This guide explores the most popular state reserves, covering all the main
habitats, from all areas of the country - from spectacular Toledo District to
the forest highlands of Mountain Pine Ridge, to the stunningly coloured coral
of the reef, atolls and cayes.
|"Welcome to Belize!"
It's written for Belizeans and visitors alike, and keeps all types of budgets in
mind, whether you're out for the weekend, a back packer wanting to
experience the real thing on a shoestring, or a retiree looking for a guided
tour in air conditioned comfort.
Jump on the bus, hitch a ride, sign up for a tour, step onto a boat or get in
your car. Just get out and enjoy the nature of Belize!
Click here for maps of Belize and Ambergris Caye
Click here for a large (139k) map of Belize, with many parks and roads marked
Belize National Parks, Natural Reserves, & Wildlife Sanctuaries
Bacalar Chico /
Bird Sanctuaries /
Burdon Canal Nature Reserve /
Blue Hole National Park /
Great Blue Hole, Lighthouse Reef /
Chiquibul National Park and Caracol /
Cockscomb Wildlife Sanctuary /
Columbia River Forest Reserve /
Community Baboon Sanctuary /
Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary /
Five Blues Lake National Park /
Glover's Reef Marine Reserve / Guanacaste National Park /
Half Moon Caye Natural Monument /
Hol Chan Marine Reserve /
Laughing Bird Caye /
Marco Gonzales /
Mexico Rocks /
Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve /
Payne's Creek National Park /
Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area /
Shark Ray Alley /
Shipstern Nature Reserve /
Turneffe Atoll /
|8 New Parks for San Pedro|
San Pedro is about to enjoy a full dose of new and renovated parks for the enjoyment of all.
Marco Gonzales Park will get a suspended bridge to cross visitors from the lake at the west to the site. There will be resting areas with palapas, garbage cans, and signs.
Mar De Tumbo Park will be much renovated from nothing to parking area, five palapas, barbecue facilities, trash bins and lighting.
Esmeralda Park (by the library) will boast several palapas, trash bins, barbecue facilities, lighting, a study area for elementary school children, and a permanent area for craft vendors.
Central Park will carry a giant size palapa with permanent counters, storage for ice and lots of landscaping. It will also boast good garbage bins, beach volleyball court, smaller round palapas, a jungle gym, a bell structure as was 25 years ago, more games, 2 dressing rooms for shows, 3 bathrooms, and covering over stage. The basketball court will be removed and re-located.
Boca Del Rio Park is now completely filled with sand and it will have new sea games, barbecue pits, a basketball concrete court, beach volleyball sand court, bleachers for sports, jungle gym and several palapas and at least one-bathroom. Proper lighting will make the complements to this park.
Paradise Park (new on lot in front of the cemetery) this park will have a brand new basketball concrete court to be combined for volleyball and tennis by seasons, lots of bleachers and good lighting. This park may serve for shows, pageants, etc., as it will be permanently enclosed with fence and a movable stage at hand.
Mangrove Park in the San Juan area will be a natural park where proper lighting and maintenance will be available.
San Pedrito Park will carry a jungle gym with games, lots of sand fill and good lighting. If more land is available, a sports court will be constructed.
Hon. Patty Arceo is happy and enthusiastic with this project which mill bring much happiness, relaxation and entertainment to the people of San Pedro. Some of these will be completed before the year is out and others will continue during the year 2000 as part of our new millenium accomplishments.
HINTS & TIPS
WHAT YOU'LL SEE & WHAT YOU WON'T
TV has given up as
incredible close up of tropical life, but Belize is the real thing, not a studio.
Most mammals are shy, well camouflaged or nocturnal. And while its true
that Belize has over 540 species of birds, most live high in the forest and are
hard to see, let alone identify. Most amphibians are only heard a few nights a
year. Lizards move quickly and will have normally scuttled off before you see
them. The same goes for snakes. So..
GIVE YOURSELF A CHANCE
Choose the more open sites to begin
exploring like Crooked Tree and the reef. Then head into the forest. Go in
small groups, in silence and walk very softly. Stop and wait to see what's
moving around. The time of day is important. Birds especially are more
active around dawn (5am9am and dusk (5pm-6:30pm). Getting to the forest
at these times isn't always easy, especially if you're traveling by bus, so its
to overnight at reserves. With a good torch, explore trails at night and you
may get the odd pair of eyes staring back at you. if possible, use the services
of a local licensed guide, who will be able to take you to the best places,
remembering that if you're taken to nesting sites, manatee holes or other
sensitive areas, make sure you never disturb the animals. And in the end, if
you don't see the animals themselves, always keep an eye open for
footprints, scrapes, and other signs of life. Then if all else fails, go to the Zoo.
WHAT TO WEAR
The most effective and environmentally friendly form of
insect repellent is clothing. Dark colours don't attract insects as much and
are better camouflage for you. It sound so obvious but shorts are not a good
idea in the bush, especially as the ankles and back of knees are the most
irritating places to get bitten. Long sleeved shirts ate also good, and if you
roll your sleeves up, don't forget to put repellent on your elbows, another
irritating place for bites.
THINGS THAT BITE AND STING
On the reef, fire coral is quite
common, but if you get stung, it serves you right because you shouldn't be
touching coral any way. Unless you're extremely unlucky, any other bite or
sting will only cause temporary irritation. For stings from marine animals,
apply vinegar to neutralize any residual spikes. For other bites anticortizone
cream is best. The local Rain Forest Remedies on sale work well. They also
do a very effective balm for bites. Put it on straight after being bitten for
WHEN TO GO WHERE
Choosing the right time to visit makes a big
difference to what you will see. If birds are your interest they are most
abundant and varied over the Autumn migration (late August to October),
but many over-winter and are around until April. Spring migration isn't as
good as many birds travel back through Guatemala. In the dry season
(roughly February to June but variable) many birds are nesting (like Jabiru,
Red- footed Booby and Scarlet Macaws) and the larger forest mammals are
attracted to rivers to drink, where they can be more easily seen. If you're
desperate to avoid biting insects, this is also a good time. If you can put up
with them though, there's an increase in animal activity at the start of the rainy
season (June, July). Plants of different kinds flower all year round, but many
start at the beginning or end of the dry season. For diving or snorkeling,
avoiding rough seas is the main consideration. May is the month when winds
AS A VISITOR
The most important thing to remember is that reserves are
special places set up to protect wildlife and to help people enjoy the natural
environment. Loud music, partying and bar-be-ques are great but not at
these sites. Treat reserves with respect, register as required, never disturb
any wildlife, do nothing to detract from the enjoyment of other visitors and
take out all rubbish you bring in. If you want souvenirs, get them from
conservation bodies like the Belize Audubon Society (12 Fort St., Belize
City 02-34985. Open weekdays 8am-noon, 1pm-5pm), Belize Zoo and
Tropical Education Centre (Mile 29, Western Highway. Open daily
9:30am-4pm ) and Programme for Belize (I King St., Belize City 02-
75616. Open weekdays 8am-noon, 1 pm - 5pm).
Many reserves are accessible by bus. Just tell the
ticket guy where you want to get off. If you choose to hire a car, take extra
care, especially if you're a tourist. For Mountain Pine Ridge also remember
that logging and military vehicles use the area, so expect more traffic.
The beautiful photograph of the "Ceiba tree at sunset" in the slideshow at the top of the page is by JC Cuellar - JCCuellar.com. It was taken at Spanish Lookout.