Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the most expansive and beautiful parks within the country of Belize, beginning along the Caribbean coastline and rising along the Maya Mountains. Despite being without roads, businesses or even hunters, the Basin is world famous for being the sole nature reserve within the region that features free-roaming jaguars.
Whether you want to go on a short day hike or an adventure taking several days, Cockscomb Basin affords visitors plenty of chances to see tropical birds, waterfalls, mountain views, ancient forests and a veritable menagerie of creatures like amphibians, butterflies, deer, monkeys, reptiles and, the national animal, tapirs.
The area occupies more than 150 square miles and was the home of the Maya empire some 100 centuries ago. Nowadays, Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is among the most important natural habitats within Belize, possessing a vibrant biome that allows exotic flora and fauna to thrive. The reserve’s name comes from the nearby Cockscomb Mountain Ridge, so named for its resemblance to the comb atop a rooster’s head.
It takes around two hours of driving from Dangriga to reach the sanctuary by way of Hummingbird Highway. The entrance of this site is occupied by a traditional Maya village where the residents show off their gardens and homemade trinkets.
After reaching the park, participants are given a short orientation that includes a viewing of the cages reserve founder Dr. Alan Robinowitz used to store animals. After orientation concludes, tourists will follow a guide and hike the well-worn trail. Over the tour’s course, the guide will inform about any of many interesting flora or fauna native to the area. At the hike’s conclusion, participants are treated to a home-cooked meal.
Once lunch has finished, the tour takes on an aquatic aspect. Participants will clamber aboard inner tubes for a leisurely trip along the South Stann Creek River, offering plenty of opportunities to take pictures. Upon once again reaching terra firma, another hike will continue, this time toward a waterfall. The waterfall offers people a chance to be massaged by its waters and even enjoy a naturally water-carved slide into where the fall empties out.
The tour concludes with one final hike that returns participants to the vehicles parked back at the Maya village.
If any of this sounds at all appealing, please feel free to tour with Unchartered Jewels, a local touring company based in Dangriga.