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Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary

The wetlands of Crooked Tree Wildlife Santuary (CTWS) are a birdwatcher's heaven.  Located 33 miles northwest of Belize City and just 2 miles off the Northern Highway, the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary provides an opportunity to view some of Belize's magnificent wildlife. Established in 1984 for the protection of resident and migrant birds, the sanctuary consists of a network of inland lagoons, swamps, and waterways.

In August 1998, the CTWS was declared Belize's first Ramsar site in recognition of its international importance for waterbirds.  During the dry season, thousands of birds congregate here, with migrants finding a safe resting spot on their spring migration back to the north.

A system of boardwalks allows you to walk through the lowland savannah and logwood forests with observation towers providing views across the lagoons.

Fauna and Flora

The variety of habitats in the Crooked Tree area provides food and homes for a diversity of fauna. Within the logwood swamps roost the nocturnal Boat-billed Herons as well as Chestnut-bellied Herons and Bare-throated Tiger-herons. Belize's two species of ducks, the Black-bellied Whistling-duck and the Muscovy , nest in trees along the swamps. Over the open water you will find many birds feeding on the abundant food resources the lagoons provide; Snail Kites, feeding exclusively on apple snails, the beautiful Snowy and Great Egrets fishing along the shoreline, all five species of Kingfishers, Ospreys and Black-collared Hawks diving toward the water's surface for a catch, are only a few of the birds that can be seen. Black Creek, with its large trees, provides a home for Black Howler Monkeys, Morelet's Crocodiles, Coatimundi, and several species of turtles and iguanas.

Jabiru Storks, the largest flying birds in the New World with a wing span of 10-12 feet, is also a redisdent of the sanctuary. Belize has the largest nesting population of these great birds in all of Central America. The storks arrive in November to nest in the lowland pine savannas. Two pairs are known to nest within the sanctuary. After the young fledge, in April and May, the birds from the northern and central parts of Belize congregate at Crooked Tree and Mexico lagoons. When the rains come, the birds leave to return again the following November.

Crooked Tree Village

Within the sanctuary is the village of Crooked Tree, established during the logwood era in Belizean history. Because of its relatively easy accessibility by boat, Crooked Tree was one of the first inland villages. Until recently Crooked Tree was still only accessible by boats which traveled up the Belize River and Black Creek. A 3 1/2 mile causeway now connects the village with the Northern Highway. Crooked Tree village is famous for its large mango and cashew trees.

Tourism is the fastest growing industry in the Crooked Tree area. Today many of the villagers still engage in traditional small scale farming, livestock rearing, and subsistence farming but increased visitation to CTWS and its visitors center has prompted some villagers to invest in the development of rustic touristic infrastructure and services.

Did You Know?

  • Crooked Tree Village is over 300 years old. Perhaps the oldest community in Belize.

  • The Sanctuary harbours the largest continuous stand of logwood in the country.

  • The Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary has the longest elevated interpretive boardwalk in the country.

  • The Santuary contains a Maya site, Chau Hiix, with a central pyramid which rises almost 80ft above the flat lagoon landscape.

Visitor's Information and Park Rules

Entrance fees are BZ$2 for nationals and BZ$8 for non-nationals.

Opening hours are 8am - 4:30pm.

To help us maintain the park's pristine condition we ask that all visitors observe the following regulations:

  • Please register at the visitor center.
  • Please do not harm/attempt to capture any animals or  birds.
  • Please do not disturb, collect or remove any plants or trees.
  • No fishing or hunting is allowed.
  • Do not litter. Leave trash in the bins provided.
  • No firearms are allowed.
  • Outside the village, please stay on the trails and boardwalks.

What to bring

Bring sturdy shoes, long sleeved shirt, long pants, insect repellent, sunscreen, and plenty of water.

All school groups are welcome; please register with our head office in Belize City, prior to your visit.