A howler monkey at the Community Baboon Sanctuary. Photo © Lebawit Lily Girma.

The Best Wildlife Spotting in the Belize Cayes

Filled with national parks and wildlife reserves, Belize home to an estimated 145 species of mammals, 139 species of reptiles, and at least 500 species of birds, many of which can be spotted along the cayes. An island vacation doesn’t mean missing out on any of the wildlife—here is what to look out for both inland and offshore.

Topography surrounding San Vito. Photo © Eric T Gunther (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

San Vito and Las Cruces Biological Station

San Vito is a pleasant hill town founded by Italian immigrants to Costa Rica in the early 1850s. Nearby you’ll find the Estación Biológica Las Cruces, a nature lover’s delight. This 800-acre forest reserve is a vital habitat for hundreds of species of butterflies and bats, and dozens of birds and mammals. Visit for miles and miles of well-maintained trails and the chance to spot these creatures and to enjoy the gardens inside the reserve.

View from the path to Laguna Verde. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Hiking to Laguna Verde

The hike up to Colombia’s sulfurous Laguna Verde, a dazzling, emerald green crater lake on the north side of the dormant Volcán Azufral, is easy to make from Pasto. A sacred site for the Pasto indigenous people, the volcano is part of the Nudo de los Pastos mountain range and requires some preparation and an afternoon to scale.

A woman crosses a hanging rope bridge amidst lush green trees.

Exploring Monteverde’s Cloud Forest

Monteverde means “Green Mountain,” an appropriate name for one of the most idyllic pastoral settings in Costa Rica. The Monteverde cloud forest is home to more than 100 species of mammal, 400 species of bird, and has eight miles of trails to hike either on your own or with a guide; expect to spot more wildlife with a guide. Here’s what you need to plan a fulfilling visit.

The Berylline hummingbird is one of several species in Guatemala. Photo © Al Argueta.

The Best Bird-watching in Guatemala

Guatemala’s wide diversity of ecosystems makes it a birding hot spot—more than 700 species of birds can be found here. Avid bird-watchers consider this paradise, though novices can easily center an entire Guatemala vacation around birding. From cloud forests to wetlands, rare sightings and common delights, here’s where to go for the best bird-watching in Guatemala.

Judy Arroyo with rescued sloths at the Sloth Sanctuary. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Costa Rica Nature Reserves: Puerto Limón to Cahuita

Nature reserves south of Puerto Limón in Colombia tend to be remote and undeveloped, making them perfect for adventure travel. The one exception is the world’s only sloth sanctuary, an education and research center based around rehabilitating rescued sloths that amounts to a highly-fulfilling experience for visitors.

Aerial view of northern cayes. Photo © Lebawit Lily Girma.

Where to Go in the Belize Cayes

Regardless of where you go in the Belize Cayes, days are spent alfresco: kayaking, sailing, fishing, feasting on fresh catch, swimming alongside rays and turtles, gazing at magnificent frigatebirds hovering in blue skies. Or mastering the art of dolce far niente: the sweetness of doing nothing. Here’s an overview of island highlights.

A scenic highway leads south from Petén into Alta Verapaz. Photo © Al Argueta.

Las Verapaces: Guatemala’s Green Heartland

Las Verapaces remains green and lush throughout most of the year. From exploring beautiful cloud forests to remote hikes to discovering a lagoon in the middle of the rainforest, outdoor enthusiasts will find no shortage of vibrant, unique landscapes to experience. Here’s a sampling of the best.

The red-tailed tropicbird is Bermuda's national bird. Photo © BlueOrange Studio/123rf.

Birds in Bermuda

Bird-watching enthusiasts will find plenty to marvel over in Bermuda. Expert author Rosemary Jones gives an overview of the species you’re likely (and not!) to spot, the best times of year to go bird-watching, and where to go.

Lily pads at Victoria Regia. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Sight-Seeing Along the Río Amazonas

Several sights provide excellent photo ops along the Río Amazonas westward from Leticia to the Parque Amacayacu. These are usually visited as part of a package one-day tour offered by all hotels and travel agencies, but for greater flexibility and to avoid feeling part of the herd you can charter your own boat. To be specific about where you want to go and to negotiate a good price, here’s an overview and highlights of the area.