Many people come to Belize to enjoy maritime activities like snorkeling and scuba diving on the offshore islands but fail to realize just how much there is to do and see on the mainland.
A trip to Belize requires several nights on the mainland as accessing mainland tours – such as Maya Ruins, cave tours and wildlife sanctuaries – becomes time consuming and costly with local flights and water taxis from the Cayes (keys).
More than half the country is covered in lush rainforest or jungle, a dense habitat home to an incredible variety of exotic wildlife. The Belize rainforest hides much more than stealthy crocodiles or nocturnal tapirs. It’s also where you’ll find magnificent cities built by the ancient Maya, some of which were once home to hundreds of thousands of people.
Belize was first settled by English sailors who were drawn to the area primarily for the trees in Belize. Towering species like mahogany were once logged extensively in the country but are now carefully protected by the government. Mahogany and other tree specimens are home to many of Belize’s more than 600 bird species, including brightly colored toucans, parrots, and macaws.
A great introduction to the wildlife of the Belize rainforest is the Belize Zoo. Despite its name, the Belize Zoo is more of a rescue and rehabilitation center, housing over 100 different indigenous species in their natural habitat. The Belize Zoo is where you can see some of the most elusive animals in the rainforest like jaguars, coatimundis, and jaguarundis.
For a less structured experience, the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary (CBWS) measures over 150 square miles (400 square km) in size and is home to a pristine environment of thick forests, wetlands, alpine hikes, and hidden waterfalls. The CBWS is also home to the world’s only dedicated jaguar conservation project where scientists track more than 200 jaguars as they roam through the rainforest.
Some of the sites in the jungle are less showy, including more than 4,000 different species of tropical flowers that bloom in this incredible environment. Belize’s national flower, the black orchid, is just one of more than 250 orchid species indigenous to Belize. Bird watching is also a popular activity in the rainforest, and even first-time birders can usually spot over 50 different species in a single morning.
If you’re looking for a great Belize jungle resort, choose the Belize Boutique Resort and Spa. The resort is located right in the heart of the Belize jungle on a gorgeous 1,000-acre property just a few miles from the Belize International Airport. The resort offers a wide variety of Belize rainforest tours, visits to ancient Maya sites and the best spa in the country of Belize.