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GtB National Parks in Belize with the gigantic Hidden Valley Water Fall





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National Parks



Belize's natural environment is perhaps its most precious resource. Each district contains several protected areas which enable scientists of all disciplines and visitors who love the outdoors to walk through the flora and witness the fauna firsthand. At the left, the beautiful 300 meter Falls (1,000 ft) Hidden Valley Fall.

GtB Howler Monkey in the Rainforest of Belize
always click to enlarge
With the support of numerous environmentally conscious organizations, such as, the Audubon Society, the Smithsonian Institute, the World Wildlife Fund, and many zoological societies, Belize has become an internationally recognized leader in the preservation and conservation of its environment.

The Belize Nature and National Parks

Choose here from the many of the protected areas of Belize which are open to the public and are set up for visitors to hike, bird watch, swim, canoe, or simply take in their surroundings.
Belize Zoo
Guanacaste National Park
Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Reserve
Mountain Pine Ridge
Community Baboon Sanctuary Rio Bravo Conservation and Mngt.
Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary
St. Herman's Blue Hole National P.
Five Blues Lake National Park
Tour Equipment

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Belize Zoo
The Belize Zoo is refuge and rehabilitation center for injured wildlife, as well as a home for abused and abandoned "pets". Because there are healthy populations of certain species of wildlife in Belize,  it is easy (though also illegal) for people to acquire birds and animals which they attempt to domesticate for their own personal pleasure.

GtB The Faimous Keel billed Toucan at the lovely Belize Zoo
People are most often unable to tame these animals, or they grow tired of their "pets." The Belize Zoo has played a major role in saving the lives of these animals by providing a new home for these orphans who are most often cant rehabilitated to their natural home in the wild.
 
Getting There
Link:  Belize Zoo
You can easily travel cost effective in 35 minutes from Belize City with a Bus direction Belmopan. There is a Bus Stop in Front of the Zoo. By rented car, follow the Western Highway to about Mile 28 (45 km), then look for a Zoo sign and drive to the right in the parking spot. Open daily 9 to 4:30 pm.

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Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Reserve
Belize's jaguar reserve is a wildlife sanctuary established in 1984, etched in the middle of the jungle, south of Dangriga. The visitor's entrance to the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is located at Maya Centre, which is at Mile 15 on the Southern Highway in the Stann Creek District.
GtB Jaguar at the Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Reserve in Belize
Situated within the shadows of the Maya Mountains, the sanctuary encompasses some 100,000 acres of tropical moist forest that rises from 300 feet (100 m  above sea level to approximately 3,675 fett (1225 m) at the summit of Victoria Peak. The sanctuary is home to numerous members of the cat family and there is also a large population of mammals and birds to support the food chain.

Getting There
Link: Audubon Society
Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is located off the Southern Highway between Dangriga and Placencia. You can easily travel cost effective in 3.5 hours from Belize City with a direction Punta Gorda. After leaving Dangriga, request the Bus to stop at Maya Center. Pay your entrance fee and then hire a local taxi from the village. The actual park is six miles down a dirt road.

By rented car the journey takes approximately 2.5 hours. A four-wheel drive is recommended and necessary in wet weather. Take the Western Highway out of Belize City. Then turn left onto the Hummingbird Highway and then change six miles before Dangriga to the Southern Highway direction Punta Gorda. Stop in Maya Center, pay your entrance fee and drive the six miles down on the dirt road.

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Community Baboon Sanctuary
The Community Baboon Sanctuary on the banks of the Belize River is located some thirty miles west of Belize City off the Northern Highway in the Belize District. Consisting of some eighteen square miles of basically subsistence farms, the sanctuary exhibits the spirit of coexistence that Belizeans have with nature.

GtB Protected Monkeys at the Baboon Sanctuary
Through a grassroots effort, the villagers and landowners have committed to preserving the habitat necessary to insure a healthy population of Black Howler Monkeys.  With assistance from the WWF and the Zoological Society of Milwaukee County, a small natural history museum and visitor's center has been erected in Bermudian Landing, which is the most central location in the sanctuary.

Getting There
Link: howlermonkeys.org
There's no public transport to the Community Baboon Sanctuary. If you use a Rental Car and you start your journey in Belize City, then take the Northern Highway. About 5 miles (8 km) past Ladyville, turn left towards Burrell Boom. Continue through Burrell Boom, and Scotland Half Moon and further to the Sanctuary headquarters.

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Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary
Established for the protection of resident and migrant birds, the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary is located 30 miles (48 km) northwest of Belize City off the Northern Highway in the Belize District.  The most notable migratory resident is the Jabiru Stork. With a wingspan of 3-4 meter (10-12 feet), it is the largest flying bird in North America.

GtB A Jabiru flys over the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary in Belize
Consisting of a large network of inland lagoons, swamps, and waterways, the sanctuary provides both the abundant food sources and the safe resting area that is necessary to support a large and diverse population of birds. Luckily, Belize has the largest nesting population of Jabirus in Central America. When the rain comes in May, many birds leave to return again in November.

Getting There
Link: Audubon Society
You can easily travel cost effective in 60 minutes from Belize City with a direct Bus to the Crooked Tree Village. Accommodation is available in Crooked Tree. By rented car, us the Northern Highway and then turn west at Mile 33. Take the dirt road marked by a wooden signpost. Open from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m

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Five Blues Lake National Park
The Five Blues Lake National Park is located in a most impressive setting in the forest-covered foothills of the Maya Mountains and it was established in 1992.  It is a pristine tract of karst terrain, honeycombed with unexplored cave systems and teeming with spectacular wildlife.

GtB The Five Blues Lake National Park in Belize
The attraction of  the park is the karstic lake. The lake was a cenote, a collapsed cave system also known as a blue hole. The lake showcased five unique shades of blues hence the name Five Blues Lake. Read that name carefully: the park has a lake with five shades of blue, not five lakes all the same color ("Five Blue Lakes"). It is believed that the lake was formed as the result of some blockage of an underground water way, which is a normal feature in karstic landscape.

Over 200 species of birds have been identified in the park and all five of Belize’s wildcats are known to make their homes within its boundaries. Inside the tangle of broadleaf trees, howler monkeys, tapir, gibnut, peccary and armadillo roam in a kaleidoscope of liana, bromeliads and orchids.
In the middle of June 2006 the Water despaired completely in the karstic ground of the limestone formations of the lake. All in all the lake level has come down roughly 15 feet (5 m) and reduced to approximately to one quarter of its original surface. This is just something that can happen to karstic lakes.  This Picture at  was taken end of July 2006.

GtB The Five Blues Lake, when the Water is slow coming back
Nearly a year after the disappearing act, a early Wednesday morning end of June 2007, villagers passing through the National Park noticed that the lake had suddenly filled with water.
Getting There
 
You can easily travel cost effective in 60 minutes from Belize City to Belmopan. From there you take a Bus to direction South to Dangriga. On Mile 32 on the Hummingbird Highway about 22 miles (35 km) southeast of Belmopan you have to leaf the Bus opposite Over-the-Top Bar. Try to rent a mountain Bike on the entrance to St. Margaret's Village, because it's about 6 miles (9,5 km) north along a winding track through acres of citrus plantations. The Trip can also easily be done with a rental Car.

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Guanacaste National Park
The Guanacaste National Park is a fifty acre parcel of tropical forest located on the north side of the Western Highway at its junction with the Hummingbird Highway in the Cayo District. The park is named for the giant guanacaste (tubroos) tree growing near the southwestern edge of the park.

GtB The giant Guanacaste in the Guanacaste National Park in Cayo, Belize
In addition to the guanacaste tree, there are numerous other species of trees throughout the park. Although the mammal population is rather small, over one hundred species of birds have been identified within the park.  Guanacaste Park offers a relaxing introduction to the tropical forests of Belize because it is easily traversed, it has well marked and maintained trails and many of the trees and plants have been identified with their own name tag.

Getting There
Link: Audubon Society
The Guanacaste National Park is easily accessed by private vehicles or bus. Take a Bus from Belize City to Belmopan and leave the bus at the intersection of the Hummingbird and Western Highways. Open from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m

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Mountain Pine Ridge
The Mountain Pine Ridge is 300 square miles of forest reserve that is south of the Western Highway in the Cayo District. Its easye to acess from San Ignacio Town. In 1924 Forests Act is passed. 20 years later, the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve was established to protect and manage the native pine forest as one of the first reserves.

GtB The Rio Frio Pools on the way to Mountain Pine Ridge
The Mountain Pine Ridge is home to the Hidden Valley Fall. a 300 meter (1,000 ft) Fall, the Rio On River, the Rio On Pools, and the Rio Frio Cave and Nature Trail, as well as numerous small streams and waterfalls. Besides offering magnificent vistas, the cooler temperatures along with a refreshing swim can provide a welcome respite to the travel weary visitors. Many nature trails and impressive destinations make Mountain Pine Ridge the ideal place for hiking and horseback riding, while the many rivers that run through it are great for canoeing and kayaking.
The Rio Frio Cave, is the most impressive river caves in Belize and located just a short ride from the Mountain Pine Ridge's entry. After you come into the cave's 65 foot (20 m) arched entryway, you can see numerous pools and falls and large stalactites which hang all through the quarter-mile long cave.

GtB The Faimous Rio Frio Cave at ther Mountain Pine Ridge Nationalpark in Belize
Because the tensed security situation with Guatemala criminals, you will always find police and military presence in Caracol and the Mountain Pine Ridge.
Getting There

There's no public transport to the Mountain Pine Ridge. You can take easily a Bus from Belize City to San Ignacio where you will find affordable Hotels. Many licensed Tour Operators will offer you a Tour to the Mountain Pine Ridge, mostly combined with the Maya Site Caracol.

By rented car, follow the Western Highway to Belmopan and further to San Ignacio. You can easily find at Hotel in San Ignacio. Leave very early in the Morning, then drive back over the Hawksworth Bridge to Santa Elena 1 mile (1.5 km) the turn right the road to Cristo Rey and San Antonio villages , at Mile Marker 10, you will come to the entrance to the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve. We strongly recommend you have a four-wheel-drive vehicle, because the roads can get pretty muddy and slick in the wet season.

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Rio Bravo Conservation and Management
The Belize Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area is located in the northwest corner of Belize in the Orange Walk District. The area consists of broadleaf forest, swamp forest, palm forest, savannah,  marsh and the home to 200 species of trees and 70 different species of mammals.

GtB A view into the beautiful Belize Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area
The Area is consisting of some 202,000 acres, the area is managed for conservation, scientific research, sustained-yield timber harvesting, non timber forest product extraction, ecotourism, and educational purposes by the Programme for Belize which is a private nonprofit Belizean organization.
Due to its remote location and the elimination of hunting, many endangered species - Black Howler Monkeys, Central American Spider Monkeys, Jaguars, Pumas, Ocelots, Margays, Jaguarundis, Tapirs, Pecarries, Ocellated Turkeys and Brocket Deer have found refuge within the Conservation Area.

GtB A Parrot in Rio Bravo bird watcher's paradise in the rainforest of Belize
The Belize Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area is also a bird watcher's paradise, ornithologists have recorded over 355 species of birds.
Getting There
Link: pfbelize.org
There's no public transport to the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area. If you use a Rental Car then drive direction West from Orange Walk via San Felipe through the modern Mennonite settlement of Blue Creek, high up on the Río Bravo embankment and further to the PFB building.

It is possible to get a accommodation on the "La Milpa and Hill Bank field stations" they are equipped to provide board and lodging for around 30 visitors, the PFB office can you give details.

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St. Herman's Blue Hole National Park
The St. Herman's Blue Hole National Park (inland Blue Hole) is located 12 miles southeast of Belmopan on the Hummingbird Highway. The Blue Hole is a popular recreational spot, where water on its way from a tributary to the Sibun River, emerges from a collapsed karst sinkhole.

GtB Jump in the pool at St. Herman's Blue Hole National Park in Belize
The pool, from which the park receives its name, is a beautiful sapphire blue that is about twenty-five feet deep and is attracting thousands of visitors during the summer months. After a short run through a natural jungle setting, the stream disappears into a large underwater cavern.

Getting There
Link: Audubon Society
You can easily travel cost effective by Bus in 60 minutes from Belize City to Belmopan. From there you take a Bus to direction South to Dangriga. Right next to the Hummingbird Highway and about 12 miles (19 km) southeast of Belmopan you have to leaf the Bus. There are two access points, the visitor centre/parking area for Herman's Cave, and the lay-by just above the Blue Hole.  Open daily 8 to 4:30 pm.

If you use a Rental Car there is a sign for St. Herman’s Cave; ignore it and continue to the main park entrance about a mile and a half (2 km) down the road. You’ll find a parking area and changing room for a dip in the deep blue waters of the Blue Hole.

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Equipment
To enjoy your stay in the Belize Nature Parks, we recommend parts of this Equipment.
  • Sun screen and insect repellent
  • Bottle with drinking water
  • Small First Aid Kit with anticortizone cream for bites
  • Swimmwear and sun hat
  • Long pants and sleeves for hiking and evenings
  • Light weight rain gear with hood
  • Hiking boots or shoes with good tread
  • Flash light or head lamp for Caves and in the night
  • Binoculars and camera with plenty of film or enough memory cards
Clothing in dark colors doesn’t attract insects as much and are better camouflage for you. It sound very 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, also don’t forget to put repellent on this places.

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