Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary
The sign along the dirt road entrance on the way to Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is clear: Beware of Jaguars Crossing. Stretching 155 square miles, the only jaguar preserve in the world is also one of Belize's most gorgeous hiking destinations—rich in birds, flora, and several of Belize’s five wild cats: the ocelot, the margay, the jaguarondi, and the puma. You might spot fresh paw tracks while hiking, left behind by the elusive creatures who come out at night to feed. You’ll have more luck seeing howler monkeys, iguanas, and other critters.But exploring Cockscomb isn’t just about wild animals. It’s about enjoying a day immersed in jungle, hiking multiple trails, reaching waterfalls with emerald pools—like Tiger Fern Falls—for a dip, and taking in one of Belize’s most biodiverse environments. For even more of a challenge, there are summits to climb by permit only—Victoria’s Peak and Ben’s Bluff.
By Lebawit Lily Girma, AFAR Local Expert
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Take a Walk in the Woods in Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary
Belize’s broad swaths of protected forest promise to get your trekking boots dirty—and your adrenaline pumping. Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, 20 miles south of Dangriga, is the country’s best all-in-one hiking hotspot. The world’s first jaguar preserve counts 14 diverse hiking trails among its 150 mountainous square miles of jungle, spectacular waterfalls and broad rivers. It’s a playground for black howler monkeys, tapirs, anteaters, armadillos, peregrine falcons, red-eyed tree frogs, pumas, ocelots, jaguarundi and an estimated 40 to 50 jaguars.
Sponsored by Belize Tourism Board