Established in 1984, Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the best bird-watching spots in Central America. Built on a network of lagoons, swamps, and estuaries, the sanctuary is home to thousands of native and migratory birds, including the boat-billed heron, black-collared hawk, pygmy kingfisher, and rufous-tailed jacamars.
Explore the sanctuary with a guide or independently and discover wetlands full of wildlife. Stroll the Birdwalk, an elevated walkway that stretches 0.75 miles (1 kilometers) through the reserve. Travel by boat to see an abundance of waterbirds in their natural habitat. Visitors may also see the elusive Jabiru stork. Belize has the largest nesting population of these birds in Central America, and the Jabiru arrives in November to nest at the sanctuary.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The village within the sanctuary, Crooked Tree Village, is famous for cashews and hosts its Cashew Festival in May, featuring many products made from the nut.
- A trip to the sanctuary is a must for bird enthusiasts visiting Belize.
- Remember to bring insect repellent.
How to Get There
Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary is located 3 miles off the Philip Goldson Highway, about midway between Belize City and Orange Walk. From Belize City, it’s about 30 minutes’ drive. You can also book a tour that includes round-trip transportation. Bus services are available from Belize City to Crooked Tree Village as well.
When to Get There
The sanctuary is open daily from 8am to 4:30pm, and there is an admission fee. The visitors' center tends to close early in the day, so schedule your visit accordingly. The highest concentration of birds occurs around April, which is the end of dry season. The waters may be too shallow to explore by boat by the end of dry season, but you’ll still be able to wander on foot.
Bird lovers will also enjoy spotting exotic birds, howler monkeys, and other wildlife at Lamanai, a nearby Maya archaeological site. Lamanai also offers the opportunity to visit ceremonial pyramids, open-air plazas, a ball court, and other remnants of an ancient Maya civilization. Visitors can also explore three large temples, each with its own unique carvings and decorations.