|The Regions - Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary|
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|COCKSCOMB BASIN WILDLIFE SANCTUARY|
|Also commonly called the Cockscomb Jaguar Preserve or simply the Jaguar Preserve, this is one of the best undisturbed natural centers in the country, and easily one of the most beautiful. A large tract of approximately 155 square miles of forest was declared a forest reserve in 1984, and in 1986 the government of Belize set the region aside as a preserve for the largest cat in the Americas, the jaguar. The area is alive with wildlife, including the margay, ocelot, puma, jaguarundi, tapir, deer, paca, iguana, kinkajou, and armadillo (to name just a few), hundreds of bird species, and some unusual reptiles, including the red-eyed tree frog. And though you probably won't see the large cats roaming during the day (they hunt at night), it's exciting to see their prints and other signs-and to know that even if you don't see one, you'll probably be seen by one.|
Hiking the Trails
From the visitors center, many trails go off in different directions into the park. The trails are well cared for. Check out the front of the visitors center building for a detailed map. If you wish to take a guide for trekking farther afield, ask about availability at the center, or up the road in Maya Center, where excellent guides are found who grew up in these forests. Bring your swimsuit; you'll find cool natural pools for a refreshing plunge, especially along Stann Creek. If you climb Ben's Bluff, you're not just looking out over a park where jaguars live-you're at the entrance of a forest that goes all the way into the Guatemalan PetÚn, part of the largest contiguous block of protected forest in Central America. It's an easy one-day hike, and the park managers are planning to build a lookout tower.
Visitors Center and Accommodations
Just past the entrance gate into the sanctuary is a small gift shop and office where you'll be asked to sign in. There is also a small museum, picnic area, and outhouse. You'll also find an "office" of the World Wildlife Fund, an important sponsor of the park along with the Belize Audubon Society and the government. The overnight accommodations are in a couple of clapboard buildings with about a dozen bunks and metal roofs (US$8 for a bunk, private cabins available for US$18, $48 with more beds and a kitchen, and the "white house," up the road, for US$54). A walled-off washing area has buckets, and a separate cooking area has a gas stove and a few pots and such. Or, bring your own tent to stay at the excellent campground (US$3). Be prepared if you plan to stay a few days; the only food for sale in the visitors center includes chips, cookies, candy bars, and soft drinks. There are a couple of bigger stores in Maya Center, so feel free to stock up there before catching your cab into the park. You may also be able to arrange for meals to be cooked in Maya Center and brought in.
Return to Belize - The Regions
|This is a small excerpt from Moon Handbooks Belize. CentralAmerica.Com highly recommends that you enhance your vacation by taking a copy of Moon's comprehensive Handbook with you. For more information visit the Moon Handbooks page on this site.|
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