It’s not all blue skies and beach bars in the Caribbean. With 103 protected areas in the country, Belize—which is Central American too—also evokes images of waterfalls, tropical jungle, and bountiful birdlife. Not to mention, more than 70 per cent of the country covered in forest, so nature is never far away. Choosing to explore a protected area leaves a lasting impact on the environment and nearby close-knit communities, while offering an incredibly authentic and exciting travel experience. For intrepid hikers, we’re spotlighting this seasonal trail while the Victoria Peak Natural Monument remains closed: the Outlier Trail inside Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. At 14km roundtrip reaching an elevation of 585m, the verdant vistas atop is worth the 7-hour hike—rivaling that of Victoria Peak.
Co-managed by the Belize Audubon Society, the 128,000 acres of Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary offers pristine beauty and Robinson Crusoe-like adventure in Southern Belize. After all, Outlier Trail is no exception, and remains open for the remainder of Belize’s dry season.
Constructed in 1995 by Raleigh International, the Outlier Trail sets out from the visitor centre at Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary along the same path as the Victoria Peak trail for the first four kilometres, before taking a right turn into the dense forest. The path soon begins to rise steeply and is a strenuous climb to the northern rim of the Cockscomb Basin, but is well worth the effort once you reach the peak and see the panoramic views of the entire Basin. Wake with the sun and head out on an early hike to any one of the three waterfalls, where oversized ferns and vines line the 118 combined kilometers of jungle trails. However, keep your eyes peeled for the pig-like peccaries, hundreds of bird species, and all five species of Belize’s wildcats found inside. Not to mention, you’re in the world’s first jaguar preserve. You might get lucky!
Supporting Eco-Tourism in Belize
The Belize Audubon Society is a proud member of the Association of Protected Area Management Organizations (APAMO), an umbrella organization of 28 protected areas (PAs). Collectively, APAMO helps to conserve 1.29 million acres of Belize’s biodiversity, and through this, improves the lives of thousands of people. If you are interested in booking a trip to hike the Outlier Trail, contact BAS at (501)223-5004 or [email protected] for more information and recommended tour operators.
The Outlier Trail at Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is now open for the 2021 hiking season.