Our world famous National Parks are one of most precious natural resources - a paradise for botanists, ornithologists, mammalogists, ichthyologists and zoologists. Preserve, conserve and enjoy!
Located along the Western Highway only a few miles west of the Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center, Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary is a privately owned and operated nature reserve encompassing 1,070 acres of mostly pine and cohune palm savanna, tropical gallery forest, freshwater wetlands and lagoons. Monkey Bay is considered an ideal location for bird-watching and many other kinds of field research. This is also one of the few places in Belize where visitors are not only allowed but encouraged to camp.
Half Moon Caye Natural Monument
The Half Moon Caye Natural Monument was established in March of 1982, the first reserve to be created under the National Parks System Act of 1981. Half Moon Caye is located at the southeast corner of Lighthouse Reef, the most eastern of the three atolls in Belizean waters, some 50 miles southeast of Belize City. The caye itself, eight feet above sea level, is approximately 45 acres in size and is divided into two very distinct ecosystems. The western region, with its dense vegetation, has corresponding rich soil made fertile by guano from the thousands of sea birds nesting in this area. The eastern half of the caye is composed primarily of coconut palms with sparse vegetation below.
Burdon Canal starts right of the Western Highway and crosses the Sibun River which leads you to the middle of the lagoon in the Burdon Canal Nature Reserve. The river is full of reptile life and the surrounding forest is a heaven for bird watchers.
The 6,000 acres of reserve was given to a group of local women to plant and harvest local herbs and trees. The pristine forest is full wild life, flora and fauna.
Community Baboon Sanctuary, Bermudian Landing
The Community Baboon Sanctuary was established in 1985 to protect one of the few healthy black howler monkey populations in Central America. Unlike any other existing wildlife management project in the world, the sanctuary is a completely voluntary, grassroots conservation program dependent upon the cooperation of private landowners within active farm communities. In addition to the numerous howler troops, an abundance of other animal life is found on the sanctuary. Nearly 200 bird species have been identified along with many other species of mammals, amphibians and reptiles.
The Rio Bravo Conservation & Management Area, a 229,000 acres of reserved land in the northwestern corner of Belize, is managed by Programme for Belize. Rio Bravo is a flagship project where Programme for Belize demonstrates the practical application of its principles. This reserve provides varied rich habits for many endangered and exotic species including the tapir, jaguar, toucan, hictee,Morelet's crocodile and many more. Approximately half of the land is managed as a reserve for the protection of bio-diversity and natural habitats. On the Conservation and Management Area, Programme for Belize conducts research, conservation education, professional training and promotes environmental awareness amongst visitors.
Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary
The Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary was established in November 1984 for the protection of resident and migrant birds, which, during the dry season gather there by the thousands. The sanctuary centres around several inland lagoons connected by waterways. Other land forms in the sanctuary include swamps, savannah and lowland pine ridge. This is prime habitat for Jabiru Storks, which congregate around Crooked Tree at the end of the nesting season.
Hol Chan Marine Reserve
The Hol Chan Marine Reserve focuses on the Hol Chan (Mayan for '"little channel") cut which is a break or quebrada in the reef, approximately 4 miles southeast of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. This reef is in the northern section of the Belize barrier reef system which stretches for 150 miles. Depths inside the reef average 15 feet and the channel itself is about 30 feet deep. The reserve which covers about 5 sq. miles, has been divided into 3 zones, thus allowing the maximum use of the area whilst emphasizing its preservation. These zones are clearly marked by buoys.
Aguas Turbias Reserve is very unique as this is where the three countries of Belize, Guatemala and Mexico meet. This 7,000 acres of reserve, near the Rio Bravo, has wildlife, flora and fauna in abundance.
Shipstern Nature Reserve
The Shipstern Nature Reserve is located on 22,000 acres in the Corozal District. The Shipstern Nature Reserve is the only protected area in Belize which includes the more seasonal northern hardwood forests, saline lagoon systems and mangrove shorelines. A Butterfly Breeding Centre has been established at the site of the reserve's headquarters.
If you are interested in seeing some of the tallest and oldest mangrove forests in all of Central America, a trip up the Rio Temash fills the prescription. This river one of four major watercourses that drain into the Caribbean from the Toledo District. In 1992, it was created into the Temash and Sarstoon Delta Wildlife Sanctuary.
Paynes Creek National Park
Paynes Creek National Park is located in the village of Monkey River in the Toledo District. The nature reserve was created to protects the area's wildlife and flora. The reserve is under the custodianship of the village and 3500 acres of it has been allocated for small scale agriculture to ensure the community's rural lifestyle.
Laughing Bird Caye
A small, coconut-studded island about 12 miles southeast of Placencia. Laughing Bird gets its name from the large number of laughing gulls that once used it as a rookery. Overuse by humans caused the gulls to abandon the island completely, although a few have been sighted here since 1990. The government has taken steps to minimize this disruption .
Bladen Nature Reserve
Bladen Nature Reserve in the Maya Mountains has been set aside to preserve its watershed, pristine forest and large population of endangered species. Bladen was declared a reserve in 1990 to be held for research only. The goal at Bladen, which covers some 97,000 acres, is to leave an area of wild habitat for perpetuating natural and biological diversity.
Chiguibul National Park
This broad tableland consists of hundreds of square miles of intact forest, the last stronghold of many wildlife and plant species that are endangered elsewhere in Central America and southern Mexico. The plateau is crisscrossed by old logging and chiclero trails, but over the years, many have been almost reclaimed by the jungle. Chiquibul Forest Reserve, populated only by a few loggers, tree-tappers and archaeologists, is closely monitored.
Caracol Archaelogical Reserve
Caracol Archaeological reserve includes the Maya ruin of Caracol, the largest Mayan site in Belize. The ancient Maya city of Caracol was a massive and sophisticated metropolis that remained hidden from the world under a blanket of rain forest for nearly a millennium. In recent years, archaeologists have realized that Caracol was far more important and powerful than they had guessed. Caracol is surrounded by high-canopy forest which is inhabited by several species of cat, the howler monkeys and rare birds.
Cockscomb Basin The Cockscomb Basin Forest Reserve was established in 1984 and declared a no hunting area to protect the natural prey of its resident jaguars. Part of the Forest Reserve was established as the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary in 1986. The sanctuary was expanded in 1990 to include the entire forest reserve, a total area of over 100,000 acres. The CBWS is without doubt Belize's most famous reserve. In February 1988, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, as President of the World Wide Fund for Nature, visited Cockscomb. Newspapers and magazines throughout the world have carried stories on Cockscomb and its jaguars.
Glovers Reef Marine Reserve
This little mangrove island is home to breathtaking marine life and many species of birds.These marine reserves are very important in preserving our barrier reef.
Five Blues Lakes
Five Blues Lake is located in the village of St. Margaret's Village in the Cayo District It is called Five Blues Lake because of the different depths of water around the edge of the lake and the different limestone rock that goes under the water. The water and rock reflects a different type of blue, a bluish green, or sometimes a darkish green, and as the sun goes overhead, the blues change.
Blue Hole National Park
Blue Hole National Park includes an area of some 575 acres, covered with primary and secondary forest growth. From its northern boundary, the Hummingbird Highway, this rugged karst landscape quickly rises to elevation in excess of 200 meters. Through and under Blue Hole National Park flow some of the upland tributaries of the Sibun River one of Belize's principal water courses. Much of this central area of Belize is limestone of Cretaceous age and includes such karstic features as underground streams, rivers, sinkholes, cenotes and extensive subterranean cave systems. The principal attractions at Blue Hole National Park.
Formerly named Society Hall, Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve was officially established in November of 1986 for tropical research and preservation of genetic diversity. The area is around 360 feet above sea level and covers 6741 acres. Located at the northern edge of the Mountain Pine Ridge, the terrain is rugged limestone karst, categorized as subtropical wet forests. A Rapid Ecological Assessment was carried out in 1994 to record the biological diversity of the area.
Guanacaste National Park
Guanacaste National Park is the name of a fifty-acre parcel of tropical forest located on the north side of the Western Highway just to the east of the Roaring Creek bridge. The land was first held as a Crown Reserve, then became a park and later received the completely protected status of a National Park under the Belize Government to be cared for by the Belize Audubon Society. The park derives its name from the giant guanacaste or tubroos tree growing near the the southwestern edge. In addition to the tubroos there are many other species of trees growing in Guanacaste Park. Over one hundred species of birds have been seen in the park . Also included are mammals and reptiles.