The Belize Zoo, at Mile 29 on the Western Highway (daily 8am–5pm; Bz$20; belizezoo.org/index.php), is easily visited on a half-day trip from Belize City or as a stop on the way west. Probably the finest zoo south of the US, and long recognized as a phenomenal conservation achievement, the zoo originally opened in 1983. Now organized around the theme of “a walk through Belize”, the zoo offers the chance to see the country’s native animals at close quarters. Residents include tapirs, a wide variety of birds and all the Belizean cats. To get to the zoo take any bus between Belize City and Belmopan and ask the driver to drop you at the signed turn-off, a 200-metre walk from the entrance; you can leave your luggage at the visitors’ centre. If you’d like to stay overnight in the area, the zoo’s Jungle Lodge (t 220-8003, [email protected]), on the opposite side of the highway about 300m back towards Belize City, offers wooden dorms (US$30) with shared baths and hot showers. Guests can take a nocturnal tour of the zoo for Bz$30.

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