5 Un-Belize-able Wildlife Adventures

wildlife adventures

When most people think of tropical vacations, they think of white sand, turquoise surf, and endless days of relaxation. However, when an eco-tourist thinks of the tropics, they get giddy over the opportunities to see incredible wildlife.

Belize is a tropical destination that has it all: some of the most beautiful beaches as well as flora and fauna you won’t find anywhere else in the world. If you can pull yourself away from the soothing sounds of the beach, you won’t be disappointed by the following wildlife adventures around Belize.

1. Belize Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef isn’t the only reef system – and it isn’t the only one in danger from human interference, either. The Belize Barrier Reef is the second-largest reef in the world, and it is rapidly receding thanks to warming waters, over-fishing, and oil exploration. In fact, the reef is dying so quickly that it could disappear in your lifetime.

Before the Belize Barrier Reef is obliterated by carelessness and avarice, you should plan a visit. Outstandingly, the reef is home to more than 106 varieties of coral, more than 500 species of fish, and dozens of other types of marine life, including turtles and crabs. After seeing the natural beauty of the reef, you will undoubtedly want to work harder to protect it from those trying to destroy it.

2. Great Blue Hole

What sounds like a highway tourist trap is actually one of the most astounding natural wonders in the world – and a haven for marine life, to boot. Just off the coast of Belize City, amidst a small atoll called Lighthouse Reef, a submarine sinkhole has produced a nearly perfect blue circle of immense proportions. For the full visual impact of the Great Blue Hole, you should book a flyover tour, but if you are primarily interested in the wild critters of Belize, you can’t miss a dive into its depths.

As part of the reef system near Belize, the Great Blue Hole boasts many of the species commonly found in those environments. On your dive, you are likely to spot plenty of small sharks, including Caribbean reef sharks, blacktip sharks, and nurse sharks. In addition to some brightly colored fish, you are likely to encounter the frightening giant grouper, which can swallow sharks whole. At the right time of year, you might also run into some sea turtles!

3. Chiquibul Jungle

Belize isn’t just white sand beaches and turquoise waters. In fact, most of Belize consists of dense rainforest, much of which is captured in full in Chiquibul Jungle. Mostly untouched since the Maya left the region centuries ago, Chiquibul is thriving with exotic flora and fauna; in just a few hours, you are likely to see more fascinating plants and creatures here than you would in a zoo.

One of the most noteworthy efforts taking place in Chiquibul is the restoration of the scarlet macaw. Just a few years ago, macaws numbered only 200 in the Belize wilderness because they were killed for their brilliant plumage or poached for pets. Today, volunteer efforts near macaw nests have increased populations and kept poachers at bay.

4. Monkey River

After you spend some time lounging on the beaches in Placencia, Belize, you should schedule a trip to Monkey River. Aptly named, Monkey River leads deep into the heart of Belize’s southern forests, where New World monkeys abound. Undoubtedly, you will hear the echoes of howler monkeys calling to one another, and you could see some swinging through the branches.

Even if you don’t catch sight of the monkeys, there are plenty of other fauna to see on Monkey River. Once one of the most threatened species in the world – and now with flourishing populations around the Caribbean – manatees call the river home and often bump into tour boats. Plus, the river is an excellent location for birdwatching; you’ll spot exotic species like the Agami heron, the anhinga, and the bare-throated tiger heron.

wildlife adventures 5. Cockscomb Basin

Cockscomb Basin isn’t just another area of Belize’s rainforest; it is one of the oldest and most successful wildlife sanctuaries dedicated to protecting jaguars. Like other big cats, jaguars have long been hunted for adventure and souvenirs, but poaching and habitat shrinkage have drastically impacted their populations. Thanks to the sanctuary in Cockscomb, jaguars have flourished in recent years – but you still aren’t terribly likely to see one. Your best chance at spotting a jaguar in the wild is to venture deep into the basin at night. DTOURZ has notoriously good luck finding the cats. Fortunately, even if you don’t snap a pic of a jaguar, you will likely spy other elusive wildlife in Cockscomb, such as tapirs, coatis, iguanas, and more.

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