Solitude in Hiking: Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary

by Larry Waight
outlier trail cockscomb belize audubon

Are you planning a visit to beautiful Belize? Consider hiking the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. This lovely nature reserve was established for the protection of jaguars and other species in 1986. It is located on the eastern slopes of the Maya Mountains and is approximately 400 square miles in area.

Tiger Fern Summit Cockscomb Hiking

Photo via Instagram @helenaontherocks

Historians believe that the ancient Maya may have lived in this area hundreds of years ago. The first Europeans to explore it did not arrive until the late 19th century. They named the Cockscomb Mountain after the resemblance the ridge has to a rooster’s comb. Within, the sanctuary is the home of incredibly diverse of wildlife – not just jaguars but also pumas, margays and ocelots as well as coatis, monkeys, kinkajous, tapirs, peccaries and deer. There are also over 350 bird species, and a wide variety of native plants to see.

Exploring Hiking Trails

cockscomb basin

Photo courtesy Belize Audubon Society

A hike here is good not just for your body, but also for your mind. Feel your cares melt away as your body gets the exercise it needs surrounded by the beauty of the rain forest. There are more than 20 miles of hiking trails. They range in difficulty from easy walks by the river to a difficult climb to the top of Victoria Peak, the second largest mountain in the country. If you decide you want to try this challenging route, be aware that it is only permitted with a licensed guide. You don’t need guides for the other trails, though some people choose to hire them to learn more about the history of the area and its unique landmarks and wildlife. If you are an animal-lover, you’ll want to check out the Wari Loop trail, while the Tiger Fern Trail will allow you to enjoy impressive double waterfalls.

Refreshing Rewards

Whatever hike you choose, you’ll be able to cool off with a swim underneath a waterfall afterwards. While you relax, you’ll hear the calls of howler monkeys and a variety of birds. Don’t worry about close encounters with jaguars. While you might be lucky enough to see paw prints, the elusive big cats are nocturnal and keep to themselves. 

To best enjoy your visit to the park, remember to wear good quality shoes with plenty of traction that you don’t mind getting wet. You will probably want to bring a swimsuit and towel. You may also want to bring a rain poncho, just in case. Definitely bring bug spray. And remember to take nothing out of the park except pictures.

As you can see, if you are a traveler that is looking to connect with nature and be at one with the local ecosystem, then hiking the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is a must while in Belize. 

This article was published on July 17th, 2020. Featured Photo via Belize Audubon Society

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