On the banks of Bermuda Landing, Belize District, an eco-tourism project offers and unexpected greeting from black howler monkeys living within this sanctuary.
The Community Baboon Sanctuary is a quick jog west from Burrel Boom, one of the main roads en route from the Belize International Airport to Hidden Valley Inn. The diversion is best done either coming or going into the Maya Mountains. The short tour costs just $7.00 per person and takes about an hour, but the opportunity to see these howlers climb down from the trees
to meet the guide is truly amazing.
The tour begins with an overview of the program, which is a wonderful example of community based opportunity. The CBS benefits the seven villages that participate through its tourism dollars, the monkeys, the surrounding area, as it keeps the trees and wilderness protected, and educational awareness.
Our guide, Robert Panting, took us through the trails, whipping away bugs with the shredded palm brush made from cahone (note: bug spray is a must). After a brief walk along a village residence and into the trails that wind through the sanctuary, Mr. Panting called for "his fuzzy friends." At first I thought he was calling for his dogs, but then the leaves began to part and branches began to sway as the monkeys made their way down through the tress, this time, a mother, baby and the alpha male.
Seeing the monkeys come to greet you is an incredible experience, but hearing them is a whole other treat. "The more the monkey howls, the louder the howl gets," says Mr. Panting as he cups his hands and imitates the roar in his best monkey call.
The howler monkey warms up has throat and, with a force that seems to fill every crevice of his body with air, a low and raspy, echoing howl lets out. See him howl in my video here.
You will see the monkey from time to time at Caracol, Xunantunich, along the rivers and in the jungles of Belize, but usually not at this distance (even at the zoo). The trip earns 4.5 stars from Trip Advisor and 5 from me.