To contribute to the ecological legacy of Guatemala by preserving Tzantizotz Nature Reserve. Where flora and fauna will be protected, conserved and replenished for future generations of Guatemalans, and by extension, our planet. By integrating sustainable environmental and socially responsible business practices to protect and contribute to the cultural and biological diversity of this area. To aid in the preservation of national forests and to minimize our effect on global warming. To provide a high end, low volume eco-lodge with personal attention to detail, service, and health. In balance with the appreciation of nature including the ethical treatment of animals.
By embracing environmental stewardship we hope to inspire people to choose a greener, healthier and more peaceful lifestyle. We provide luxury accommodations and services with high levels of sustainability while not compromising quality, comfort and service.
Our cuisine reflects an increasing awareness that the growing and consumption of food affects many other systems. Collective food choices have a major impact on our personal health, environmental quality, and on the welfare of animals grown for food. We serve sustainable, predominantly native, organic meat-free cuisine.
During the creation of our eco-lodge we have been influenced by sustainable, ecological, environmental and social principles. Reflecting local and national heritage our designs and use of indigenous materials blend both traditional and contemporary ideas.
Energy Conservation - Lightning. Heating . Cooling
Laguna Lodge is completely off the grid, we produce 100% of our own power from renewable energy, we have a thin film solar panel array, the most modern type of solar panel technology.
Energy saving led and compact fluorescent/low wattage bulbs, solar garden lights, solar security lights. Solar hot water heating. Natural lighting through large windows.
The fireplace is fueled with naturally fallen brush wood found on the reserve. Natural ventilation through air flow from large opening windows, high ceilings and natural building materials.
Rainy season planting. Watering in the early morning or late afternoon. Landscaped with edible plants, bananas, papayas, coffee and large hardy succulents. Grey water goes to the garden. Rain water is collected in rainy season for drinking. Sheets and towels are changed every three days unless otherwise requested. Water pressure reduction for water saving. Modern toilets set at low water levels and have half flush option.
Rain and lake water is put through modern filters then ultra violet light and reverse osmosis for processing drinking water with regular filter changes and maintenance.
More info on water consumption and pollution in meat production
More info on Water Cycles
More info on the United Nations Report and Tina Volpe on Al Gore
Other Energy Conservation
Solar pump for water supply. Natural gas stoves. Pressure cookers. Grow our own organic food and purchase as many items as possible locally and then nationally before internationally. Sheets are sun dried when possible. Lawns cut with manual mowers. Batteries are rechargeable. Sports activities are low impact. Our boats use efficient 4 stroke motors. Most of our employees arrive by foot. Staff are trained to reduce, reuse and recycle.
Tsampoj Organic Gardens
Vegetables, salad greens, fruits and herbs are organically grown in the hotels extensive gardens as are many of the roses and other ornamental plants used in the hotel. Vegetables, salads and fruits are picked fresh daily by our gardeners.
Seasonal with local provenance. Lacto-ovo, natural, wild crafted and organic
More info on uneconomical use of land in animal farming
Guatemala Energy Source Statistics
Fossil Fuel 26.42
Reduced Use of Plastic
Favor natural materials. Refillable dispensers and containers. Water bottles may be refilled with purified water. Filtered water in rooms and served in the restaurant. Seedlings are grown in reused cardboard containers. Plastic bags reused and kept to a minimum. Bulk purchasing to reduce packaging.
Other Sustainable Materials
Natural locally produced unbleached cotton towels. Hand woven local wool blankets, happy goose down duvets and pillows. Vegan hypoallergenic bedding and pillows. Hand blown recycled glass and stoneware. Bamboo table mats. Stainless steel kitchen utensils, appliances and equipment. Individual re-usable cotton hand towels in public bathrooms. Reduced use of paper napkins in favor of cloth napkins in the restaurant. E-mail communications. Reduced printing. Paper is printed on both sides and recycled. Blackboards /white boards for daily information.
More info on Health Impacts of Meat Consumption
Non toxic biodegradable phosphate and chlorine free detergents and natural cleaning agents are used through out the lodge. Smoke and fragrance free rooms, unscented candles. Natural and organic toiletries and spa range. Bathroom tissue is unbleached. Towels and flannels are unbleached. Unbleached paper used for printing and writing. Linseed oil and water based varnish used for wood preservation. Finishing materials are low/zero voc and are lead free. Spa pool is cleansed with copper and natural minerals. Swimming pool is cleansed with silver/copper and ultra violet filter. Landscaping and organic food production using natural insecticides, mulch and compost. Natural foods without preservatives, emulsifiers, artificial colours or flavours are served.
More info on Chemical use in Farming
Reusable bags, wooden and cardboard boxes are used to bring supplies. Bulk buying and emphasis on fresh unpackaged produce. Food waste is composted for the garden and other recyclable waste is separated into plastics, paper, metal and glass bins then taken to re-cycling centres. Un-recyclable waste is buried on our land to prevent burning in municipal dumps. Used engine oil and cooking oils go to a bio-diesel project.
Fly screens in food preparation areas. Natural fruit extract controls insects. Relocation of larger insects and animals.
Ecological, Renewable & Recycled Materials
Adobe clay is quarried and adobe bricks handmade at the lodges organic gardens. Cane is harvested there also. Trees cut on our land for construction are fast growing pine or cypress and are replanted in greater quantities. Other wood is from sustainable forestry. Stones washed down from the mountains in the flooding of 2005 were purchased from our neighbour and carried to Laguna Lodge. Local wood fired bricks, tiles and slate. Palm and bamboo are from sustainable plantations on the pacific coast. Reed mats are bought locally. Recycled wood has been reclaimed from old constructions. Antiques have been used in most areas. Recycled glass, and ceramics are also used.
We purchase from environmentally conscious service providers. Local indigenous have been commissioned or have supplied us with antiques, carvings, wooden furnishings, intricate weavings, and paintings. They have provided other services such as the sewing of curtains, carpentry, cushions, and supply of thatch and reed matting. We support an organic co-op and permaculture project and many of our foods are from individual suppliers. Local woman are encouraged to visit and sell their weavings directly to our guests. The lodge was constructed by local indigenous.
An interpretation room can be visited before going on the nature reserve, entrance is free to indigenous from Santa Cruz. In work time staff receive information on ecologically sustainable concepts, visit the interpretation room and study our web site. Notices are posted in staff areas as reminders to reduce-reuse-recycle. We arrange for various speakers to give health protection talks on topics such as dental hygiene and the damage poorly placed gold fillings cause. Family Planning information is available for staff who are interested.
We employ 100% indigenous staff including managerial and provide long term employment with opportunities for personal and professional development in the fields of construction, organic gardening, reserve management, managerial, culinary and other services within the hotel. We encourage the use of traditional clothing and the use of native language between staff to preserve local tradition. Staff walk to work from the local village of Santa Cruz La Laguna.
Laguna Lodge's Private Nature Reserve - Tzantizotz
Laguna Lodge protects over 100 acres of bio-diverse land which is home to endemic bird species including the endangered belted flycatcher. Our nursery grows seedlings which are planted with an emphasis on native endemics. All proceeds from admissions are put back into the reserve for the maintenance of trails, limiting the spread of invasive species, training of nature guides and protecting and preserving flora and fauna.
Admission: Hotel guests: Complimentary
Indigenous from Santa Cruz La Laguna: Complimentary
Tzantizotz nature reserve is a member of ARNPG (Association of Private Nature Reserves of Guatemala). Protected Areas - Guatemala has 44 legally protected areas with 60 more under study. The Lake Atitlan basin is a multi use protected area. Through SIGAP (The Guatemalan System of Protected Areas) and CONAP (The National Council of Protected Areas)
More info on deforestation and global warming caused by cattle ranching
More info on Cattle Ranching and Loss of Top Soil
Eye Aid Project
Due to poverty and lack of educational and medical infrastructure indigenous peoples lack resources to know what is causing and how to obtain help for their illness. Encountered are cases of cataracts and other eye diseases which cause pain and partial to complete blindness. We explain the options available and arrange family involvement, appointments, transportation, and after care. Obras Sociales de Hermano Pedro hospital in Antigua facilitates the work of American surgeon Doctor John Cheatham and the Mathis foundation. The facility has the latest equipment and well qualified doctors and nurses administering treatment. In most cases the persons sight is restored and they can once again leave their homes in which they have sat blind, in some cases for years.
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We host a yearly group of approximately 15-20 dentists from the USA who treat hundreds of local indigenous with a variety of dental problems. This is free to anyone who needs help. We co-ordinate and oversee after care.
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Lodge staff do lakeshore projects such as trail maintenance and rubbish collecting.
Carbon Offset by Reforestation & Meat Abstinence
Native trees are seeded in our nursery and planted on the reserve. Planting of trees as a means of carbon off set is available for guests and visitors. In green season trees can be purchased and planted by our gardeners. Guests coming to Laguna Lodge will have contributed to the conservation of Guatemalan flora, fauna, air, water, and soil. By this reduced carbon footprint a contribution to the battle against global warming is made.
Cow 'emissions' more damaging to planet than CO2 from cars
December 11, 2006 - A United Nations report has identified the world’s rapidly growing herds of cattle as the greatest threat to the climate, forests and wildlife. And they are blamed for a host of other environmental crimes, from acid rain to the introduction of alien species, from producing deserts to creating dead zones in the oceans, from poisoning rivers and drinking water to destroying coral reefs.
The 400-page report by the Food and Agricultural Organisation, entitled Livestock’s Long Shadow, also surveys the damage done by sheep, chickens, pigs and goats. But in almost every case, the world’s 1.5 billion cattle are most to blame. Livestock are responsible for 18 per cent of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming, more than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together.
Burning fuel to produce fertiliser to grow feed, to produce meat and to transport it - and clearing vegetation for grazing - produces 9 per cent of all emissions of carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas. And their wind and manure emit more than one third of emissions of another, methane, which warms the world 20 times faster than carbon dioxide.
Livestock also produces more than 100 other polluting gases, including more than two-thirds of the world’s emissions of ammonia, one of the main causes of acid rain.
Ranching, the report adds, is “the major driver of deforestation” worldwide, and overgrazing is turning a fifth of all pastures and ranges into desert. Cows also soak up vast amounts of water: it takes a staggering 990 litres of water to produce one litre of milk.
Wastes from feedlots and fertilisers used to grow their feed overnourish water, causing weeds to choke all other life. And the pesticides, antibiotics and hormones used to treat them get into drinking water and endanger human health.
The pollution washes down to the sea, killing coral reefs and creating “dead zones” devoid of life. One is up to 21,000sqkm, in the Gulf of Mexico, where much of the waste from US beef production is carried down the Mississippi.
The report concludes that, unless drastic changes are made, the massive damage done by livestock will more than double by 2050, as demand for meat increases.
End of UN Report
Flora & fauna
The biological kingdoms of temperate North America and tropical South America converge in Central America and the two largest oceans on the planet are separated thus creating extraordinary biological diversity with one of the richest life systems on Earth. Guatemala with its extreme geographically and varying altitudes has plant and animal species in 14 specific life zones. 14% of these are found nowhere else in the world.
It is also home to the Earth's richest flora with an estimated 8,000 species of vascular plants.
Flora of Atitlan
Tropical dry forest, coniferas and latifoliadas, rain and cloud forests, mixed forest, with 798 plant species of which 61 are endemic. 160 of these are flowering plants. Oak, cedar, pine, conifer, chaparral, avocado, jicote, matasano, kapok, wild fig, acacia, alder, chichicaste, guachipilin, palo de la cruz, palo de jiote, ceibillo, castilian cane, water reeds, Bromiliad and epiphyte such as fern and orchid. The cacti, agave, maguey, nopal, pitahaya, and tuna.
Guatemala has over 214 species of reptiles of these 12 are endemic. (17 turtle, 3 crocodile, 75 lizard and 119 snake). 113 species of amphibians of which 4 are endemic. ( 2 caecilian, 33 salamander, 77 frog, and 1 toad). 250 species of mammals including marine mammals of which 4 are endemic. 669 species of birds of which 5 are endemic and 134 migratory birds. Guatemala has 220 species of fresh water fish of which 30 are endemic. 808 species of fauna, many of which are endemic are in danger of extinction. 130 of these are in noted in The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.(CITIES)
Fauna of Atitlan
The regions rich and unique biodiversity includes 116 species of reptiles and amphibians of which 12 species are endemic.141 species of mammals of which 7 are endemic. Puma, squirrel, pig, deer, deer mouse, margay, gray fox, armadillo, spider monkey, opossum, bat, coatimundi, tecuazine, central american ring tail, northern racoon, kinkajou, rabbit, coyote, weasel, skunk, and otter cat.
Birds of Atitlan
236 bird species of which 12 species are endemic. This area is a key migrational corridor for neotropical migratory birds as well as a refuge for resident endangered species such as the resplendent quetzal and the horned guan. Many migrants such as the hummingbird, tanager, and oriole are essentially tropical having originally evolved in the neotropics and only later extending their range into North America in search of food and better nesting grounds. Other birds include the pink-headed warbler, yellow warbler, brown-backed solitaire, blue-throated toucanet, azure-rumped tanager, pied-billed grebe, ruddy duck, american widgeon and american coot, red-tailed hawk, melodious blackbird, brown pelican, yellow-throated tiger heron, southern house wren, clay colored robin, buffy-fronted wood partridge, wild pigeon, common raven, baltimore oriole, blue-gray tanager, rufous collared sparrow, brown capped vireo, little hermit hummingbird, golden-fronted woodpecker, chestnut-sided shrike vireo, white - bellied emerald hummingbird, thicket tinamou, fulvous owl, singing quail, grey-necked wood-rail, anhinga, northern jacana, seagull, kingfisher and road runner.
Fish of Lake Atitlan
Mojarra are native to the lake. Tilapia and silver carp were introduced as were the predatory largemouth black bass in 1958 which caused a reduction of the native fish population and led to the extinction of the giant grebe. Crabs and shellfish are found along the shores.
More info on species extintion
There are 12 million people in Guatemala of which nearly half are of Maya descent. There are 21 Maya ethnic groups, Xinca, Garafuna, and Ladino. Positioned around the lake are 12 indigenous villages. Laguna Lodge Nature Reserve is situated in the municipal of the village of Santa Cruz La Laguna. The municipal has the village of Santa Cruz, the aldea of Tzununa and six caserios including Hibalito under its jurisdiction. The population is approximately 3,000 persons, mainly indigenous Maya Kaqchikel and few Ladino. The village is situated high up on a mountain slope approximately 100 meters higher than lake level and within walking distance from the hotel. Originally the village was in the valley below before flooding caused a move to higher ground. The village is one of the most isolated on the lake as there is no road access and it can only be reached by boat or foot. There is a small road from the main dock to the village used by two vehicles to carry supplies. Agriculture is the principal economic activity. Black beans, maize, and squash are grown for local consumption, while citrus, avocado, and coffee are mainly sold in Panajachel or Sololá.
Chickens are kept by some households. Fish and crab from the lake are caught by the local fishermen and the excess sold in the local market. There is a small cottage industry of weaving and sewing. Dry goods such as soap, rice, beans, snack foods and drinks are supplied by small shops or the front window of a home. Adobe is produced for construction. Most of the houses are made from adobe and have metal roofs with earthen floors while cement blocks are increasingly being used. The Maya Kaqchikel live on the northern side of the lake and speak Kaqchikel one of 21 Mayan languages. In the Mayan book of creation the Popul Vuh, the Kaqchikel lineage are called the Bat House, the bat motif is still seen in traje. The women of Santa Cruz wear traditional tops (huipiles) and long wrap around skirts (cortes) a shawl (perraje) and a headband (tzutes). As Santa Cruz is a poor community there clothing is simple in design. Most women weave their own huipiles and perrajes using the colors and designs of Santa Cruz. The huipiles are red and embroidered with geometric shapes on the back and a small collar of embroidery around the neck. The cortes are dark blue or black joined with a colorful seam. Inhabitants are poor, health services are minimal, and illiteracy is as high a 70%.
Traditional cultural identity is strong. The areas geographic location and the past political situation has allowed relatively slow modernization however western styles and ideas are being progressively incorporated by the younger generation. Due to Spanish colonialism Christianity was forced upon them. Religion plays a large part in the village with large followings in catholic, protestant and evangelical churches. Mayan traditional beliefs are immersed with the Christian belief system. On the plaza there is a colonial church built in the 16th Century, dedicated to Santa Helena of the Cross, the town’s patroness. Spanish is taught in schools and is the national language. Due to lack of schooling some indigenous do not speak Spanish and many only have a basic understanding of it. Boat services are owned by locals from Santa Cruz. Expatriates contribute to the village economy by providing employment in construction and within the hotels and houses. Tourism is increasing and aid projects are growing with this exposure.
About the Owners
Guatemalan hospitality, ethnic diversity, coupled with its magnificent natural scenery and biological richness encouraged Mayah & Jeffro to invest their time and energy into Tzampoj organic gardens, Laguna Lodge and Tzantizotz Nature Reserve. Since 1999 they have been acquiring land in this area and the reserve now goes from lakeside in four areas to the top of the mountains with primary forest, encompassing over 100 acres of land.
Using sustainable organic techniques they have planted an area with fruit trees and coffee. Where primary forest is intact it is preserved in its natural state. Other parts of the land are being progressively reforested with native trees. Parts of the land will be accessible by solar electric vehicle. Interest in living sustainably and in foods to create wellness led them to work with nature to create organic gardens and grow the lodge's own produce. The produce helps supply the lodge’s restaurant. They conceived and created the eco-lodge, personally designing, engineering and decorating while construction was done by local indigenous. They see nature and culture as an asset to be protected and respected by sustainable tourism. For some years now they have been pleased to contribute to the economy of Santa Cruz La Laguna, training and employing local Mayans to fulfil professional roles in many areas of expertise.
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Telephone - Guatemala (502) 40668135
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