Shipstern Nature & Wildlife Reserve - Everything You Need to Know

Shipstern Nature & Wildlife Reserve

Currently officially known as the Shipstern Conservation and Management Area, Shipstern is a large area of land of 21,500 acres (8,700 ha) in Belize’s northern Corozal District. Although not contiguous in design, Shipstern is centered on the Shipstern Lagoon, one of the largest inland lagoons in the country. The conservation area is designed to protect rare forest trees, including seasonal and dry coastal tropical varieties.

Why You Have to Visit Shipstern Nature and Wildlife Reserve on Your Vacation

Although Shipstern is owned and managed by a private NGO, the Belizean government considers the reserve to be one of the top 10 most important sites of its kind in the country.

Shipstern is most famous for its large variety of birds that make their home in the reserve, at least 300 in total, including egrets, parrots, warblers, flycatchers, toucans and American coots. The reserve is also home to raccoons, pumas, deer, peccaries, armadillos, tapirs, crocodiles, manatees and jaguars.

One of the most popular attractions in Shipstern is a butterfly farm adjacent to the visitor center where butterflies are being bred for trade with the United States, Europe and Asia.

Where in Belize Is Shipstern Nature and Wildlife Reserve Located?

The entrance to Shipstern is 3.5 miles (6 km) from the village of Sarteneja in Corozal District.

When Is the Best Time to Visit Shipstern Nature and Wildlife Reserve

The Butterfly Breeding Center is open from 9:am to 12:00 and 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm daily. The reserve is only open during daylight hours but night hikes can be arranged with permission from Shipstern.

Best Way to Get to Shipstern Nature and Wildlife Reserve

From the village of Sartaneja, it’s possible to walk to the reserve. There is also a daily bus that leaves Belize City to Sartenaja, with a stop at Orange Walk Town.


By car, Shipstern is one hour from Orange Walk Town and two hours Belize City. Due to seasonal variations and road quality, only four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended.

Best Way to Experience Shipstern Nature and Wildlife Reserve

Start at the visitor’s center at the entrance to the reserve and then visit the nearby butterfly center, home to more than 200 species. From there, visitors can follow the well-marked Chiclero Botanical Tool to see a variety of medicinal plants and the birds, amphibians and mammals that inhabit the reserve. Guided tours of the reserve are available for a fee.

Contact us if you have questions or need assistance in planning a visit to Shipstern Nature and Wildlife Reserve.


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