Belize’s sparse human population and history of relatively low-key human impact have yielded a vast diversity of wildlife. Not to mention, the country has an admirable conservation agenda, pursued by governments and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Central America’s pocket of paradise is blessed with boisterous wildlife; from majestic whale sharks and emerald-hued iguanas to towering jabiru storks. Here’s how to experience the best of Belize’s wildlife, where an experience awaits everyone.
JABIRU STORKS – Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary
WHALE SHARKS – Gladden Spit Marine Reserve
SCARLET MACAWS – Red Bank Village
During November to March in the modest Maya Village of Red Bank, scan blooming treetops for Belize’s rare, and raucous, feathered kaleidoscopes: The Scarlet Macaw. Their electric crimson plumage contrasts yellow and blue tail-feathers, making them an unmistakable and unparalleled bird to witness in the wild.
NURSE SHARKS & STING RAYS – Shark Ray Alley
For a wild – but wholesome – encounter with toothy predators, don your mask and snorkel to Shark Ray Alley in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Just off the southern tip of Ambergris Caye, get up close with inquisitive nurse sharks and soaring southern stingrays.
ANTILLEAN MANATEES – Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary
Conveniently located just seven miles from Belize City, admire these also called gentle giants grazing on meadows of seagrass in the shallow waters of Swallow Caye. While it’s illegal to interfere with manatees, watching these charismatic creatures frolic and playfully surface for a breath is an experience in its own.
JAGUARS, PUMAS & MORE – Rio Bravo Conservation Area
Belize’s elusive five wildcats are dispersed throughout the country, but heading north to Programme for Belize gets you prime pickings with luck to see the gorgeously rosetted Jaguar and Margay, or rust-colored Puma. Besides, you’re guaranteed a curious deer and iridescently-colored ocellated turkey within this huge protected area, encompassing a 100,000-hectare cloak of tropical rainforest.
HOWLER MONKEYS – Community Baboon Sanctuary
These vocal primates – the Black Howler Monkeys – are charming and much louder than their size, but can be best seen at the sanctuary outside Belize City where more than 2,000 are protected. After all, this is urban wildlife spotting at its best in Belize!
GREEN IGUANAS – San Ignacio Resort Hotel
The highly interactive, on-site experience of San Ignacio Resort Hotel’s Green Iguana Conservation Project puts the life cycle and conservation efforts in participatory action of this endangered species. Embrace mingling and feeding these timid lizards their release into the wild.
RED-FOOTED BOOBY BIRDS – Half Moon Caye Natural Monument
Traverse into the thicket of orange-flowered Ziricote trees of Half Moon Caye, home to the only thriving nesting colony of the rare white-phase Red-footed Booby in the Caribbean. In the heart of the colony, guests can admire their stark white body contrast against candy-red webbed feet and an aqua-hued face.