Cockscomb Basin National Wildlife Sanctuary, Belize

Having had breakfast at the Thong Restaurant Bar and Grill, my hopes shattered of seeing thong clad Belize women as servers. (They meant thong as in sandals – darn it!)

I was driving down the road towards The Placencia again. Not really having an agenda, just looking over the country side on a Sunday afternoon.

On the right side of the road, I noticed a sign about a jaguar reserve – jaguars in Belize, who’d a thought, I said to myself.

Road didn’t look to bad – they never do until you really get a bit further in.

Houses on the right side of the road at the beginning, jungle on the left. Looked well-traveled, better than the road I mistakenly took to my buddy’s house when I arrived a week ago.

What the heck, I thought – I can always turn back. Off down the road I went.

Further down, it was orange groves on the right, jungle on the left. Amazing the effort the orange growers go to get the land for the trees. They have to dig the jungle out, grade the land, plant the trees. Always fighting with the jungle, which wants the land back.

About 2 KM in, it is jungle on both sides. Rocks all over the road, changing from a relatively smooth gravel road. Getting a little more testy for the Tercel.

I can tell someone is fighting with the jungle to control who owns what. It’s been graded, but lots of rain does not make the road an easy drive. No power lines, no telephone lines. I am getting away from the civilized parts and Belize, into the “dark side!”

Road in

Road heading into Cockscomb


Careful - 60 jaguars in the park!

The above shot was the road going in.

Warning! – be ready if the jaguars are on the move! They have about 60 within the park.

Not to bad so far. I see a sign, to get to the wild life reserve, head to the left.

Now think about this: What part of a road is going to get washed out by water?

The hilly parts – loose dirt will travel down the hill, leaving rocks, if there are any , or the granite that was at one time below the dirt.

First, the road has poor drainage by the many creeks and streams that form when the rainy season arrives – LIKE THIS TIME OF THE YEAR!!

So, any guesses of what I start running into?

First is a hill, solid granite now. Not to bad – nothing really sticking out that I have to worry. Just a bit of rock and rolling of the car. Down the hill I see the first washout.

These rocks they have used to cover this big ol’ pipe they have installed, are BIG!

If I avoid the big rock on the left, roll over a couple on the right, do not let them get underneath my car – I am fine. Sure enough, plan works. Get through, no problem – then round the next corner – another hill! This goes on, until I finally reach the entrance gates of the reserve.

Does not look to bad, visitor center is still further up the road – but the road looks a little better – NOT!
Head further in I do. Rocking and rolling in the car, missing the rocks, going a little off-road to avoid the bigger center of the road formed from the many cars that have formed a rut. All is good, nothing scraping the bottom of my car.

I didn’t see any jaguars, but I did see a Red Brocket Deer, which was unusual for the time of day. I could not get a picture, as the deer was far from me, and quick to get off the road once he spotted me. Back into the jungle he went.

Before reaching the visitors center, I see a sign that says air plane wreck path – I think, “What the hell?”

Park the car in some grass, it says about 1/2 KM. so what the heck – lets see a plane crash wreck in the middle of a fricken jungle!!

Looking at it, I thought it was a plant, to attract tourist.

Nope, as I later found out – it was a wreck that happened when a scientist was trying to track the signals from the collars that he had placed on a few jaguars. Storm came up suddenly, and down he went. Sorry, do not know if he survived or what. But, here is the proof!



Old plane that crashed in the jungle



Back into the car, shaking my head, and still trying to get to this darn visitor’s center.

Finally arrive, couple small buildings. All electricity supplied by solar panels. Cabins available, camping available, tubing, hiking on paths. One even has the chance to hike one of the highest points in Belize – Victoria Peak. In the middle of a jungle. Weird!

Had some fun with the two guys on duty. One guys, Brijilio was the salesman in charge of the tickets, the other guy, Bonifacio was on a hammock, swinging away.

$1.00 for a coke (Figures in US Dollars) , $5.00 to get into the park, $2.50 for a small map, $1.25 for a liter of water – because it is bigger then a coke! :) What a hoot.

Bonifacio decided to get off the hammock to get his picture taken.

Bonifacio on the left, Brijilio on the right

Decide on a waterfall trek. Supposedly, mosquitoes are light. Maybe for a Belizean, not for an American – all things are relative.

He did tell me the truth about the hike, relatively easy.

But why I decide to do these things at the hottest time of the day is beyond me! The hike I am on is the Waterfall Trail. Here area few of the steps that I had to deal with:

Part of the jungle trail

First small river that I had to cross going to the main goal – a waterfall at the end of the trail. But , first easy walk over a bridge of this river.

Yes, it is this dark on the trail

Much better light!

dark to ligh

Bugs, mosquitoes, slippery slopes, and jungle. Deep , dark jungle.

The time of day when nothing stirs – it is too hot.

Bottle of water in hand, as I do not have my small back pack that I bought for occasions like this. No insect repellant – didn’t know I would be doing this today.

Why do I not just put it into the car to be on the safe side?

Lugging tripod, again, backpack not with me. Not a bad walk though, just sharing my inner secrets is all. I hear the water on my left side, but do not see it.The jungle is just to dense.

Turn a corner, all rock for a path now. Slip, fall – but no big deal. And down the small gorge I go. And there it is!

waterfall 2

So refreshing, that small pond below the water fall. Shirt’s soaked with sweat, bug bites up and down my legs.

Take of my shoes and wade in, which would have been nicer if I would have brought my thongs – oops – sandals – but no back pack remember?? It is a bugger getting old!


Water on the arms and legs was so refreshing!

Of course the stream has formed a small gorge, always with the jungle, even then trying to make sure the stream knows that the jungle will control the turf.

Another picture of the stream heading into the small gorge:

In all, a pretty nice trek for a spur of the moment type deal. From now on:

1) Always leave with the bug spray.

2) Always bring the backpack.

3) Always bring water.

4) I specifically bought a hat with vents, as the head gives off a lot of the heat the body generates – always bring that instead of a baseball cap!

What this trek did teach me was:

1) Do not do this type of stuff starting at 1PM in the day – it is just to hot and humid!!

2) The jungle is always trying to take its turf back.

3) It is immense competition for the light – be it trees, vines, ferns – everything is trying to get growing, and they all need sunlight.

4) Everything is very quiet when it is in the heat of the afternoon.

5) Always, when walking or hiking, make sure of your footing before you transfer your weight!

6) Any road off the beaten path is going to be rough – no matter what!

If you want to read more about the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, their website is here:

Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary – run by the Belize Audubon Society

Cheers for now!

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About John Wilson

Traveler, writer and photographer. No home now, just traveling the world in search of the lost chord.
This entry was posted in Belize - the country, people, and pictures, Cockscomb Basin National Wildlife Sanctuary and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Cockscomb Basin National Wildlife Sanctuary, Belize

  1. Pingback: Am I going to need bug spray camping at Tikal Guatemala? | Ultimate Fishing and Hunting Blog

  2. admin says:

    You are coming down during the dry season in Guatemala.
    If you want to be on the safe side, I would bring some, or buy some in Flores, which would be the closest town to Tikal.
    I would always, repeat, always bring bug spray when hiking/camping in a jungle area.
    Lots of things can bite besides mosquito’s.
    Feel free to ask any other questions you may have.
    Cheers for now

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