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Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary

A unique jaguar preserve, untouched by tourism industry

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One of the world's top jaguar preserves, Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, is located in southern Belize, on the eastern side of the Maya Mountains. It occupies about 96,000 ac (38,849 ha) of lush tropical forest and is populated with amazing and endangered wildlife species. The best time to immerse yourself there is during the dry season from December through May.

About 200 jaguars (Panthera onca) roam free in the preserve, however, visitors have very few chances to spot them. The animals are found in the West Basin wilderness, away from most popular trails. Besides, these members of the cat family are known to be very discreet. You have better chances with about 300 bird species that live in the preserve. Macaw, toucan, and the great curassow are spotted frequently.

Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is also known for Mayan cultural artifacts dating back to 10,000 BCE. Visitors can see Chucil Baluum, the Maya ceremonial site, surrounded by the jungle. However, the main treasure of the preserve is its trail system. Visitors can climb the second highest mountain in Belize, 3,675 ft (1,120 m) Victoria Peak, for truly spectacular views. The trail is 17 mi (28 km) long. Easier hiking options include The River Overlook and the Rubber Tree Trail, which are perfect for wildlife spotting. However, for the best Instagram-worthy pictures, take the scenic 2.5 mi (4 km) Tiger Fern Waterfall Trail.

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Last updated: by Olga Valchyshen