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Strange Encounter after a Hot Hike

Back to the Zoo and visiting Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Preserve

sunny 93 °F
View 1998 Belize, Tikal, Atlanta, and Cozumel & Bermuda on greatgrandmaR's travel map.

Saturday, 7 March 1998

Stann Creek District includes the whole peninsula with Placencia at the end of it, all the way up to Dangriga.

We waked at 6:45. Got up and ate and orange and got ourselves together and left.
Sun Glare

Sun Glare


We took the Manatee Highway shortcut from Placencia all the way back to the zoo. This road is completely graveled and unpaved. It is mainly used by heavy trucks transporting produce or freight. Bob says that at 45 mph the washboard smooths.
Manatee Highway behind a trailer

Manatee Highway behind a trailer

Manatee Highway

Manatee Highway


We picked up my checkbook completely intact with all the cash. I made a $20BZ donation to the zoo.

We drove back - the drive on the Manatee HIghway was uneventful. Saw great blue heron, some hawks and vultures and a road runner. Saw the second green snake this morning water lilies and yellow flowered trees. Also some banana and orange and grapefruit trees.
Water tank

Water tank


We stopped for lunch in Dangriga. Kids were getting out of school at lunch. Saw "Burger King" but there was no place to park. Dangregia is a strange town. We had hamburgers at the Silver Star Cafe which is really a Chinese restaurant. Grocery across the street was Chinese also - shut at noon.
From the restaurant

From the restaurant


Toilet was locked with a tiny padlock. Didn't flush well.
Lock on the bathroom

Lock on the bathroom

A delivery man made a delivery while we were there. The delivery truck was blocking the main road so we went back of the police station.
Construction

Construction

Leaving Dangriga

Leaving Dangriga


When I was at the zoo before, I had bought the teacher's guide to the Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Preserve
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which is about an hour's drive north of Placencia. I thought we might drive up from Placencia, but since we had to go to the zoo to get my checkbooks, we did it on the way back to Placencia instead. It is is managed by the Belize Audubon Society

The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is below the Maya Mountain's Cockscomb Range. The area was declared a forest reserve and a "NO HUNTING" area in 1984 to protect the large jaguar population and other resident wildlife. The sanctuary was expanded in 1990 to include the entire forest reserve, resulting in a totally protected area of over 100,000 acres. The Cockscomb Basin, ringed on three sides by high ridges and mountains, rises from about 300 feet above sea level to approximately 3675 at the summit of Victoria Peak, the country's highest point.

The sanctuary headquarters is reached by a six-mile entrance road from the village of Maya Center. We drove down to reserve, paid and signed in. The single track road was very rough.
Entrance road

Entrance road


We had to ford the water on the road into the park. Bob said we should have had a big sponge to wash the (dusty) car off.
Stream to be forded - drought level

Stream to be forded - drought level


This was in February (the dry season), in the middle of a drought. So even in the dry season, you need to be aware of road conditions.

The website says:

Travelers should be aware of current weather conditions while traveling during the rainy season (particularly the months of June to October). Highway south of Belmopan are subject to flood damage. For your safety we recommend carrying the following provisions when visiting the Cockscomb reserve : insect repellant, food, and a water container for hot days on the trails. "
For overnight camping contact BAS office, Belize City.
Please sign the park register at the Craft Shop in the Maya Center before proceeding into the park.
Permits are required for people passing through the park to climb Victoria Peak.
Remember that all wildlife is protected in this park.
Please do not disturb, harm, or attempt to capture any animals or birds.
Please do not disturb, collect or remove any plants or trees.
No person shall remove any antiquities or other objects of cultural or natural importance.
Do not litter. Please leave trash in litter bins.
Cooking is allowed only at designated areas.
No fires should be lit along the trail.
Please do not bring pets into the park as they interfere with the wildlife.
Firearms are not to be taken into the park.
Please stay on trails.
Please do not destroy or vandalize the facilities provided. "

I can CERTAINLY attest to the fact that you need to carry water and insect repellant when you visit the Refuge. There is no place to get anything to eat either. So if you plan to be there during a meal time, you must bring your own

There is a visitor center with a small interpretive museum, and several beautiful jungle trails which criss-cross the sanctuary. They are labeled as to difficulty and length. A self guiding tour booklet is available at the visitors' center which highlights jungle flora along a scenic trail.
Map from website

Map from website


There is a picnic area and for campers there is a rainwater cistern for drinking water
Cistern

Cistern


and for bathing, fresh water is drawn from streams. A campground for large groups as well as cabin spaces are available at modest fees.
Foriegn Ticket

Foriegn Ticket


There is a fee of BZ$2.50 for Belize citizens and BZ$10.00 (US$5.00) for non-Belize citizens. After we paid our admission fee, we went through the exhibits
Old Jaguar cages.  In the old days when jaguars were trapped or caged, they used such as these. Even then, jaguars are capable of escaping

Old Jaguar cages. In the old days when jaguars were trapped or caged, they used such as these. Even then, jaguars are capable of escaping

After that we went to the bathroom
Bathrooms

Bathrooms


Plant

Plant


Banana trees

Banana trees


We set off on the shortest trail going to the river (the River Trail). The ranger thought there was a picnic table and a place to swim at the end of this trail.
Trail sign

Trail sign


It was a scorchingly hot and humid day - the Ranger said 93 deg F. We tried to stay mostly in the shade.
Bob beside the trail

Bob beside the trail


We couldn't help notice the carpet of yellow petals from the flowering trees on the path. I asked the name of these flowers and was told what it was, but I didn't write it down and the name was one that was completely unfamiliar to me, so it just didn't stick in my head.
Yellow flowers on a tree

Yellow flowers on a tree


I had hoped we could swim in the river, but not only was there no place to change, but the banks were steep and I wasn't sure I could get in without getting hurt let alone think about getting out.
River at the end of the trail

River at the end of the trail

River

River


So I didn't swim - although I would have liked to - it was EXTREMELY hot.
Wilting vegetation

Wilting vegetation


Since there wasn't even a place to sit (no picnic table), we turned and walked back to the park headquarters. Saw a belted kingfisher.
Bob ahead of me on the River Trail

Bob ahead of me on the River Trail


Except for the birds, we didn't see any animals. However since jaguars are nocturnal, this was not a surprise.
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We drove back down the 6 mile long road. A very common sight were the weaver bird nests in the trees.They looked like some strange kind of gourd. We also saw a lizard.
Yellow blossoms on the entrance road

Yellow blossoms on the entrance road


After we left the preserve, we drove back out and stopped at Maya Center the Mayan village and bought a hair clip and a copper fish as gifts for our family. Then we set out down the Southern Highway.
Sleeping Policeman on the way back to Placencia

Sleeping Policeman on the way back to Placencia


Here we had one of the strangest encounters of our trip. We were at a detour, and a man flagged us down. He said he recognized the car from when it was parked at the co-op. His name was Mr. Martin. He asked us where we were going, and we said Placencia. He said his truck was broken down and he had just been to town to buy stock for his grocery store in Placencia. So he didn't want to leave the truck unguarded and his cell phone was losing its charge. But he had his young daughter with him and he asked us if we would take her to his wife in the store in Placencia and give his wife's uncle a message to come and get him. The little girl looked about 14 months old. So we agreed, and he gave us a bottle for her and her diaper bag. After we left him, I was thinking of all the ways that this could be a problem - would we be accused of kidnapping? I held her in my arms all the way down to Placencia. The drive took over an hour so I had plenty of time to worry. The child was very good and just lay in my arms. We found her mother and delivered both the child and the message. The mother wasn't particularly pleased and I hope she was mad at her husband and not us.

Then went back to Kitty's for dinner. We asked if we could eat there without a reservation, and they said to go up and ask the waiter. (Who said yes) We told them about our recent adventure and they were as astonished as we had been.
From the restaurant to the beach at dusk

From the restaurant to the beach at dusk


Kitty's Place: Fine Dining while Barefoot: Dining is above the gift shop which gives a good view out to the cabanas and the beach. Service is excellent, and the meal was the best I had while in Belize. Bob had grilled snapper fillet coated in fresh papaya and spicy jerk seasoning, and I had seafood lasagna and both were excellent. Saw some other folks with really yummy looking big thick steaks. Excellent veggies (zucchini and carrots) and rice. Also had sinfully rich chocolate cake for dessert. US$36.25 for two including tip, no drinks,

When we got back to our cabana, we both read some before bed.

Expenses (US $)
$9.23 gas
10.00 donation to the zoo
4.50 lunch
10.00 admission to the reserve
36.25 dinner
unk Tradewinds cabana
$69.98 US

Posted by greatgrandmaR 09:03 Archived in Belize Tagged hike placencia cockscomb_basin dangriga manatee_highway Comments (6)

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