Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary

Starting at the Caribbean coast and sweeping upland to the base of the Maya Mountains, the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is one of Belize’s most spectacular parks. In a vast land with no roads, businesses, hunters, or cars, the Cockscomb Basin is perhaps most famous for being the only nature reserve in the region where Central American jaguars are still free to roam.

Ideal for short day hikes or multi-day adventures, the Cockscomb Basin offers travelers a chance to see tropical birds, spectacular waterfalls, mountain vistas, old growth forests, and a rich abundance of wildlife like tapirs (Belize’s national animal), deer, and monkeys. Other denizens of the reserve include hundreds of species of colorful butterflies, amphibians, and reptiles.

Measuring more than 150 square miles in size, the area was once inhabited by the Ancient Maya empire more than 10,000 years ago. Today, the reserve is one of Belize’s most important habitants, a thriving biosphere where exotic plant species and endangered animals can thrive. The reserve is named for the Cockscomb Mountain Ridge, which resembles the shape of the comb of a rooster (cock).

The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary Tour

Starting in Dangriga, Hopkins or Placencia, it takes about two hours to drive to the reserve following the beautiful Hummingbird Highway. At the entrance to the sanctuary lies a traditional Maya village where locals proudly display their herbal gardens, corn mill, and homemade items made by the Women’s Craft Cooperative.

After arriving at the park, participants will be given a brief orientation and get a chance to see the original cages that Alan Robinowitz, the founder of the reserve, built to house animals.

From there, participants will enjoy a hike along a well-marked trail. Your guide will point out interesting animals and plants along the way, including an abundance of exotic birds. At the end of the hike, it will be time for a delicious home-cooked lunch.

After lunch, it’s time to board inner tubes and flow down the lovely South Stann Creek River. The banks of the river are perfect for taking pictures to document the breath-taking beauty of the jungle. Once back on land, it’ll be time for a quick hike to an amazing waterfall. Participants can enjoy a refreshing swim underneath the waterfall, letting the movement of the water give you a natural massage. There’s even a natural waterslide to provide plenty of splashing fun.

The tour wraps up with a hike back to the starting point to board vehicles and head back to your resort. When you get back, you’ll have plenty of stories to tell and pictures to share with the other guests!

This tour offers an unparalleled opportunity to see the wild beauty of Belize at its very finest.

**Contact us for more information on the Cockscomb Basin Tour.

“We took this tour, and it was really amazing. Our daughter, Karyn, was thrilled by all the birds, and our son, Topher, spent the entire day without his phone and didn’t complain even once. Definitely one of the most beautiful places on earth, in my humble opinion. Didn’t see any jaguars, but that’s quite all right!”

-Cooper Family, Pittsburgh, PA

The History of Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary

In the early 1980’s, concern for the jaguars of Belize was raised from two different places. James Hyde, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Natural Resources had been approached by a concerned citrus farmer who had encountered jaguars in his orchard. At the same time, Archie Carr III, Assistant Director of the International Division of the New York Zoological Society, ran across references to jaguars in Belize in hunting magazines. He was in contact with Dora Weyer and asked if BAS would like a study of jaguars in Belize. Alan Rabinowitz, a graduate student at the time, was commissioned to determine the jaguar population.

Through Dr. Alan Rabinowitz’s ecological study conducted between 1982 and 1984, it was observed that the Cockscomb Basin contained the highest density of jaguars ever recorded. Therefore, in 1984, the area was initially declared a forest reserve with a “No Hunting” ordinance to protect the large jaguar population and other wildlife that make this place their home. However, after much concern that the Cockscomb Basin Forest Reserve was not protecting the jaguars’ habitat, a small portion of the Reserve was declared a wildlife sanctuary on February 26, 1986.

Over the years the Sanctuary has expanded from 3,600 acres to 128,000 acres. The Maya Mountain extension in the south connects Cockscomb with Bladen Nature Reserve. This makes a continuous corridor of protected areas totaling 250,000 acres.

Daily trips to cockscomb from out of Placencia, Hopkins & Dangriga give us a call or email at to book now!


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