Picture yourself, walking through the jungle, hearing strange noises, loud screams in the distance, something you had never imagined. Surrounded by wilderness, you’ll feel like having just stepped into a Jurassic Park movie. But dinosaurs are not responsible for these screams, it must be something huge, and the guide keeps heading towards it. And then you see it, hidden in between branches, having a peaceful lunch while two dominant males are getting at it: the howler monkey.Read on to learn all there is to know about my Monkey River tour in Belize
The experience is unique, impressive even. The chill you’ll get down your spine the first time you hear it is priceless. Howler monkeys are small primate from the New World family found around Central America known for their distinctive scream, meant to dissuade any other dominant male from entering the family’s territory. You can learn more about the Howler Monkey here.
While in Belize, you cannot pass the opportunities to see Howler Monkeys, and one of the places you have the more chances to do so is at the Monkey River, near Placencia. There’s also a sanctuary near Belize City but seeing them in the wild is way more interesting.
Disclaimer: this post was kindly sponsored by Nite Wind Tours, as always all opinions are my own. This post may contain affiliate links.
You’ll need to book a tour with an agency in Placencia. I chose Nite Wind Tours for mine. It’s a half-day trip, starting with a boat ride on the river then a short trek.
The Monkey River tour starts in Placencia with a short boat ride to the entrance of the river, stopping at the village to pick up the local guide. Howler monkeys are not the only animals you’ll see during the day. Once you enter the Monkey River, the guide will start to look out for iguanas, crocodiles, birds, turtles, and bats.
The boat ride through the river is fantastic, once you pass the village there’s nothing, just lush jungle and birds singing.
The second part of the Monkey River tour is a trek through the jungle. There’s not a unique trail everyone follows, so it’s not overcrowed. The guide will look for monkeys and go wherever they are. Usually, monkeys stay near the river so you won’t have to walk to deep into the jungle.
If it has rained recently, I’d recommended having closed shoes, so it’s more comfortable when you have to step through the mud.
Hearing the howler monkeys is a unique experience, especially in the wild. We saw about 10 of them in different spots, some got really close to us, but they mostly ignore you and keep on eating.
Listen to their scream:
On the way back down the river, we spotted some more wildlife. We stopped in the village to have lunch. Lunch is not included so that tourists can have lunch at the restaurant there and, by doing so, supporting the community. While the idea is great, in my opinion, the food is overpriced, and the meal I had was plain (there’s no menu, only the dish of the day). I would advise you to take a big breakfast, bring some snacks, and have lunch when you get back to Placencia around 2 PM. If you want to support the village’s community, you can stop at the handicraft shop near the pier.
After lunch, we headed back to Placencia, trying to spot some manatees along the way. We had the chance to see several playing in the water, coming to the surface.
Overall, the Monkey River tour was great. It’s a unique opportunity to see wildlife and explore the jungle. Both the driver and the guide were friendly and knowledgeable, making the tour fun and exciting. They let us watch the monkeys as long as we wanted and could answer all of our questions about the monkeys.
So if you happen to be in Placencia don’t hesitate to contact Nite Wind Tours to plan your Monkey River Tour. They also offer snorkeling trips to the nearby Cayes, a must-do if you’re visiting Placencia.
What you’ll need to bring for your Monkey River tour:
- mosquito repellent (and a lot of it)
- water and snacks
- binoculars (always best to have a pair when trying to spot animals in the wild)
Related article to help you plan your trip to Belize:
- Placencia – Belize’s best beach destination
- Must-visit Maya ruins in Belize
- Hopkins – Heart of the Garifuna culture
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