“Oh my, what the heck is that ?” The hair on the back of our necks stood up as we sat there in amazement trying to figure out was it a Howler Monkey or a Jaguar. I mean they (Howler Monkey’s) really sound pretty menacing. But, here we were, we had finally made it down this bumpy, rutted six mile trail from the Southern Highway to the visitors center of the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Preserve.
See, since turning off Southern Highway and onto the trailhead that leads to the entrance of the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Preserve, I instinctively locked the doors, turned off the radio and sat straight up in the driver’s seat. I didn’t know what to expect and got myself ready for any surprises that may come . Would a Jaguar pounce on our vehicle and rip his claw through one of our tires disabling us , or a gang of Howler Monkeys jump on the roof rack and hood, and demand food as we drove slowly down the dusty, rutted six-mile road to the base camp. As we drove deeper into the jungle, and began to cross small streams, kicking up a trail of mud and dust, I had to turn on the vehicle headlights as the canopy of the jungle turned a pleasantly bright day into darkness. Now things were getting spooky! “You hear that?” I asked Tammy. I knew what I was hearing was the distinctive sound of a Howler Monkey in full roar. It’s nothing like you’ve ever heard before, the roar of a Howler Monkey, it will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Quickly I halted the vehicle, cut off the engine, and we sat there in disbelief at how loud and deafening the roar was from a creature so small. This was just the beginning and we had not reached the parks official boundary line yet. After driving which seemed like an eternity we reached the parks visitor center and had a sigh of relief. The visitors center was just like a jungle lodge right out of an African safari movie. With a thatched roof museum and interpretive center that houses all things Jaguar, we made our way in and decided whether or not if we wanted a guided tour or to take one of the many well-marked trails through the Jungle. After being assured we would not encounter any wild creatures that may size us up for lunch, we took the trail leading to a waterfall. This trail we were told was rigorous. Great we agreed, we had been training back home doing stair climbing at the gym, running and sprints, and knew we were up to the task. We were told by team members of Central America Overland Expeditions that we would want to be in good shape for the expedition that we wanted to do in Belize. Climbing ruins, kayaking, hiking and many other activities requires good physical stamina. As we hiked several miles through the jungle, it was surprising how cool it was, as the jungle canopy kept the temperature lower than being out in direct sun. As we climbed the trail we crossed streams, rocky outcroppings and traversed a rope bridge. Stopping occasionally to drink plenty of water, we’d pull out the binoculars and try to identify some of the many birds we saw. Finally arriving to the waterfall, it was refreshing and oh so cold. Although we did not see any Jaguars because they are nocturnal, it was fun to think they were watching us. If you’re planning a trip to Belize the Cosckscomb Basin Wildlife Preserve is a must do.