Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary
As Wild as it Gets: Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary
It’s a jungle out there but you won’t mind going wild when you check out the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary (CBWS), called by many one of the best examples of an animal refuge on earth. This expansive sanctuary is home to birds, plants and creatures of the earth. Sound like Eden? There are similarities. Anyone interested in bio-diversity and eager to see Belize’s Herculean conservation efforts in person will be fascinated by all they see. Some say time spent here makes them feel more hopeful of the planet’s future.
Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary
Imagine Noah’s Ark after the flood, only thousands of creatures exit the ark rather than just two of each species. This 250,000 acre wonderland is also richly endowed with breathtaking waterfalls, mountains, nature trails and rivers, creating the perfect environment for species to thrive in harmony. As the only jaguar reserve on the planet, these cats keep company with hundreds of neo-tropical birds, other wildcats, deer, tapir, reptiles, insects, amphibians and all manner of other sanctuary inhabitants. You might not see all of them but you could spot their tracks on trails and river banks.
Why you must visit Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary
There’s nothing in the Caribbean that matches the bio-diversity found in this expansive, lush corner of Belize. The CBWS preserve is home to mile-upon-mile of indigenous flowers, trees and plants in an environment that is so hospitable the region even has its own “moisture regulation” system that’s a perfect mix of rain, temperature and slight winds. Since tropical rainforests like this one are disappearing at alarming rates, a visit here gives you opportunities to see nature as it was thousands of years ago-—perhaps before mankind roamed the earth.
Where is Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary located?
The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is located about 20 miles south of Dangriga and can be reached by taking the Southern Highway. If you’re in close proximity to the area’s Maya Center Village, you’re just about six miles away.
When is the best time to go Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary?
If you’re a birding fanatic, migrant birds are best observed in December when it’s high season in Belize. The Sanctuary’s animals are more likely to be sighted in June and July because the rains tend to bring them out. If you don’t have a seasonal preference or if finances aren’t governing your visit, all creatures of the CBWS are happy to welcome you year round, but don’t attempt the 17-mile Victoria Peak climb unless it’s dry season for safety reasons.
How to get to Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary?
The dirt road from the Southern Highway extends for six miles isn’t paved, so if you drive, you’ll need a car capable of tackling rugged terrain. Use public transport if you can. Buses from Belize City and Dangriga Town get you to Punta Gorda Town and the Maya Village Center, then hike into the park. If you’re coming from a distance, grab a Maya Island Air or Tropic Air flight for the 20-minute trip to Dangriga. Taxis and tour companies are also viable options.
Best way to experience Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary
First, the ideal way to experience this wildlife paradise is to book accommodations on premises rather than staying elsewhere so you’re in the midst of the action. Housing is rather primitive (think summer camp as a kid). The facility sleeps 24 people and has toilet facilities. Alternately, bring camping gear and a camping permit. During your visit, see Chucil Baluum, a Classic Period Mayan ceremonial site, Victoria Peak at an elevation of 3,675 feet and as many trails as time allows. Include visits to swimming areas, waterfalls, pine forests and the newest trail of all: The Outlier. The right guide can morph an already fascinating visit into an extraordinary one.