Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary

Mar 08, 2019 - National Geographic Quest


A full day of exploration today necessitated an extra early start of 5:45 this morning (yikes!). Luckily there was fresh coffee available, which we sipped with contentment, knowing our ever-nearing trip to Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary would well be worth arising before dawn.

The Cockscomb Sanctuary is the world’s only jaguar preserve and is home to the largest jaguar population worldwide. Not only is this rainforest a haven for jaguars, it is one burgeoning with wildlife of all kinds. Birds of more than 300 species, howler monkeys, a small galaxy of creepers and crawlers, and even more plant life set the stage. One of a few stunning highlights here was seeing the channels of leafcutter ants carrying the leaf haul down from the trees and across the path. Our photo instructor suggested that we take videos of the action, which turned out great!

Outside of looking for birds and learning about the native plant species, we had the opportunity to properly stretch our legs over a hike to Ben’s Bluff. The hike was hot, humid, and brought on plenty of sweat, but it also lent us the opportunity to cool off at a secluded waterfall on the way back.

We were anchored outside of Placencia and had a few different expedition options after lunch. Placencia is home to the world’s narrowest street, which some guests decided to stroll along and spend time in the local community. Various artisan shops, restaurants, and a top-notch ice cream shop were a few places guests stopped at. After exploring by land, we got to explore by small watercraft. The Zodiacs were deployed and we cruised around the mangroves looking for wildlife. Various birds, upside-down jellyfish, and iguanas were spotted. The local Belizean guides talked to us about the flora and fauna, and gave us a better glimpse into the community. We cruised through residential canals and were happy to get a small glimpse into Placencian life.

Though our day was long and the itinerary full, we weren’t about to miss our special evening event. The Garifuna Collective, an internationally sought-after musical group, agreed to come to our ship and perform for us tonight! This group is the only music group from Belize to tour worldwide. They have upcoming shows in New York’s Central Park, various countries in Europe, Africa, and more. We felt honored (and excited!) that they came to do a private performance. We spent the evening dancing off our dinner and dessert and letting the Garifuna funk fill our souls.

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About the Author

Shaylyn Potter

Undersea Specialist

Shaylyn was born and raised in small-town Oregon, which she credits for her unwavering love and respect for the natural world. Her passion for the outdoors and exploration began at a young age, and she spent her childhood taking full advantage of what Oregon had to offer—waterskiing, snowboarding, hiking, and camping.

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