12.6.08 Baboons, Zoo & Blue Hole, Belize!

Belmopan Travel Blog

 › entry 32 of 57 › view all entries
Baboon Sanctuary

12.6.08 Baboons, Zoo & Blue Hole, Belize

 

What a terrific day!  We got up close and personal with Howler Monkeys and a Jaguar!  Swimming was refreshing in the Blue Hole National Park, a sparkling cenote in the magical jungle!  It was a quintessential day indeed.

 

By 8am we were out the door into the humble office of the Community Baboon Sanctuary.  We paid our $28 U.

Baboon Sanctuary
S. for our guide Robert to take us for a short walk down the street and into the jungle.  Along the way he pointed out special medicinal and native plants, like the Mahogany Tree (called “Red Gold” for the value of the export), a special mimosa plant that would close up on itself when brushed across by a leaf (to catch flies), and the black orchid.  There were many more!  He was a wealth of knowledge.

 

Then he called the Howler Monkeys and they came right down to the lower limbs.  He picked leaves and let us feed them to the monkeys.  Occasionally, they would pee and one time they got Lia!  We got to see a mother with a little 5 week old baby, which was so little!  Robert made a noise and the dominant male would give the territorial yell back.  It was so awesome!  We were out for about an hour enjoying the monkeys and the jungle lessons.

 

Robert showed us how to use the soldier ants to stitch together a wound by plucking off its body so the mandibles locked closed.

Baboon Sanctuary
  We learned that a Jackass Plant leaf will instantly cure the sting of a fire ant bite (we need to export that to Texas!).  The Hot Lips plant leaves help a new mother feel better and certain plant leaves help a new baby sleep.  His mother was a nurse midwife and Robert had collected the specimens for her so he was very knowledgable.

 

We returned to the displays in the office and enjoyed reading about conservation efforts to reduce deforestation.  Also, repopulation of endangered species was covered.  Very interesting.  We left a donation using a U.S check so hopefully the funds will go directly to the conservation efforts.  They are a self-sustaining non-profit with now up to 3000 Howler Monkeys, which is a remarkable accomplishment since they began in 1985.  We bought some cashews, which are very labor-intensive and have an acid that burns the skin on the fingers.

Baboon Sanctuary
  The woman selling them laughed when Robert told us that, as she was sitting there picking the dead, white skin from her ebony fingers!  We also acquired a t-shirt from her.

 

By 10 am we were on the road heading to the Western Highway.  This “highway” was practically deserted.  About 15 miles out of Belize City is where our bypass meets up with it, and there were very few houses, people, and cars.  I don’t think there were any road lines or paint on most of it. 

 

By 11 am we pulled into the Belize Zoo!  This “best little zoo in the world” was $28 U.S. for the four of us and offered a $50 U.

Fun with Junior Buddy
S. opportunity for a close-up experience with a jaguar.  What a chance!  Well, we wanted to help with their conservation efforts and so the Zookeeper took us to Junior’s cage where he ran up on a log for us as instructed.  Junior was born in captivity and was relatively trained, but we were always protected from him. 

 

After this exhibit, another zookeeper put Junior in his cage and we walked through his pen to another cage that we hopped inside.  Then the other zookeeper let Junior out where he rolled over as instructed.  We got to feed him chicken pieces through the cage!  Then he hopped up on the cage and licked the zookeepers head!  When he licked Jazy’s head, he got her bangs and started eating them before the zookeeper pulled them back and scolded Junior!  We didn’t go for the head-licking after that!   Ha! 

 

We got to feel his fur while he was chewing on the chicken bone and were warned to keep hands from his mouth.

Fun with Junior Buddy
  He was so massive and his fur so soft- just a beautiful creature!  The process was reversed for our retreat from the cage.  Amazing!

 

Then the Zookeeper took us to see “Wild Boy” who was their first jaguar from 15 years ago.  He said that we’d see the difference in how the two cats took the chicken bone.  Junior had been taught from an early age to be gentle and slow.  Well Wild Boy about snapped off his fingers!  Wow- we weren’t about to try to feed him after that.  Wild Boy also did very graceful rolls for us, while Junior was flipping over his head and lolling about.  Very funny.  Wild Boy was right above us at about 7’ up and we could stand on the log stumps to get really close.  He was beautiful!

 

We tipped our Zookeeper Guide who obviously had wanted us to enjoy our time with the jaguars and he seemed pleased.

  Then we enjoyed the other magnificent animals of the zoo.  The black jaguar was unfortunately ill and they had her in a special place awaiting lab results.  We were sad to miss that special cat.  But we did enjoy so many exotic animals native to Central America!  Macaws, magnificent Harpy Owls including “Panama” with his new girlfriend, crocodiles, pumas, ocelots, grey fox, bores, anteaters, javelins, parrots, and “Boomer” and “Bert” who were enormous Jabiru Storks.

 

In the gift shop, we got some magnificent finds from the local bakery:  the world’s best Banana Bread, cookies, and cinnamon rolls.  Another t-shirt, some special Belize sauce, and a key chain completed our effort to help the Belize economy.  It was a terrific zoo and we appreciated their conservation efforts.

  It was started in the 1980’s by a woman who came to Belize to do a documentary but then the program was cancelled, leaving 20 animals in her care.

 

By 2 pm we headed past Belpoman, the country’s small capital, and then south on the Hummingbird Highway. 

 

By 3 pm we pulled into the Blue Hole National Park Visitor’s Center, a small wooden building with another housing some displays.  We bought tickets for the park, which allowed us to swim in the blue hole (this afternoon) and then hike the cave (in the morning), since we couldn’t do both before dark.

 

The Blue Hole National Park (not the same as the atoll off the coast by the Cayes) is a cenote where the roof collapsed (limestone hole), and it is in the middle of the jungle.

Rich and Jessica from England
  It is a half mile from the Cave where the water runs underground to feed it.  An amazing color, the blue hole’s water was in the 70’s and was delightful swimming in the jungle.  A cave around the river was spooky and we got just close enough to get the shivers.

 

We ended up at Ian Anderson’s Resort for the night.  It is a lodge in the jungle just 100 yards south of the Blue Hole swimming area.  We wouldn't recommend them as they've moved far from their model and security ends at 11pm and check-in required too much effort, but we're happy to have a place to sleep. (Note:  Sunday thru Thursday, an attendant at the Blue Hole Visitor's Center allows RV's to overnight there since he is on-site.  He charges $5 per person- I don't remember if that was U.S. or Belize).  I would try 5 Blue Lakes next time.

 

Today we saw our British friends (from Corozal) both at the Belize Zoo and here.

Blue Hole National Park
  They are really nice and I suspect we’ll continue running into them along the way to Panama, where they plan to sell their Alaskan van and then fly on the South America before heading back to England.

 

By the way, last night, I did get to hear the amazing roar of the Howlers.  Then I saw the local dog streak across the yard and soon, 5 unaccompanied horses trotted up and proceeded to eat grass at the blue house’s lawn.  Lia this morning saw someone come and drag one of the horses back home.  Too funny!  We laugh at how in Alaska, we tried to catch a little dog running loose, but the people we told informed us kindly that they don’t have “leash laws” around there.  We’re getting used to see all dogs running around wherever, but the horses still surprised me.

 

Our plan is to spend one more day tomorrow (Sunday) in Belize, with tomorrow night near San Ignacio at Inglewood Campground.

Blue Hole National Park
Then we’ll head into Tikal Monday morning.

 

Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Baboon Sanctuary
Baboon Sanctuary
Baboon Sanctuary
Baboon Sanctuary
Baboon Sanctuary
Baboon Sanctuary
Baboon Sanctuary
Baboon Sanctuary
Fun with Junior Buddy
Fun with Junior Buddy
Fun with Junior Buddy
Fun with Junior Buddy
Rich and Jessica from England
Rich and Jessica from England
Blue Hole National Park
Blue Hole National Park
Blue Hole National Park
Blue Hole National Park
Belmopan
photo by: bluemarbletreader