Contrary to its title, Baboon Sanctuary, the Community Baboon Sanctuary is home to a troupe of Howler Monkeys but I saw no baboons such as those as you would expect to find in Africa. Baboon is the term used by Belizeans to refer to Black Howler Monkeys. A preserve of 18 square miles has been created to protect as many as 1,500 Black Howler Monkeys, the largest monkey in the Americas.
Our guide took us along trails in the forest where these monkeys thrive and little ones can often be enticed to take a banana or two from humans. The large, dominant male let us know he was in charge of the area and protecting his territory by "howling" which really sounded more like the growl of lion!! With this, the rest of the howler monkeys darted up into the higher branches of the trees. (See the second photo showing a rope ladder strung between trees to give these monkeys a route to cross to different sections of the forest without interference from humans.)
During our trail walk, our guide, a young woman of about 18 yrs. old, gave us more information about various plants, trees, etc., and their medicinal uses than I could possible remember. This place is a veritable ecological pharmacy where native plants & trees are yielding ingredients for modern medicines being used at this time and possibly the future cure of many diseases was wait to be discovered in the tropical forests of Belize. This is another extremely important why natural habitat and rainforests must be preserved at all costs.)
Ship Tours such as this can cost as much as $80 pp but are usually in conjunction with a museum visit, river boat tour or such. It is probably much less expensive to negotiate with a Belize tour company, or perhaps with an independent guide/driver.
After having lunch at the Old Tavern at the Burrell Boom Landing, we boarded a tour boat which had 2 rows of seats and a cover overhead to keep off the hot sun or light rain but was open other than that. This speedy little boat would take us the 16 miles back to Belize City via the Old Belize River and it was a magnificent ride!
The river was a beautiful milky green color and the shores were pristine and untouched for most of the trip down the river, with only a few nice little houses perched on the river banks here and there. Our boat captain was an amazing man who could spot wildlife 100 yards away. He had a great eye for the wildlife! And this type of wildlife is the kind that blends in with its surroundings!! He did a fantastic job of pointing out all sorts of wildlife like crocs, iquanas, bats, howler monkeys, and even manatees!! He made sure we had a chance to see as much as we possibly could! We were not disappointed!! This really is a fantastic way to see a special part of Belize.
If you visit the "Community Baboon Sanctuary", you will no doubt want to visit the Museum there. Housed in a little green building, this little NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM does an admirable job of presenting information about wildlife indigenous to local area and Belize as a whole. Spread out over about 4 little rooms, the exhibits here include specimens, pictures, and displays and I think everyone could learn something from it. There is also a small gift shop here where they try to raise a little money for the museum. One of the funders for the sanctuary & museum is the World Wildlife Federation! and although it doesn't appear that the place receives alot of funding, It's nice to see where some of my donations are going!
Behind this building is a double purpose building where a man who was very knowledgeable about Belize and its amazing wealth of wildlife gave us a very interesting talk about what the country is trying to do to preserve its wildlife! This also added to the experience and gave reason for hope that there are still places in the world that put wilderness & wildlife conservation ahead of money! The Community Baboon Sanctuary is actually a grassroots effort by villagers and landowners who are committed to preserving the habitat of the Black Howler Monkeys here in the Belize District.
Although very outdated, Belize is the one city in the world that can still boast it owns and operates a manual swing bridge. For many years, people have moved away from this technology, opting for mechanically operated bridge systems. Belize City however still employs at minimum 16 hands per day to open and close this bridge. Its purpose is to move many boats into safe harbor for evenings, so it is only opened twice a day. Once in the morning to let boats leave, and once at night to let them back in.
For archeology buffs, Belize is like a treasure box. Several important sites lie a good distance from Belize City but are accessible by different means. Here are a few of the most famous:
Santa Rita lies beneath the modern town of Corozal thought to be the Maya city of Chetumal. Late Post Classic Period (1350 - 1530 AD) Its strategic location invited attention of the Conquistadores.
Lamanai ~ "Submerged Crocodile" Famous as the largest Preclassic structure known in the Maya area and because it was occupied continuously from approx. 300 BC to 1680 AD. Site and artifacts are extensive.
Xunantunich ~ "Maiden of the Rock" major ceremonial center whose most prominent structure is "El Castillo" - a 130 pyramid. (80 miles from Belize City near Guatamalan border).
Altun Ha ~ "Water of the Rock" the most extensively excavated of the Maya sites, believed to have been settled over 2000 years ago during the Classic Period. Founding place of the largest Mayan jade carving in existence, and the Temple of the Green Tomb burial chamber.( 30 miles north of Belize City)
I put rainforest in quotation to denote that officially Belize is not in rainforest conditions (over 150 inches/yr.), however its foilage is similar to that of the South American rainforests. On our trip to go cave tubing, we were also invited to carry our tubes for a leisure 45 minute hike. This is beautiful country!
This small Vistor Center & Museum actually has a plaque which indicated that it had received funds from the World Wildlife Fund). Obviously, the Visitor Center & Museum do not get a lot of funding but it's good to know that some of your WWF donations are truly being expended where it counts. The elderly man who gave us a nice introduction to the Center, about the native animals, and the work being done there to preserve the animals' habitat in Belize was especially interesting.
It was quite a small building but you could see that pride had been taken in the exhibits, photographs, fossils, etc., that were displayed there. It was educational to see the different species of animals native to Belize, and facts about them. I thought it was important to let the people of Belize know that their work in animal conservation was appreciated so we left a donation to help with the Museum's work here.
Cucumber Beach is not exactly off the beaten path - but it is located outside Belize city in the middle of the countryside, at Mile 5 George Price Highway.
it is a man-made beach on a piece of land that used to belong to a Florida vegetable farmer who had visions of growing vegetable here - especially cucumbers. The farm is now gone and a man-made beach has been created. Given the fact that there are no beaches in or near Belize city, Cucumber beach is a beach option if oyu have little time in town and don't want to buy overpriced cruise excurions that do not take you to the scenic keys anyway.
Entrance was 10 Belize dollars and we found the "beach" adequate; the water was not spectacular but it was OK and our little boy had the time of his life: there is also a 90-feet long slide, so for adults use only. The restaurant offers the usual American-friendly fare but when we asked if we could have a tropical fruit salad (not on the menu) they were kind enough to prepare it for us.
If you want a quick legal and beautiful wedding ceremony, Belize is the place to do it.
these are the requirements.
* Must reside in Belize for one week.
* Needs proof of citizenship - original Birth Certificate, sealed or proof of Divorce
* Certified or original Death Certificate of widow / widower
* Needs to be over 18 years of age
* US$100.00 p/couple plus US$5.00 Administration Fee.
* Has to be a registered priest if in Church
* Can be in Magistrate's Court / Registry Dept.
You can have the hotel arrange your wedding or a tour company or the Maya ruins tour place.
or tons of other mediums.
Map of the many dive sites within minutes of Blackbird Resort.
Blue Hole dive site 1 1/2 hour boat ride from Blackbird Caye.
Descended 139 feet in 3 minutes. Then I was circling around huge stalagtites formed when the Hole was dry. The eerie sunken stalagtites are encrusted with dead looking sea stuff that felt coarse.
If you see a roadside stand selling green coconuts, stop and buy one! They slice open the top, stick a straw in and it becomes a handy cup of pure, delicious, sweet water. So good, especially on a hot day!
This is a place where you can see the arts and crafts of Belize. There are dozens of stalls here where you can buy woven bags, t-shirts, Mayan arts, Mayan chess sets, wood carvings, bracelets, jewelries, etc.
In Belize, you have to at least visit the Altun Ha and go cave tubing! For us, we were limited to do the Altun Ha only because I have a little child.
Make sure to go tubing because I heard from the people who went there had so much fun.
We missed out on this that's why we are thinking of going back when my daughter Sierra is a little bit bigger. I could have gone with my 16 year old but that means that I will be splitting my family in Belize. To be together, I chose to go to the Mayan ruins. We had fun climbing the hill there and the Mayan Ruins.
In Belize City, you can find a lot of vendors on the side of the street close to the Terminal Mall. They sell from fruits (oranges, bananas, mangoes, coconuts, water, soda, etc.). One of the vendors that caught my attention was this guy who sells sugar cane.
If you have strong teeth, you can buy this and chew them to squeeze the the sweet juice.
You can exchange your money at the Belize Bank. Not sure what else are available in Belize but this is the only one I had seen. U.S. dollars are accepted in Belize but I had some dollars changed at the local restaurant close to Fort George crafts because my niece was collecting foreign money.