A quiet, out of the way preserve dedicated to the survival of jaguars ensuring a corridor exists through Central America. Named for the views. A hike to the highest point of the park allows the opportunity to see Victoria Peak, from this view point the peak seems as if it is the shape of a cockerel’s head, hence cocks-comb. The park is run by the Belize Audobon Sociecty.
An arduous journey from Caye Caulker, an 8:30 ferry to Belize City followed by buses to Dangriga and finally the Maya Centre and you find yourself on a dirt road waiting to start your journey into the jungle. After paying an entrance fee and calling for a taxi (perhaps you will be lucky and hail down a tour bus but this seems unlikely) you head down the six-mile dirt road. A tractor passes lifting the fresh orange dirt, a wonderfully sweet aroma fills the air. It happens to be the end of November, so, during the baking sun, Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas’ plays on the car radio. After a pleasant drive you arrive at a modest campsite. A basic reception followed by a building called Rustic Cabins containing a few twin bed rooms near the staff quarters and the restrooms/showers. Further down a path you’ll find the dorm and the fairly large but fridgeless kitchen. This makes Cockscomb’s dainty village. Note during the day everything runs on solar and between around 7pm-9pm you’ll have access to electricity, there is also an option to pay for some wifi. There is an option to pay by card when the sun is high but expect cold dark showers, not too dissimilar from many parts of Central America.
The preserve offers opportunities for tubing and plunges into waterfalls, you may see daily tours heading to the park for that reason. There are numerous marked trails you must stick to, they seem wider than most parks I’ve visited. An hour after arrival we headed for a night walk but it is quite difficult to call it that. Despite being half present the moon illuminates the entire path. You can (and we did) walk along these paths without torch or headlamp, a pale white glow lightens the jungle. The sky is alight with stars and the floor and trees alive with insects. Point your light to the ground and you’ll see glistening as if from dew, yet it is spider eyes covering the ground.
The park is known for five species of cat; the jaguar, ocelot, puma, margay and jaguarundi. Like all species of cat, they are rare to see yet one was recorded on a taxi drive to the park the day before we arrived. Birds are abundant in the park, near the accommodation hummingbirds buzz past, lineated woodpeckers pound at the trees and wild turkeys crash clumsily through the canopy. Other birds include the harpy eagle; its piercing screech from above can be heard throughout the jungle and the keel-billed toucan. Howler monkeys thrash in the trees, the loud droning awakening the forest.
Cockcomb Basin is definitely a wild paradise not a piece of plastic in sight. The most fantastic aspect is that only a minute portion is available to guests, most of the reserve is protected allowing wildlife to thrive.