Just a half hourís drive from the international airport in Belize City you will arrive at the small village of Crooked Tree. This is the setting for a very exciting wildlife sanctuary bearing the name of the village. It is the preferred destination of birdwatchers from all over the world because of the unique species of birds that nest here including the Jabaru Stork, which is the largest flying bird in the Western Hemisphere .with a wingspan of almost 12 feet
The sanctuary contains a wide variety of interconnecting trails that will take you through a tropical forest, wetlands and different habitats giving you a birdís eye view of the countryís landscape, flora and fauna. There are many lagoons and waterways that connect so that you can travel throughout the sanctuary by boat if you prefer.
There are about 275 species of birds that are native to the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary and during the dry season thousands of them congregate along areas of shallow water where they can obtain food and drink. Although the migratory birds that spend their winters in this reserve arrive in November, the best times to visit are from February to May. These months also coincide with the times vacationers from colder climates like to take in the warmer weather of Central America and the Caribbean.
In addition to the many species of birds, visitors to this wildlife sanctuary can also have their fill of crocodiles, howler monkeys, green iguanas and freshwater turtles. There are almost 13,000 acres of inland lagoons in this area making it one where you can spend a great amount of time getting to know the birdlife of Belize.
Travelling through the sanctuary by boat is the recommended way to see what it has to offer. However, the Birdwalk, which is almost a mile long, is also perfect for those who donít have a lot of time to spend in one location and want to take in everything they can. This walkway is elevated and offers an opportunity to see a large sampling of the native wildlife and plants.
The village of Crooked Tree lies within the confines of the sanctuary. Birdwatching is the favourite activity of visitors, but this village is very well-known for its cashews. You can buy the cashews or taste cashew wine and stewed cashews. If you visit in May you will be just in time for the annual Cashew Festival, which is a colourful event complete with parades, music and dancing.
The breathtaking beauty of the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary will delight young and old and is a trip not to be missed when you visit Belize City. Frances Stafford