A Birder's Guide to Belize

Corozal Town, Santa Rita, Four Mile Lagoon

[January 29]  In his log book for 1765, Captain James Cook wrote, “A magnificent lagoon at the south side of the river” and referred to it as La Laguna de Cuatro Millas.  Now the pretty blue lake attracts land developers eager to sell home lots along its shore.  Some immigrant Americans and Canadians have purchased lots, yet most lots remain vacant.  This morning the tall palm trees attract wintering warblers—we check off nine species—plus White-fronted Parrots, Blue-gray and Yellow-winged Tanagers, and Altamira Orioles.  I wander over to the next property, an RV campground I looked at six years ago and find Bill, the same owner I talked to then.  Bill is subdividing his land and selling off the lots.  I tell him the Captain Cook story and he says he has not heard about it before, but while developing his property he has discovered many artifacts:  Maya pottery, a nickel-sized ivory button perhaps left by pirates, a copper key slot perhaps pried from an unfound treasure chest, an iron dagger once part of a British musket, and, while snorkeling in the lagoon, rounded pieces of iron ore that served as ballast from transport ships.  All of these artifacts fit the history I have read about Four Mile Lagoon.

Rio Hondo and Four Mile Lagoon are the first birding sites when crossing from Mexico into Belize.  Access to Four Mile Lagoon seems to change yearly.  Try the old RV park, Laguna Shores development, or a dilapidated park for passage to the waterfront.  In addition to birding this area, check out the orange groves across Northern Highway and travel down the dirt road starting at mile 2.3 from the border.

Santa Rita, small by comparison to other Maya sites, is partially excavated, its jade and pottery artifacts now in museums.  Climbing the main temple you can oversee Chetumal Bay and Corozal Town, once part of the broad ancient Maya city called “Chactemal.”  Santa Rita dates to 2000 B.C. and was still occupied at the time Spanish explorers reached this area.  Part of a key commerce route, the Maya traded honey, vanilla, and cocoa.

Santa Rita is at the northern edge of Corozal Town, set on a hillside close to Northern Highway.  It has a pleasant park, about a square block in size with tall fruiting trees spreading over grass-covered mounds that hide ruins beneath.  The trees attract Masked Tityra, Baltimore Oriole, Grayish Saltator, Yellow-throated Euphonia, and a dozen other species. 

Caribbean Village Campground and RV Park is the longest established campsite and the first one available when crossing into Belize from Mexico.  A wooded area behind the campground supports Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Keel-billed Toucan, Collared Aracari, Black Catbird, and a good list of others.

Location: See the "Corozal Area" map in the book.  Four Mile Lagoon is at N 18 28.27' W 88 23.94' and is 6.7 miles north of the Texaco station in Corozal Town. Easily overlooked, Santa Rita Maya site is at N 18 24.10' W 88 23.70', with an entrance road from Northern Highway one mile north of the Texaco station in town. At the curve on the north side of Corozal Town, continue north for just 0.1 mile and look for the Super Santa Rita grocery on your left. Take the dirt road west for 0.2 mile and you will see the park on your right.  Heading south on the Northern Highway, the RV Park is at mile 9.2 at the south end of Corozal Town, N 18 22.99’ W 88 23.76’.  This is only 9 miles from the Mexico border.

Victor’s Inn & Foodery

Although not obvious from the road, a large campsite is behind the restaurant and inn, on a flat, hard surface.  A Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl calls at night and Gray-headed Kite and Collared Forest-Falcon call in the mornings.

Directions:  Off the Northern Highway near Orange Walk Town, exit the bypass at the roundabout at mile 37.4 in the direction of San Estevan.  Continue right at the “Y” a half-mile from the Northern Highway.  N 18 5.01' W 88 32.45'.

Inglewood Camping Grounds

Inglewood Camping Grounds is the best equipped RV park in Belize and hosts a resident Mottled Owl that can be heard at night and sometimes seen flying at dawn.  Plain Chachalacas visit at dusk.

Directions:  Heading west from San Ignacio, the entrance is at mile 56.1 on the Western Highway log.  N 17 8.34' W 89 5.25'.  This is only 7 miles from the Guatemala border.

ITVET campus

An excellent and newly constructed technical school, the entire area is enclosed by a high fence and 24-hour security guard.  The school welcomes RV’ers as a way to enhance their programs in tourism education and as a resource for ongoing funding.  Within two blocks of the RV campsite is Stann Creek and between the creek and the campsite some 84 bird species have been tallied, including Yellow-headed Parrot.

Directions:  The school is at mile 46.2 heading southeast on the Hummingbird Highway log, across from the intersection with the Coastal Highway.  N 16 59.82' W 88 18.99'.  This is about 8 miles from Dangriga.

Cuxlin Ha resort

Built along Jacinto Creek, the resort is not really a campsite, but readily accommodates RV’ers, including large rigs, with electrical cords and water hoses, but no sewage dump.  During a 2007 stay, 61 species were found at the resort, including Bare-throated Tiger-Heron, Ruddy Crake, Rufous-breasted Spinetail, and Crimson-collared Tanager.  A Striped Cuckoo called incessantly.

Directions:  Mile 90.3 on the Southern Highway log heading south and 4.6 miles from Punta Gorda.  The gravel access road is 2 miles long and can handle large rigs. 

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  Website created by Bert Frenz.  Last updated January 18, 2012.