Wildlife Cockscomb & Basin Reserve (Belize)
Time: 2 hours
Distance: 4.0 km
Elevation Gain: 500 m
During the Christmas holidays, I travelled to Belize with Matt's family for a ten day vacation. I was excited for the opportunity to hike in a different country. Matt and I knew that there would be some hiking trails at the Wildlife Cockscomb & Basin Reserve (the world's only Jaguar Reservation Site) so we brought our boots and our poles with us.
When we got to the reserve, the guy who worked there explained some of the trails to us and then left us to our own devices. We decided to go with Tiger Fern Trail because it sounded like the most challenging option and it also had a double waterfall that we wanted to check out. Matt's sister, Pamela, and her fiancee, Sinisa also joined us for this hike. The rest of Matt's family took an easier/shorter trail.
The four of us headed back up the road for about 100 yards before we reached the sign indicating we had found our trailhead.
It goes without saying in Belize that the weather was very warm that day. We were lucky enough to have a cloudy overcast as I think I would have melted if the sun had been out. I was having a hard enough time with acclimatizing in the humidity!
As we made our way through the jungle, the trail itself started off as fairly flat. We came across a river that had man-made stones leading across it for a bridge.
Once you get past that point, the trail slowly begins to ascend. Every ten minutes along the way there were resting benches, which we didn't really rest at but did use that opportunity to take pictures or pause for a drink. I had to make sure I drank a lot of water as I was losing a lot from sweating so much. I don't think I've ever sweat so much in my entire life! Along one of the switchbacks, Matt and I spotted an bug hill of some sort. I wonder what kind of bug lived in there?
Over time, the trail turned into small uneven switchbacks before eventually climbing to the top of a ridge. As soon as you reach the top, the trail splits off. If you keep going straight, it takes you to a campground. However, our destination was the waterfalls so we veered off to the right. At the top of the ridge, you can overlook the entire Wildlife Reserve. It was a bit of a welcome break as the wind was a bit higher and it allowed me to cool down a bit. We took a few pictures and then continued on our way.
At this point, the trail begins to go down into the valley. Just as the trail began to dip, we spotted a few berries that looked like the blueberries not-quite-right cousin!
We thought it would be best to not risk eating them. The further down we went, the more slippery the rocks became and it started to become difficult to move without taking a slow and cautious step. Luckily, there was a flimsy wooden banister near the bottom we could hang on to for balance. Soon, we could hear the sound of the first waterfall.
There was a family already swimming in the pool so we decided to hike up a small hill beside the waterfall to see the second one.
I'm glad we did. The second waterfall was much larger and so was it's pool.
We had a quick lunch that Kathy (Matt's mom) had made for us before taking a few pictures. I was the first to get in the pool (after being ensured the log at the bottom was not indeed a crocodile).
Matt joined me soon after and we were able to get some pictures right beside the waterfall. The only other thing in the pool besides us was the minnows! It was really beautiful. After Sinisa and Pam took a dip and had some pictures taken, we all explored the area, taking in the beauty of the waterfall and the vegetation that surrounded it.
We then had to figure out how to get changed back into our hiking clothes, as another family had joined us! We ended up having to walk down the trail a bit and then hide behind our towels. Once we were all changed and ready to go, we started back up the very steep climb to the ridge. Unfortunately it was the middle of the day by the time we had started the hike, so we didn't really get the chance to see many animals. But it was still incredibly neat to be able to hike in a jungle (even if I did almost melt along the way)!