Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary
- Type: Sightseeing
- Time to Spend: 2 hours to Half Day
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In Belize, jaguars rule the land. And the best place to catch a glimpse of these striking wildcats is Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. This sprawling reserve was founded in the 1980s to protect Belize's endangered species. Today, Cockscomb also houses ocelots, pumas, peccaries, tapirs, king vultures, armadillos, otters, along with hundreds of native birds. The sanctuary contains 12 nature trails that span across 20 miles. You'll likely only have time (and strength) to mosey up a few marked trails, so choose wisely.
Recent visitors praise the reserve's beautiful scenery, but some note the trails are challenging. Still, most say the hikes are worth it simply for the picturesque vistas of the southern tip of the country. One TripAdvisor user comments, "Early morning arrival at the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Preserve is a must […] cooler temperatures early in the day make hiking and climbing more enjoyable." Another recommendation: Lather yourself with insect repellent. The moist environment serves as a haven for annoying mosquitoes and tiny flies.
The reserve welcomes visitors every day between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., and entry costs $5 USD. You can reach the sanctuary by car from Belize City, a drive that takes about two and a half hours. If you're planning to drive, head on Western Highway, take a left at Hummingbird Highway, turn right on Southern Highway, and then make the turn at Maya Center.