If you are staying in Hopkins and you love nature, then you can’t miss the opportunity to enjoy a day at the super famous Cockscomb Jaguar Preserve. It is located only 30 minutes by car from the Viva Belize Hotels in Hopkins Village and organized weekly by their adventure desk. But this trip isn’t a regular hike through the jungle… be ready to get wet!
Cockscomb Jaguar Preserve has the largest concentration of Jaguars in the world. The government has set aside 150 square miles of rainforest in the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Preserve, which currently provides a protected environment for around 200 jaguars. It’s recognized internationally as the first jaguar preserve in the world, But as I mentioned before, it is highly unlikely that an actual Jaguar sighting will occur. These amazing wild cats are masters of stealth and their existence is based on them seeing and not being seen. Many guides told us during our several jungle hikes: "Probably today a Jaguar saw you but you didn’t even noticed that it was close".
This preserve is also important because of high population density of Pumas, Ocelot, Jaguarundi, Margay, Paca, Howler Monkey, Coatimundi, Brocket Deer... So you have to be always alert for any sign of wildlife because it could be any of these wonderful creatures.
So let the tour begin! After the short ride from Almond Beach Resort& Spa, you will get into the wild rainforest up until the entrance of the Preserve. First of all we made a little hike crossing a creek to the wreck of a small plane used by Alan Rabinowitz to track jaguars in this area. Alan was the first person to start studying the jaguars in Cockscomb and he is responsible for the foundation of this Jaguar Preserve. The plane crashed in the middle of the preserve and the plane is still there completely covered with vegetation and blended into the environment. Don't worry all the passengers were unhurt! You just don’t expect to see that in the middle of the jungle!
After that, the always-friendly guides will give you your tube and the real adventure begins with an easy and relaxed hike through the jungle and onto the river. During this hike, you can imagine a Jaguar crossing the path, sometimes if you are lucky you will have the chance to see a jaguar or puma footprint!
A short hike through some jungle trails takes you to the river bank where the river tubing begins. The views from the river on the tube are unbelievable. It looks like the trees are almost on the river. The watercourse breaks the rain forest in two parts so you have spectacular views of the interior of it. If you are near to the water you will have always more possibilities to see some of the great fauna that lives in that preserve. So keep your eyes open!
The funniest part of this sensational tour is coming to some rapid currents between some little islands in the middle of the river. You have to control the tube and be ready to enjoy and laugh! We felt guilty to break the silence and the calm of the jungle with our burst of laughter, but you need it and deserve it after this fantastic experience.
At the end of the river tubing experience we left our tubes and we went to a magical waterfall hidden in the middle of the mountain where we could swim in its natural pool and have a pure massage with the water falling on your body. It is the perfect way to end your day in the Belizean rainforest!