The Cayo District Sights



Chalillo Lake Review

Chalillo Lake was created in late 2005 by the controversial damming of the Macal River for an electric power plant owned by the Canadian power company, Fortis. Since then, two other dams have been completed. The original 150-foot-high dam with a span width of 420 feet, along with its sisters, destroyed a habitat for endangered species such as the scarlet macaw and was opposed by environmentalists in Belize and around the world. How many unexplored Mayan sites were flooded is anyone's guess. The lake extends some 12 mi (20 km) along the Macal and Raspacula river valleys. The dams are still controversial, and some in Cayo and elsewhere blame the dams for deteriorating water quality in the Macal and sediment in the river, along with loss of wildlife habitat. At present the reservoir has limited recreational uses of interest to visitors. However, some lodges in Cayo are now developing boat trips on the lake. For example, Hidden Valley Inn, in association with EcoQuest Expeditions, has a tour that includes a motorized skiff tour of Chalillo Lake and the Raspaculo and Upper Macal rivers. The Lodge at Chaa Creek also is developing a pontoon boat trip on the lake. In 2011, the Belize government re-nationalized the Fortis-owned Belize Electricity Ltd. power company.

Updated: 08-30-2013

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