The Guanacaste National Park is located on the Western Highway, just outside of Belmopan, Belize’s capital. It is easily accessible by public transportation, and is only about 9 miles from Lower Dover. Entrance is only $5 belize ($2.50USD) for foreigners, and it is a great place to spend half a day.
The park was declared a National Park in 1990, and is sponsored by the Belize Audubon Society. It’s a great place for bird watchers, and the Audubon society conducts their yearly christmas bird count at the park.
There are two main trails at the park, the first is a small loop that takes you along the Belize River to a bird watching platform with access to the river.
The first trail, the Guanacaste trail, features a 360 year old Guanacaste that is gigantic and it’s where the park gets its namesake from. Sadly the tree is dead, but the trunk remains as a testament to this giant. It is so big, we couldn’t even get the whole tree in the frame.
The trail only takes about 20 or so minutes to walk without any stops, but we highly recommend bringing your swimming trunks, as the access point to the Belize River is one of the nicest natural swimming areas we’ve seen in Belize.
The trails are well defined, and even novice hikers, children and the elderly can enjoy a nice jungle stroll. We heard howler monkeys on our hike, but we didn’t see them. Wildlife is flourishing in the park, and you’re sure to see some jungle creatures on your walk.
Although the giant Guanacaste tree is no longer alive, there are many other mature Guanacastes in the park, along with a plethora of other tree species, all clearly marked by signs.
The second trail, the Life Cycle Trail, is about double the size of the first, and takes approximately 45 minutes to an hour to walk. We really enjoyed our walk through this trail, as the surrounding jungle is a bit more dense, and you make your way through different types of forest growth.
Along the second trail, you’ll also encounter some very cool wooden bridges.
We also spotted one of the coolest spiders we’ve seen, and even the rangers we’re intrigued with the find. If you know the type of spider please let us know in the comment section.
We highly recommend the Guanacaste National Park if you have a couple hours of free time while you’re in western Belize. It can easily be combined with a trip to the Belize Zoo, or Blue Hole National Park. If you want to read more about Guanacaste trees, we did a post about them last week, and you can find it by clicking here.