Caribbean: Wildlife Destinations
Over 40% of Belize is protected in tropical forest reserves, including the Cockscombe Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, established in 1984 to protect a large jaguar population. A short distance from Belize City, the Community Baboon Sanctuary has witnessed equal success with the conservation of black howler monkeys. To the north, Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary is a haven for waterbirds, such as Jabiru storks, snail kites and several species of kingfisher, heron and duck, while the tropical forests of Tapir Mountain Reserve, near Belmopan, provide a refuge for Belize’s national animal, the Baird’s tapir.
Rainforests are just one half of the picture when it comes to natural treasures in Belize. The country also boasts the world’s second longest barrier reef system – a 295km chain of reefs, coral cays and mangroves, plus three offshore atolls (Turneffe Islands, Lighthouse reef and Glover’s Reef). A world heritage site, the reef supports over 500 varieties of fish and several endangered species, including the West Indian manatee, hawksbill turtle and American crocodile. Breeding colonies of magnificent frigatebirds, brown and red-footed boobies and brown noddies can be found on islands like Man O’War Caye and Half Moon Caye. The diving opportunities are outstanding. Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker are the most popular, but many divers venture to the smaller marine reserves and to the world-famous Blue Hole.
When to go The wet season is June and August; hurricane season September and October. Wildlife watching can be particularly rewarding during June and July when fresh rains bring relief after the stifling heat of May.
Further information travelbelize.org, belizeaudubon.org
Honduras: Top 5 Things To Do
1. Travel by dugout into the Río Plátano rainforest
Explore the Moskitia (Mosquito Coast), venturing upriver through a vast rainforest biosphere reserve.
2. Explore the mangroves of Cuero y Salado
Paddle a canoe through this sanctuary in search of manatees, monkeys and boat-billed herons.
3. Take a boat trip to Punta Sal National Park
Rainforest, mangroves, sandy beaches and coral reefs can all be found in this Caribbean jewel.
4. Dive the Bay Islands
Located 29 km off the coast, Utila has superb diving on coral reefs, plus encounters with whale sharks, March to May and August to October.
5. Spot birds in Pico Bonito National Park
It’s home to 420 species, from hummingbirds to eagles. Pico Bonito Lodge is birding heaven.