget about the occasional heavy rains we experienced in Belize. What stays are the more dominant memories of the wonderful landscape and the good people we met there. And: I will definitely not book (and pay) anything like ReefCI again in advance. A deposit should be sufficient – any more than that and you will have to think in terms of a catch they want to hide before you have paid the full amount.
What I don’t understand: Why do reputable places like Cottontree Lodge or Hickatee Cottages in Toledo still advertise ReefCI on their websites? What ReefCI provides will do damage not only to their reputation on the long term but also to Toledo as a tourist destination.

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