|Belize Zoo – Don't miss the Belize Zoo with animals native to Belize in a natural forest setting. Kids will see cats of Belize – jaguar, ocelot, margay, jaguarundi and puma – as well as the "muddy boys," peccaries lolling in the mud, tapirs snacking on red papaya, shy spider monkeys, colorful scarlet macaws, a majestic black and white Jabiru stork, and crafty American crocodile that looks as if he'd eaten Captain Hook's arm. Two animals new to us – a yellow and black tayra and breathtaking harpy eagle with huge wings and claws.
|Animals are identified with hand-written funny, rhyming signs. For example:
|I am a tayra.
Or call me bushdog!
I like to climb trees
Eat fruits and frogs.
We bushdogs are cool!
So we ask you. Please!
Protect our jungles
in beautiful Belize.
|Tip: Sign up for animal encounters to feed a scarlet macaw, hold a boa constrictor, feed a tapir, and get close to a jaguar.
|Outside the zoo are shaded picnic tables (no food inside the zoo).
|Community Baboon Sanctuary (Bermudian Landing) – No baboons here, this is a conservation effort for black howler monkeys, to preserve the tree habitat the monkeys need to survive.
|In visitor center are exhibits about the history of the project and information about howler monkeys and Creole culture of Belize. Look up at the roof, where whole bunch of little fruit bats hang upside down.
|With your guide, walk out into the rain forest. It took a few minutes, but our guide located a troop of seven howler monkeys – one male, two females, four juveniles, and one baby (5 months old). We saw the monkeys hanging by their tails eating leaves, the baby curled up next to mom, and others sleeping on branches (without falling off!). A truly memorable experience to see howler monkeys so close.
|Also, along with the monkeys on the branches, right in front of us was an iridescent hummingbird, sitting on a tiny nest with two little eggs.
|For more information about the sanctuary, click here.
|Old Belize - Take a self-guided tour through colorful exhibits that re-create Belize culture and history: Maya farm house and tomb of a Maya ruler, the Garifuna people, descendents of Carib Indians and African slaves, and 19th century Belize town, sugar and saw mills.
|Then head next door to Cucumber Beach, with a large enclosed lagoon, huge water slide, and restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, ice cream and cold drinks.
|Altun Ha – If kids haven't had a chance to see any of the Maya ruins in Belize, Altun Ha is a good choice. The ruins are close to the coast, an easy day trip if you are staying on the islands, or convenient to visit on your way to the airport.
|Altun Ha was built more than 2,000 years ago, rebuilt over the next 1200 years, and ultimately abandoned. Along with ceremonial functions and important tombs, Altun Ha was a trading center (goods were loaded on canoes and transported by sea).
|In Plaza B, climb up to the top of the biggest structure, the Temple of Masonry Altars (also called the Sun God's Tomb). Jaguar skins, jade jewelry and a nine lb. jade head of the Maya sun god were found in a tomb underneath the temple. (See a replica of the jade head and burial in the Museum of Belize.) At the bottom of the temple on either side are large carved masks, also representing Maya gods.
|After exploring Plaza B, follow the sign that says "Pond," and walk down a short trail through the rain forest. Here you can see Maya engineering at work – Rockstone Pond is a reservoir built by the Maya, filled with spring water and rain runoff.
|Museum of Belize (Belize City) – Stop into this museum to see artifacts from the Maya archeological ruins in Belize – a stunning red-and-white painted vase of the Hero Twins, jade funerary mask from Cahal Pech, mosaic mask from Santa Rita, jade head (replica) and tomb setting from Altun Ha, and other fabulous Maya pottery creations. Also, bug lovers will enjoy the collection of insects of Belize. The museum is closed on Sunday and Monday.