Are National Parks and Reserves Safe?


National parks in Belize are typically well maintained. In many of the national parks, Belize’s Forest Department has an agreement with a local community group that agrees to maintain the national parks. The Belize Audobon Society also manages some of the parks and national monuments. Not all of the parks have a lot of infrastructure, but the trails are usually marked.

Sunburn and pesky bugs are typically the only problems tourists encounter at Belize’s national parks. Make sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and insect repellent. Mosquitos and sandflies are some of the most common nuisances. There are also poisonous snakes in Belize, including the infamous fer-de-lance (known locally as a “Tommy Goff”), but you’re unlikely to see one. Nevertheless, err on the side of caution and bring a snakebite kit.

If you’re at a national park with a river or a lake, don’t assume that the water is safe. These bodies of water are often home to caimans, a relative of the alligator. When you visit a marine reserve, make sure you wear the proper equipment when you enter the water. Spiny sea urchins and sea anemones live on the ocean floor at reserves like South Water Caye and Hol Chan Marine Reserve, and they are quite painful to step on.

Parks with Maya monuments, such as Cahal Pech or the Caracol, often have armed guards. Unfortunately, robberies do occasionally take place around these highly trafficked areas. Remain with your tour group, and stay in the main plazas. Wandering alone to more remote parts of the site makes you more likely to be a victim of robbery.

You can make yourself less likely to be a victim of petty theft by taking common sense precautions. Leave flashy jewelry and technology at home. If you travel with a tour guide, you can always ask them about the risks at your destination.