Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary

Feb 16, 2019 - National Geographic Quest


We had an early departure to visit Cockscombe Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. This preserve encompasses more than 100,000 acres of rainforest and offers refuge to the diverse Belizean wildlife, including the king of the rainforest: the jaguar. The first group disembarked at 6:30 in the morning to make the most of the early hours to observe birds. The second wave arrived at the reserve two hours later. Walking across this incredibly lush forest, our expedition staff and local guides spotted a number of beautiful birds. We enjoyed impressive sights of native trees and experienced the way in which wildlife reverberates in this part of the world. We even came across fresh prints of jaguar and coati on the same trails that we hiked! After our visit to the sanctuary we stopped to appreciate crafts at the Maya Women’s Center and enjoyed some Belizean chocolate.

Upon our return to National Geographic Quest, we had lunch and readied ourselves to explore the mangrove areas surrounding the town of Placencia. Local guides shared with us their knowledge about the role of mangroves in this unique and fragile ecosystem, their relationship with the reef, and the fundamental role they play in keeping the delicate balance of life. We were very excited to encounter manatees and dolphins in the area.

Our day had a perfect ending with a show by The Garifuna Collective. By the end of their performance we were all dancing in the lounge to the rhythm of their traditional drums and percussions. What a treat of Belizean culture!

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About the Author

Clara Fuquen

Naturalist/Expedition Diver

Despite her origins high up in the Andes mountains, Clara has built a career working beneath the surface of the world’s oceans. Being trained as a diver in the Colombian Navy, she began her archaeological career working on the 18th century Spanish shipwreck Conquistador. Working on various underwater and terrestrial archaeological sites in the following years, Clara completed an undergraduate degree in anthropology at the Colombian National University, followed by a Masters degree in Maritime Archaeology in the UK’s Southampton University. Her subsequent PhD research focused on traditional boatbuilding in the remote jungles of Colombia’s pacific coast.

About the Photographer

José Calvo

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Nicknamed “Indio” (Indian) because of his powers of observation and quiet nature, José has almost two decades of experience working as a naturalist and photography guide; as well as being recognized as an expert birder and nature photographer in Costa Rica. Costa Rica is rich in biodiversity — over 893 bird species have been recorded in the country. Since very young José spent all of his free time in the outdoors in the forest, where he soon fell in love with the birds. He particularly enjoys listening to their calls, and watching their behavior. Oddly enough, another one of Jose’s passions is science and technology, and because of this, he was among the first in Costa Rica to experiment with digital photography. As the technology quickly improved so did his love for it.  He truly believes that nature photography is the perfect combination of both of his passions.

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