Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary – Home of the Jaguars

Do you know that the first jaguar reserve in the world is in Belize? And the name of this marvelous reserve is called Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary.

Established in 1990, this distinct reserve is a product of the studies made by Alan Rabinowitz. The sanctuary is set in a lush jungle which covers 128,000 acres, with the Cockscomb Mountains as its backdrop. At Cockcomb, you will find five types of cats existing in Belize, which includes the Jaguar, Puma, Margay, Ocelot, and Jaguarundi. The Jaguar is the national animal in Belize and there are 80 of them living in the sanctuary. If you came to Cockscomb in hopes of seeing these large cats in their natural habitat, go for a hiking tour that explores the Jaguar trails and lairs. The best time to spot them is during dusk or dawn.

Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is not just a natural setting for jaguars. It also protects important upper watersheds and river systems. In fact, Cockscomb has two major basins, which are South Stann Creek and the West Basin, which goes to the Swasey River. The sanctuary’s cluster of ecosystems is home to tropical moist forests and hundreds of various plant species. It also features nature trails, mountains, waterfalls and a diverse collection of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and neotropical birds, deer and tapir. The animals can usually be seen when you go on hiking trails. The bank of the South Stann Creek is also a favorite hangout area for creatures like wildcats, deer and tapir.


One of the main things to do here is hiking wonderful nature trails, which vary in degrees of difficulty. If you are not a seasoned hiker, you can always start with trails along the river that last about an hour. The trail systems allow you to take in spectacular views of the lush terrain, the waterways and the waterfalls surrounding the area. Serious hikers can put themselves to the test by tacking the 4-day track that ends at the Victoria Peak. However, you can only hike this adventurous trail during the dry season. In addition, you will need to get a permit and a tour guide from the local communities.

The Tiger Fern and the Ben’s Bluff trails are some of the most popular tracks in the sanctuary. Both of these trails can lead you to gorgeous waterfalls. Other activities you can engage in while in Cockscomb are swimming, tube floating and kayaking at the South Stann Creek. The sanctuary is also equipped with a Visitor Center, which offers wildlife displays and an educational conference room.

Spend a couple of days here to fully enjoy what Cockscomb has to offer. For accommodation, you may choose to stay in camping grounds and cabins situated in key areas of the sanctuary. The sanctuary is situated off the Southern Highway, about 20 miles south of Dangriga. You can find the entrance at the Maya Center Village. Before entering, you will need to pay an entrance fee to the Maya Center Women’s Group. From this entrance, you will need to drive or hike 6 miles along a dirt road to reach the actual park. The walk takes about 2 hours. If you don’t feel like walking that long, you can always hire a taxi from the village. The excitement of seeing the Jaguar’s makes the effort more than worthwhile.

About Author:

Arie Boris has extensive travel industry experience, including business and sales development for commercial aviation, the International emergency assistance & travel insurance industry and a national association of travel agents. He was a contributing editor to several print and Internet travel publications, including Fieldings’ Worldwide Cruise Guide and was part of the start up team for CruiseCritic. He has written over 400 cruise ship reviews. Arie also produces and hosts Cruise Gourmet Voyages, a variety of fundraising & theme group cruises for various charitable and arts organizations. He has produced theme cruises for a variety of special interest groups including opera, comedy, spiritual retreats and fan clubs for TV shows like Dark Shadows and Dancing with the Stars!