Tucked away on a red dirt road is the small Maya village of Red Bank. Here, at the edge of the Maya Mountains, rare and impressive scarlet macaws gather to feed on the ripe fruits of polewood trees outside the village.
This annual phenomenon was unknown to outsiders until 1997, when conservationists learned 20 birds had been hunted for table fare; at that time it was thought Belize had a population of 30 to 60 scarlet macaws!
In response, Programme for Belize worked with the village council to form the Red Bank Scarlet Macaw Conservation Group, led by the village leader Geronimo Sho.
The small community-based ecotourism industry offers visitors accommodations, meals, crafts, and guide services. A reserve has been established about a mile from the village and visitors must pay a small conservation fee; ask around for Mr. Sho.
The best time to visit is sometime from mid-January to March, when the annatto fruits are ripe. As many as 100 scarlet macaws have been observed in the morning when the birds are feeding.
Dial the Red Bank community phone (tel. 501/503-2233) if you would like to make a reservation at the Red Bank Bed and Breakfast.
© Joshua Berman and Avalon Travel from Moon Belize, 9th Edition