Belize is an extraordinary country, with several “worlds” for visitors to explore. The cayes (pronounced “keys”) hold the wonders of the barrier reef for scuba divers, snorkelers and fishermen.
The mainland contains miles of jungle that feature wildlife, rivers, caves and mountains. Belize travelers have an opportunity to find many adventures that suit their interests, and water-based tours and activities can easily be arranged from mainland resorts and hotels. Here are some of Belize’s natural treasures.
Community Baboon Sanctuary
Located 30 miles northwest of Belize City, Community Baboon Sanctuary was founded in 1958 to protect the black howler monkey, locally known as the “baboon”. The monkey is an endangered species found in Belize, southern Mexico, and isolated areas of Guatemala. A visitor center at the 20-square mile sanctuary features an educational jungle exhibit.
Hiking trails crisscross the sanctuary. Guided trail walks allow visitors to experience monkeys up close. Canoe trips down the river to see monkeys, birds, and other wildlife such as iguanas, crocodiles, anteaters and turtles can be arranged at the visitor center.
Started in 1983, when Sharon Matola adopted 17 animals left behind by a film crew, the zoo moved to its current quarters on Mile 29 of the Western Highway in 1991. Today there are 150 birds, mammals, and reptiles, all species indigenous to Belize. The zoo allows travelers to get memorable photos of the jaguar, tapir, scarlet macaw and jabiru stork. Mesh and wood enclosures resemble the animals’ natural habitat. A special attraction is watching the morning feeding.
Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary (Jaguar Preserve)
The sanctuary and forest reserve is located in southern Belize, near Dangriga, below the Maya Mountains’ Cockscomb Range. About 150 square miles are set aside to protect the jaguar population, as well as other plant and animal species. The reserve is also home to 290 species of birds. Just inside the gate is the Mayan Center, with slate carvings, baskets and other craft items for sale.