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“Be Careful” 2 of 5 stars
Review of Community Baboon Sanctuary

Community Baboon Sanctuary
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Type: Nature/ Wildlife Areas, Zoos & Aquariums
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Attraction details
Owner description: This reserve is home to more than 1000 howler monkeys and other animals.
Ellensburg, Washington, United States
Top Contributor
63 reviews 63 reviews
14 attraction reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
31 helpful votes 31 helpful votes
“Be Careful”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed February 25, 2012

We learned of this sanctuary from one of the major travel guide books. It is located near Burrell Boom. The premise is that a group of local farmers, with intentions of saving the howler monkey's (the locals call them baboons) habitat, have signed a pledge to leave portions of their property un-touched, thereby creating a "local sanctuary" for the baboons. We stopped in and paid our nominal entrance fee ($30 Belize) and off we went walking with our Guide, Geraldine. We crossed the street we drove in on, crossed a church lawn, another road, and then into jungle. We walked a while and she left us for a few moments presumably looking for monkeys. She returned with a handful of some type of leaf the monkeys love. We walked on - sometimes jumping over a little stream, over (already) downed barbed wire fence, across another road, and she walked ahead again. She called to us, having found some monkeys and we started toward her. At the same time we noticed a man nearing her and animated voices. The closer we got the more agitated the conversation became. He was accusing her of "trespassing" and complaining about "no give back to the community" and she continued to argue her point with him. As we joined them he directed his remarks to us and told us WE were trespassing. Several f-bombs were dropped. We didn't respond much other than to ask just where his property was. He didn't respond. We focused on the monkeys at that point and he started to return to ??? but not without threatening to shove my husband's camera up his...... We left and began walking back toward the visitor center. Geraldine was obviously shaken and explained that he was a caretaker, more or less, of a property of an ailing elderly woman who had indeed signed the pledge. But she also made remarks like "why they come after me?" "why is it always me?" leading one to believe this wasn't the first encounter. Our question is: Is this truly a "sanctuary" created by caring locals? Or is this just a half-baked scheme to compete for all the Belize Tourist dollars being spent on the countless "sanctuaries" across Belize? And though we did get up close and personal with some howler monkeys - quite the experience! - we have to wonder about the next time this guy gets agitated and accosts the guide and the visitors. Will he bring something other than his nasty mouth next time?

Visited February 2012
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80 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
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English first
albany, ny
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Amazing wildlife and guide”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 28, 2012

The community sanctuary was developed to protect the "baboons" (actually howler monkeys) from the destruction of their habitat. A tour of the natural jungle area is provided for about $8 Belize dollars and led by people with incredible knowledgeable about both the flora and fauna. It is not a zoo and everything is wild, but the guide can "call" the monkeys out of the trees and they get closer than anywhere I have seen except when they are in a cage. I believe they have a web page where more info is available, but I highly recommend the trip for anyone interested in the ecology of the planet -- or if you'd like to learn why the large pharmaceutical companies do not want the ancient knowledge of natural remedies to be widely distributed.

Visited January 2012
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Orange County, CA
19 reviews 19 reviews
7 attraction reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
“This was real Monkey Business!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 3, 2012

Our cruise ship took us to Belize City in Dec. 2011. The tours offered by the ship were costly and didn't sound all that intriguing. My wife and I along with another couple of friends opted to go it on our own. Belize City has a cruise ship dock which is fenced off from the normal city street. Once we passed through the cruise area and bypassed all the normal tour hawkers with their signs and brochures, we found ourselves walking along a street that looked rather dismal. Out of nowhere, after declining several would be guides with cars, we found a fellow who just had a feel of honesty to him. As we would find out as the day went on, we lucky to have connected with him! Raymond Vasquez and his slightly worn minivan gave us as much a tour as we ever could have hoped for at a rate of about $25 pp. He took us for at least 4 hours through the city, into the countryside and out to the Baboon Sanctuary that we had asked him about when we first met on the street. The Sanctuary is off a highway with ample signage. Raymond knew the operator well and introduced us to Shane. Now Shane has a whole project going on at this site. In addition to sharing the famed howler monkeys with guests, he also shares his vision of what will become of the site. Once you get by his Rastafarian beliefs and plans for the future, you will be treated to an excellent trail walk along the river in search of howler monkeys. Everyone gets a "bug swisher" made on the site from palm trees. Along the way Shane shows how well he has studied the environment by sharing fine details of the ecosystem in which he lives....land inherited from his family. All of a sudden, as the monkeys are spotted, Shane shifts into his lecture about these creatures he treats as close friends. He coaxes the females from the trees and allows guests to feed them small pieces of banana, a food he introduced to them. The alpha male, high in the trees and watching over his family, is hard to see at first but Shane taunts him into making noises that helped us pinpoint his location. Then Shane further taunts the male with grunts that cause the male to expel that loud howl that has made these moneys famous. It is an incredibly loud sound and Shane explains how it is that a monkey can make this noise. There are plenty of opportunities to get pictures and enjoy these creatures. Shane also called attention to the plant life in the area and the ant mounds that one needs to avoid. Of course, there are colorful Iguanas in the trees that make good photo subjects too. There was one plant that really intrigued me. When it is touched, the leaves of the plant move as if to protect itself. In earlier days, this thorny plant was planted as a barrier to keep slaves from running off into the jungles. Shane will share all of this info and more. The tour ends with the customary gift shop deal but the gifts all seemed to be made right there on site by Shane's relatives and friends. I bought a handmade bamboo mug for $10. All in all, this was a great little tour site and getting there with Raymond Vasquez made it simply perfect.

Visited December 2011
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne, Australia
Top Contributor
307 reviews 307 reviews
112 attraction reviews
Reviews in 122 cities Reviews in 122 cities
173 helpful votes 173 helpful votes
“Informed guides and you're almost sure to see howler monkeys”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 24, 2011

the info centre is small but has a decent amount of info on fauna of Belize. the guide was well informed and took us directly to a troop of howler monkeys (in one of the local preserved sections of jungle) who seemed habituated to being fed by the guide. the next day I ran into another group on a walking tour who seemed to have had more trouble locating the monkeys so I guess it's not a guaranteed thing (though they did come across them, and their guide similarly fed them leaves, towards the very end of their walk)

Visited December 2011
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2 reviews
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Could have stayed all day!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 6, 2011

The sanctuary is a local effort to keep forest intact and avoid destructive land management practices. Our local guide Russel was easy going and really provided us with a lot of info without us feeling rushed. The wild troupe of Black Howler Monkeys come out of the trees to observe and be observed. I was blown away at how close they came and was completely awe struck by them. This visit was one of only a few things that I HAD to do while in Belize and it did not disappoint. I will never forget the experience in my life and hope to go back again.

Visited November 2011
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