When I was planning my trip to Central America, I wanted to go to the highlights but left some time to do unplanned activities as well. You have to do this when you are traveling for 9 weeks, you can’t plan every day. A woman in San Ignacio pointed out to me the idea to go to the Belize Zoo. I gathered more information about this Zoo and the option to stay very close to the Zoo in a jungle style environment. That sounded great, after the more city vibe of San Ignacio. Still had a day left before leaving to Caye Caulker so that was set and done! And that resulted in a very good decision after all.
Transport is very easy, taking the local chicken bus from San Ignacio to the Belize Zoo that runs every 30 minutes and will take more than one hour. Don’t take the fast bus in San Ignacio, they skip the Belize Zoo. The same drill if you want to travel further, in my instance to Caye Caulker. The TEC dropped me off at the main road to catch the bus to Belize City (40 min) where I took the boat to Caye Caulker. The bus costs are around 4-6B$ for both tracks.
Belize Zoo by Day
I arrived in the afternoon at the Belize Zoo, where transport picked me up to bring me to the Tropical Education Center (TEC) accommodation 2 km into the jungle. After checking in, at 14:00PM they brought me back for visiting the park (30B$). The Zoo is not too big and feels like a big garden with tropical animals in it. The Belize Zoo houses over 175 animals; which were rescued, orphaned, born at the zoo, rehabilitated animals, or sent as donations from other zoological institutions. I have seen mammals, reptiles and birds; including the national bird of Belize the Toucan! The Zoo houses a couple of Tapirs; the Belizean relative of the rhino that looks like it’s mixed with a horse.
You can easily walk through the Zoo by yourself; all is well explained and you get a map so you can see all the animals and don’t miss out on anything. I loved the signs in the Zoo; very clear and educative in a simple way. The Zoo had a great vibe and was not busy at all. I stayed in the park for 2,5 hours including buying a drink at the restaurant. I was looking forward to come back in the evening to get a tour in the dark!
Belize Zoo by Night
Via my TEC accommodation I booked a night tour through the Zoo for 40B$ (>5 persons on tour). We left with a group of 10 to the Zoo at 19:00PM just after dinner. The tour guide brought a lamp and food to feed to the animals. He explained a lot about the animals and fed the animals; which we could touch too! Most of the animals became very active at night; some I could barely see during the day. A great addition to your visit during the day!
I loved the Tropical Education Center (TEC) or also called the Belize Zoo Lodge!! I slept in the middle of the jungle and heard all the animals around me. The TEC was built to house, educate and create awareness for the wildlife conservation. It provides tourists, students, and researchers the opportunity to lodge in the wild jungle of Belize!
The Centre offers different kind of housings like the forest cabañas, dormitories, guest houses and cabins; all within the price range from 40US$ to 100US$. The TEC offers dinner and breakfast in the common area which are included in the room price.
I loved the whole concept; I run into two girls from the US that are doing an internship at the Zoo and slept at the TEC as well. So all animal lovers should visit this unique spot.