Fallen Stones Butterfly Farm
A roller-coaster road takes you up to one of the first and most successful butterfly farms in Belize, perched on the side of a hill overlooking the Columbia Forest Reserve, beyond the Maya site of Lubaantun which inspired the farm's name.
Built in 1992 by two British butterfly experts -- Clive Farrell, who created the Shipstern Nature Reserve in northern Belize, and Ray Harberd, who spent a former life in tropical agriculture -- the construction work itself was an amazing feat! Having converted a mile and a half of muddy track into a road, and hauled building supplies up into the jungle, Ray then quickly established one of the most successful butterfly breeding programmes in the country, and one which was recognised with the Shell Technology for Development Award in 1995.
Today, a steep hike down the stone steps and then a jungle trail, takes you to the Farm, which has 12 breeding cages with up to 8,000 butterflies, and employs 11 local staff from the village of San Pedro Columbia. The pupae are flown each week by Tropic Air to Belize City, and then onward by international courier to the UK for worldwide distribution.
The butterfly exhibits supplied by Fallen Stones' pupae are an important tool in the education of the public not only about butterflies, but about conservation in general. 60% of insect species are dependent on the world's fast-disappearing rainforests, and during the 20th Century numerous butterfly species became extinct. When their environment is under stress, butterflies are the first to suffer and disappear, so are a highly sensitive indicator of environmental health.
Clive recently summed it up, when recently receiving an award, by saying “Making butterfly spotting accessible gets people in touch with nature. Butterflies are essential indicators of the health of the environment, as well as being beautiful and quite wonderful to watch.." Clive is the originator of the butterfly house concept, and you can learn more about his latest project at the Butterfly-World.org website, or from an article in the UK Guardian newspaper.
Fallen Stones Butterfly Farm is NOT open to the public, but guests of Hickatee Cottages are able to view this fascinating operation by accompanying Ian to his 'other' job as the local manager of the Farm on a Friday afternoon. This is NOT a tour -- it is a visit to a working farm which is a commercial operation. We do not make any charge for the visit, although if you feel it is merited then please consider a tip for whichever member of the butterfly farm staff shows you round the operation (no more than US$5 per person).
The visit is available to guests staying on a Thursday AND Friday night on a 'first-come first-served' basis, and is subject to good weather conditions. Maximum 4 guests.
The hillside is steep and the walk requires a reasonable level of fitness, and sturdy footwear. We ask guests to dress modestly, and NOT to wear ANY bug spray which is fatal for the butterflies.
Do it yourself! A visit to the Butterfly Farm combines well with a PG market-Lubaantun trip. Visit PG market on a Friday morning for a traditional Belizean breakfast of fryjack, beans, and plantain at Mar's "Eb-n-ezer" cafe in the market, and then catch the 11am San Miguel / Silver Creek bus. The Bus Driver will drop you off at the entrance road to Lubaantun - around a 15 minute walk. Ian will then meet you at the Lubaantun car park at a pre-agreed time for your journey to Fallen Stones.
Some more photos of Fallen Stones Butterfly Farm ...