Guide to Belize’s Nature and Wildlife Attractions
Belize is small in size and population relative to other Central American countries. But don’t let these facts lull you into thinking this country doesn’t have much to offer visitors. With a government that prioritizes the conservation of the land and its resources and locals who encourage and welcome ecological and sustainable tourism, Belize has become a popular travel destination. For those seeking nature and wildlife, here are a few of the experiences that Belize offers.
Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary
Covering approximately 150 acres in southern Belize, this sanctuary is the world’s only preserve for the endangered jaguar. The third-largest cat in the world, the jaguar is among many large cats you’ll either encounter or see signs of in the preserve, including, pumas, ocelots, and jaguarundi. You are sure to spot several of the more than 300 species of birds that also make the preserve their home. The trails in the preserve are well-maintained and make it easy for hikers of any fitness level to explore the lush vegetation, numerous creeks and streams, and hidden Mayan ruins.
Hol Chan Marine Reserve
Recognizing the importance of the barrier reef ecology, the Belize government established this reserve to protect its unique marine habitats. The area provides unparalleled diving and snorkeling opportunities not found anywhere else in the world. Due to the reserve’s protected status, you’ll have the chance to see over 160 species of fish, 40 species of coral, 3 species of sea turtles, manatees, and dolphins. One of the reserve’s zones is particularly popular with divers because of the ability to get close to nurse sharks and stingrays.
Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary
Composed of approximately 36,479 acres, this inland sanctuary protects some of Belize’s most beautiful wetlands, lagoons, savannas and creeks. The area is home to roughly 300 species of migratory and local birds, including herons, kingfishers, parrots, hawks, woodpeckers, and raptors. The survival of some endangered species, such as the yellow-headed parrot and the Jabiru stork, depends on the protection only the sanctuary can provide. The area is a birdwatcher’s dream come true.
The Belize Zoo
It may seem odd to visit a zoo in a country ripe with wild animals. But this little zoo has managed to preserve the look and feel of the native surroundings with few fences and walking paths. The zoo has over 200 animals from 45 native species. All of the animals were rescued, orphaned, born at the zoo, or sent to the zoo from other conservation organizations. Its main purpose is to educate the public about Belize’s remarkable biodiversity and the importance of preserving it.
If you’re looking for a place to stay for your next Belize adventure, check out the Mariposa Belize Beach Resort in Placencia. Our location is ideal for day hikes in the tropical forest, exploring Maya ruins, or diving at the barrier reef. After a day of adventuring, kick back and relax at the pool, oceanside restaurant, or with an ice cold beer at our bar.