We recently returned from a quick trip to Belize, a country that I did not know anything about. That was a shame, because Belize is a lovely place with lots to see and do.
The post is mainly an excuse to post some animal pictures.
The Toucan is the national bird of Belize. I did see 2 in the wild but only while we were driving so this is one from the Belize Zoo, a place that I can heartily recommend.
I am not a fan of zoos in general, but the Belize Zoo is a charming establishment - small but very well laid out. Unfortunately we visited on a grey day so most of my pictures did not come out very well but we saw tapirs, jaguars, jaguarundi, pumas, as well as various birds including the frankly terrifying Harpy Eagle.
Another place we visited was the slightly more downmarket San Ignacio Resort Hotel Green Iguana Conservation Project. We were staying near San Ignacio (itself an interesting place to visit) so we stopped by for one of their hourly tours.
As we shuffled into the iguana enclosure I was expecting to be told that these are wild animals that should not be bothered too much. Not so! Our guide, who seemed really into iguanas basically ordered us to touch, grab, pet, and fondle the iguanas. He didn't mention french kissing the Iguanas but he did not say not too, either.
Once we had finished molesting the fully grown iguanas he took us to see the babies. Surely these delicate creatures were off limits?
Baby iguanas turn out to be lots of fun - inquisitive and fearless. The whole tour group was soon covered in half a dozen little green dragons each.
I didn't get any good photos but on a canoe trip up the river we were staying on we saw a troupe of howler monkeys travelling trough the jungle above the banks. We heard them every night from our room but only managed to see them twice on the trip.
My favourite animal in Belize is something completely different. I remember being very small and watching a documentarymost likely David Attenborough's Life on Earth that showed leafcutter ants doing their thing. Ever since then, the leafcutter ant has loomed in my imagination occupying the same mental space as unicorns and dragons. I assumed that something so marvelous must exist only in some inaccessible part of the deepest jungle.
Nope again - they are everywhere in Belize.
They are every bit as amazing as I had been led to believeI knew Attenborough wouldn't lie to me. They create long paths through the jungleOne guide said they can be over a mile long which seems implausible until you actually see them in action about 2 inches wide they are completely clear of vegetation. Once they find a tree they like they just march straight up. It is really quite a sight to see hundreds of thousands of ants marching down a tree trunk carrying what must be kilograms worth of foliage in total.
We were told that they can play havoc with vegetable gardens, which I can certainly see happening.