Community Baboon Sanctuary
Lonely Planet review
No real baboons inhabit Belize, but Belizeans use that name for black howler monkeys. Though howler monkeys live throughout Central and South America, the endangered black howler exists only in Belize, northern Guatemala and southern Mexico. The Community Baboon Sanctuary is spread over several long-established Creole villages in the Belize River valley. The sanctuary has engineered a big increase in this primate’s population and is doubly interesting because it’s a completely community-run, grassroots conservation operation. In addition to the near-certainty of seeing some of these fascinating primates, the sanctuary offers river trips (day and night) and horseback riding. There are also nearly 200 bird species here to keep wildlife watchers busy. The sanctuary takes up approximately 20 sq miles; however, the black howlers have made an amazing comeback in the area, and the monkeys now roam freely all around the surrounding area. While you’re most likely to see the monkeys in the sanctuary (the ones who live here are the most socialized, and least prone to shun humans), you’ll probably hear their distinctive howls at dusk and dawn in places such as Spanish Creek Wildlife Sanctuary (several miles to the west; opposite) or in other areas of Belize District that offer the monkeys the broadleaf-forest habitat in which they thrive. The CBS visitors center, in Bermudian Landing, has a number of good exhibits and displays on the black howler, the history of the sanctuary, and other Belizean wildlife. Included with the admission fee is a one-hour guided nature walk on which you’re likely to encounter a resident troop of black howlers. Along the way the trained local guides also impart their knowledge of the many medicinal plants. Lodge staff can connect you with a wide variety of touring options, as can Edward and Melissa Turton at the nearby Howler Monkey Lodge.