COCKSCOMB BASIN WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
Deep in the heart of the Maya Mountains of southern Belize is an unspoiled wilderness. Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary (CBWS) is recognized internationally as the world’s first jaguar preserve. It is also known for its spectacular waterfalls, mountain views, nature trails, and rich diversity of neotropical birds. The tracks of wildcats, tapir, deer, and other wildlife are often seen on hiking trails or along the bank of South Stann Creek. Plan an extended visit so that you can appreciate all that Cockscomb has to offer. People who understand the value of Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary know that it is much more than a natural area set aside for jaguars. The area was also designated to protect the upper watersheds of important river systems that deliver ecosystem services to people. Cockscomb has two distinctive basins, which are separated by a ridge of land. The East Basin drains into South Stann Creek and the West Basin drains into Swasey River, a tributary of Monkey River. In the Maya Mountain extension of the Sanctuary is Trio Branch, this ultimately drains into Monkey River Watershed.
Cockscomb Basin is a 2 hour drive along the stunning Hummingbird Highway and the Southern Highway, which pass through jungle hills, citrus orchards, and rangeland. We then pass through the traditional Mayan village of Maya Center where you can see a Women’s Craft Cooperative, herbal gardens, a traditional corn mill, women washing clothes by hand on rocks in the creek, and get a Cacao Tour where you will get the chance to make your own chocolate bar.
From there, we head into the heart of the reserve on a rough dirt road. We stop at the ranger post and have an opportunity to see a small museum with the history of the reserve, which was established by the renowned researcher, Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, (aka “The Indiana Jones of Wildlife Protection”) who documented his time in the reserve in the early 1980s and his jaguar research in the autobiographical book, Jaguar. An extensive trail system branches out from the ranger station and we explore the reserve on foot with refreshing river and waterfall swims waiting for us.
Here, we set up camp at the national park campground where and we take a leisurely hike through the jungle. End the day with the jungle cookout and share stories with other guests and the rangers. Later that day we set out on a Night Safari with a chance of seeing the elusive jaguar and other nocturnal creatures.
In the morning, after a hearty breakfast, we set out on the South Stann Creek to embark on our river tubing excursion. Float in the fresh cool waters of the South Stann Creek and revel in the beauty of the rainforest environment. This is an amazing and unforgettable adventure in one of the last few wilderness areas in the world where jaguars roam free.
Join us on a remarkable excursion to the Jaguar Preserve.
DURATION: 2 Days 1 night
WHAT TO BRING/WEAR:
- hiking shoes
- day pack
- water bottle
- water shoes
- long sleeve shirt and long lightweight pants
- shorts and t-shirt
- sunglasses and sunscreen
- insect repellent
- change of clothes
- snacks and extra water
PRICE: US $250/per person
- entrance and camping fees
- Hennessy Expedition hammocks for camping
- transportation to site and back from our place
- 4 meals
- river tubing equipment