Welcome to Crooked Tree Village, a neighborhood of friendly people… and wildlife!
Believe it or not, Crooked Tree is actually an inland island. It is surrounded by Revenge Lagoon, Northern Lagoon, Western Lagoon and Spanish Creek. Crooked Tree is located 33 miles north of Belize City and two miles off the Northern Highway, connected by a one mile causeway.
Crooked Tree has become known as a wildlife sanctuary and its annual Cashew Festival. The sanctuary is managed by The Audubon Society since 1984 when the Forestry Department declared the area protected under the Wildlife Protection Act. The sanctuary is home to the famous “Jabiru Stork”, the largest bird in the Western Hemisphere. The Jabiru has a wing span of 10-12 feet and is listed as an endangered species. Around the lagoons you will find many other birds feeding on the abundant food resources that the lagoons provide; the Great Egrets, Kingfishers, Ospreys, Black Hawks and many more. The entire area is a must see for international birders.
The traditional way of life for the villagers has always been hunting, fishing and farming. When the area was declared a protected sanctuary, the villagers viewed it as a declaration of war, as they felt that their livelihood and lifestyle was being threatened. A compromised was reached with the Audubon Society, whereas, the villagers are allowed to hunt and fish on a “needs” basis to meet their domestic demands.
The Cashew Festival is an annual celebration of the harvesting of the cashew nuts and is held the first weekend in May. The festival started with one man’s vision, Mr. Rudy Crawford who initially thought that his village could be self-sustaining. The festival is a community event to market their local products from the Cashew crops and includes roasted cashew nuts, cashew wine, cashew jam, cashew cake and an assortment of local delicacies. Preparing the nut is a very lengthy process which requires a lot of patience. It is roasted over an open fire, after which it is broken from its outer shell and roasted in an oven. Because it is so time consuming, it makes it very expensive on the open market.
Here’s a list of visitor’s information and sanctuary rules while visiting Crooked Tree Village Wildlife Sanctuary.
Entrance fees are Bz$2.00 for nationals and BZ$8.00 for non-nationals. Opening hours are 8 a.m-4:30 p.m.
To help maintain the sanctuary’s pristine condition, we ask that all visitors observe the following regulations.
Please register at the visitor’s center.
Please do not harm or capture any animals or birds.
Please do not collect or remove any plants or trees.
No fishing or hunting for non-nationals.
No firearms allowed.
Do not litter and please leave trash in bins provided.
Please stay on the trails and boardwalks. Bring sturdy shoes, sunscreen, insect repellent and plenty of water.
No matter what time of the year you visit, Crooked Tree Village is a pleasant experience with friendly people and natural beauty. Linda Crawford signing off!