The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is a nature reserve situated in the Stann Creek District of south-central Belize Maya Center, Mile 12 Southern Highway. Its primary objective is to safeguard the forests, fauna, and watersheds of an area of about 400 square kilometers on the eastern slopes of the Maya Mountains. The park is a perfect blend of natural beauty, wildlife, and Maya culture. Chucil Baluum, a minor Maya ceremonial site, is a typical example of the Classic Period and is well hidden within the park. The Cockscomb Mountain Range towers over the basin to the north, with Victoria Peak, the highest mountain in Belize, at 3,675 feet presiding over the range. The peak offers opportunities for unparalleled exploration and adventure in its mostly unexplored reaches.
Historically, the area has been in demand for its fine and abundant stands of mahogany and cedar, which provided a staple of Belize’s economy for many years. The rainy season, particularly at the beginning (June/July), is the most active time for wildlife. The best time for migrant birds is around December, while on cloudy cooler days, animals, in general, are more lively.
The most remarkable feature of Cockscomb is its trail network, which is the most extensive of any reserve in the country. The River Overlook and Warrie Trails are usually the best for wildlife sightings. The Rubber Tree Trail also offers a small chance of seeing the secretive Agami Heron on the banks of the South Stann Creek. Jaguars use the trails as a convenient way through the forest, so keep an eye out for their footprints. The lower forest and the re-growth around the sanctuary headquarters (the old logging camp) are good for bird watching.
For those seeking a challenge, there is an over-abundance of very similar flycatchers in the area. More obvious are Clay-colored Robins, Social Flycatchers, Collared-seed Eaters, Crimson Collared and Masked Tanagers, and a pair of Bat Falcons. The Montezuma’s Oropendola is the most ridiculous-sounding bird overhead, making its presence known with its acrobatic-looking spasms and calls, while the White-collared Manakin gives a clicking sound like two stones being banged together and judders along its perch in fits of hyper-activity deeper in the forest.