Conquering the Cockscomb with a Legend !

Posted: July 21, 2014 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel

Doyle Gardiner has a passion for educating visitors to Belize about his jungle, the Cockscombs Sanctuary as a matter of fact! In our opinion, he is one of the most  knowledgeable, professional, and entertaining guides we’ve ever had the pleasure of doing an excursion with. He’s guided World Wildlife Fund Photographers and had the opportunity to take Jessica Biel and many other notable guests on his tours. While we’re just an expedition crew looking to experience all aspects of Belize’s Flora and Fauna, we felt privileged to go with such an esteemed guide. From all accounts, word of mouth, social media and locals alike praising his passion for educating, inspiring and creating a new level of awareness about the Cockscomb, I don’t think it would be to far of a stretch to say he’s a local legend. So how would we rate our experience ? Most excellent, the best ever, a no miss must do if you’re coming to Belize! All of the above.

Booking our tour to Cockscomb with Doyle was very easy. After we had recently toured Monkey River with Nite Wind Tours in which his family owns (we did not know previously), we asked Dana at the front desk about the Cockscomb Sanctuary tours. She then gave us Doyle’s card and we emailed him (doylegardiner@yahoo.com) to set it all up. At the time we did not realize that Dana is Doyles mom. That’s one thing we certainly love about Belize is the family relationships. Also he has office located on the main road in town you can’t miss.

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On Saturday morning we woke up early excited for adventure. Here we were heading to Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary for a day of outdoor adventure and fun not realizing just how special this day was going to be.  Anxiously awaiting  to be picked up, we  went over our checklist for what seemed like the tenth time in the last 30 minutes. Doyle had prepared us concerning what to wear and what to bring so we knew we were in excellent hands. ” Swimming gear, towels, extra sunscreen, sunglasses, binoculars, camera, hiking boots……check! ”

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The 45 minute road trip up the leading  up to the Cockscomb entrance road was great and seemed to go by quickly as we enjoyed the scenery diving through the banana plantations and the savannah. After a brief stop at the Mayan Center Womens Group Center and gift shop, it was time to take a seven mile bumpy road to the sanctuary.  It’s located deep in the jungle off the Southern Highway and accessible only by this road that is difficult to traverse in the rainy season.

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What does the Belize Audubon Society have to say about Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary?  People who understand the value of Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary know that it is much more than a natural area set aside for jaguars. The area was designated to protect the upper watersheds of important river systems that deliver ecosystem services to people. Cockscomb has two distinctive basins, which are separated by a ridge of land. The East Basin drains into South Stann Creek and the West Basin drains into Swasey River, a tributary of Monkey River. In the Maya Mountain extension of the Sanctuary is Trio Branch, this ultimately drains into Monkey River Watershed .

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Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is a reservoir for biodiversity. Hundreds of species of plants with exotic leaves and flowers, colorful insects, singing birds, furry mammals, scaly reptiles, and wide-eyed amphibians live in this complex tropical forest. Each one is adapted to the conditions that make the community unique. The mosaic of ecosystems in this rugged landscape suggests the limited extent of our knowledge of the Sanctuary’s biodiversity.

Upon arrival in the sanctuary, Doyle guided us through the jungle educating us about the history of the sanctuary, how it began, why and what the sanctuary is and means to Belize’s ecosystem today. Pointing out animals that we would have never seen on our own, and demonstrating just how awesome the flora and fauna are, he continued to amaze and surprise us with his inexhaustible and extensive knowledge. “Watch this” he said as he picked up a supersized ant. Showing us the strength of its bite by having it bite a stick one hundred or more times its weight and hold on to the stick in its teeth. I was mortified thinking about the damage an ant like this could do to you. ” You don’t want to get bitten by one of these. ” he exclaimed, as he was holding the ant whose bite was so strong that the stick did not fall to the ground. We were blessed to see and experience birds and insects of all sorts.

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After our Flora and Fauna hike we had a good lunch to prepare us for our next activity, tubing!  We each picked up an inner tube and hiked about 20 minutes or so to the South Stann Creek River. River tubing down a jungle river should be on everyone’s bucket list. The sites, the sounds, the smells cannot be imagined. The water was very refreshing after the humidity of the jungle hike, and I can tell you lazily floating along on the gently flowing river through the  jungle is one of the most relaxing and effortless things we’ve done since being in Belize. We did not want the tubing to end.

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Existing the river was hard to do, but there was more jungle to experience.  Hiking another 20 minutes to a gorgeous waterfall over  fairly steep and sometimes difficult terrain was slow going but was worth the effort. The waterfall is an oasis in the middle of paradise. We swam and played, enjoying the rewards of our effort and under Doyle’s advice drank the unbelievably clear and clean water. It felt as if we were the only people on the planet.

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Prepared to hike back down back down as we came, Doyle gathered us up for a safety briefing and explained to us about his plans to get us back to the main camp site via the cascading rocks and falls. We got the biggest smiles and giggles just hearing the news and honestly I started to feel like a ten-year old. How much more could this adventurous jungle venture get? ” Trust me !” shouted Doyle. “I got you” he shouted over the roaring rushing water, as we slid precariously over slippery rocks on our butts. Just like a slip and slide back in the day, we went from one refreshing pool to the next for what seemed like a half mile before we exited the water and got back on the jungle trail. Under the expert guidance of our fearless leader, we slid down and jumped, dove and cannonballed in and off numerous rock formations. This experience was the highlight of our entire adventure.

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In conclusion, we’d do this tour again.  Now, of course you could explore Cockscomb on your own, but we bet you wouldn’t experience as much. Doyles expert knowledge, years of experience and training, made this tour what it is. He’s a walking talking encyclopedia of all things jungly and specifically the Cockscomb. He shared with us so many things that we would never have seen, taught us more than we could imagine, and allowed us to experience Cockscomb on a whole new level we never thought possible.

You can connect with Doyle at 011- 501-600-2318 / doylegardiner@yahoo.com

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Comments
  1. Chef Bourque says:

    Paradise maybe? Aieee!

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