The First Encounter
I had been in Belize for less than 24 hours when I heard a loud deep pig squeal coming from the sky. What the heck is that? I thought. Wandering closer to the source of the sound I still could not figure out what was making it. As I approached the boundary of my resort I saw a group of locals clustered around the base of a tree. Seeing me, they ushered me over in hushed Spanish. Crawling over a low stone fence I joined them and followed their pointed fingers up into a tree. There a few meters above me as a group of black monkeys. “Baboons,” one of the locals said. Nodding my smiling face I pressed my camera’s viewfinder to my right eye and snapped photo after photo of the dark masses in the tree.
These were the first monkeys I had ever seen in their natural habit. Welcome to Belize!
While I was in Belize I saw a ton of Baboons. I saw them near my hotels, at Mayan ruins, and in the jungle. They were literally everywhere! And, every time I heard their distinctive howl my eyes went immediately to the tree tops hoping to catch a glimpse.
As a huge animal lover, I was excited to travel to Belize and see unfamiliar wildlife. At home in British Columbia, I see deer, bears, coyotes, and marmots on a regular basis. These animals are cute, however, after seeing them for years I was more than ready to experience the more exotic creatures of Central America. Belize did not disappoint. During my ten days in the country, I saw birds aplenty, crocodiles, hundreds of fish, turtles, rays, nurse sharks, and most fascinatingly monkeys.
About the Baboons & Where to See Them
The monkeys of Belize are referred to as Baboons in the local Creole dialect but, they are in fact Black Howler Monkeys. There are no true Baboons in Belize. The endangered Black Howler Monkey can be found in Belize, Southern Mexico, and Northern Guatemala. They are one of two monkeys that can be spotted within Belize’s borders. The second being the Spider Monkey.
One of the best places to learn about and view Black Howler Monkeys is the Community Baboon Sanctuary. Located about 45 minutes from Belize City in Bermudian Landing, the Sanctuary focuses on conservation, education, research, and tourism. The organization works with over 200 land owners to set aside habitat for the monkeys and provides guided tours to travelers.
During my time at the Sanctuary, I saw one lone male monkey as well as a family of about 10 individuals. My guide also pointed out a ton of different birds and plants during our walk through a thin stretch of preserved jungle. It was amazing to see the diversity of flora and fauna in this small section of set aside habitat. The cherry on top of the tour was spotting the Black Howler Monkeys.