Cockscomb Area Lodging
The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the flagship national parks of Belize. It consists of more than 100,000 acres of protected land. On three sides rise the Maya Mountains. Cockscomb is home to at least several dozen jaguars. Pumas, margay cats, jaguarundis, tapirs, peccaries, coatis, kinkajous, brocket deer and other animals are also in the preserve, along with some 300 species of birds. Logging in the past has left its mark, but there is plenty of real “jungle.” February through May is the dry season here; the rest of the year can be very wet, with up to 180 inches of rain. Entrance fee to the park is US$5.
Some accommodations are available in the Cockscomb preserve. Near the visitor center, both dorm-style beds (US$20) and cabins (US$50) are available. There also is a camping area and a communal kitchen. Bring plenty of bug juice. For information and reservations, contact the Belize Audubon Society, which administers Cockscomb, in Belize City: 12 Fort St. (P.O. Box 1001, Belize City); tel. 501-223-5004, fax 223-4985; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; www.belizeaudubon.org.
If you show up without reservations, you can probably arrange to stay in the park by talking with one of the rangers at the visitor center.
THREE STARS Mama Noots Jungle Resort, Mayflower area, (P.O. Box 165, Dangriga); tel./fax 501-422-3666; e-mail email@example.com; www.mamanoots.com.
Directions: From the junction of the Stann Creek Valley Hwy. (Hummingbird Hwy.) and Southern Hwy. near Dangriga, take the Southern Hwy. 6 miles south. Turn right (watch for Mayflower and Mamanoots signs) and go 4 miles on a rough unpaved road to the lodge gate. If you want to get “backabush” in southern Belize, and to do so in a ecologically responsible manner, this jungle lodge might be right for you. Electricity comes from a combination solar, wind and hydro system, and most of the fruits and vegetables served at the lodge restaurant, in an open-air cabaña, are grown organically at the lodge. The grounds are kept well-chopped so there’s an open, airy feel about the setting, though the rainforest is all around. Accommodations are in six double rooms, and in one large duplex thatch cabaña. All rooms have queen-size beds, with ceiling fans, screened windows, mosquito nets and private baths. As it can be very rainy here, owners Kevin and Nanette Denny (he’s American, she’s Belizean) suggest guests bring lightweight “jungle clothing” along with a poncho, plenty of insect repellent and an adventuresome spirit. The lodge is near the Mayflower reserve and archeological site, where excavation and restoration have recently begun. You can hike jungle trails and explore nearby waterfalls. Birding and wildlife spotting are excellent. Occasionally, jaguars have been seen near the lodge. Room rates are US$96 double including tax, or US$167 double including meals and tax. The cabaña is US$126 for two.
ONE STAR Nu’uk Che’il Cottages, Maya Centre, Stann Creek District. At Maya Centre on access road to Cockscomb; tel. 501-520-2021; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Owners Ernesto and Aurora Saqui offer simple but comfortable rooms in thatch cabañas, (separate bath facilities). They can provide transport to and tours of the Cockscomb preserve for individuals and groups. Ernesto has served as the sanctuary’s director and is very knowledgeable about the flora and fauna. Aurora is the niece of the late Don Eligio Panti, the famed Mayan healer. Rates are about US$20 double. There is also a restaurant here serving local dishes. The H’men Herbal Center and Medicine Trail is on the grounds (US$2 to walk it if you are not staying here.)
+ Mejen Tzil Lodge (501-520-2020, email@example.com) is basic but clean, with screened windows and fans. Bath facilities (including hot shower) are in a separate building. It’s operated by Yoli and Lib Saqui and their family.
You can camp at on the beach at Tipple Tree Beya Inn or near the Sittee River at Toucan Sittee in the Hopkins area. If you want to be in real rainforest, the Cockscomb preserve has a camping area (US$5 per person, plus US$1 for use of cooking facilities.) If you don’t have a tent, you can probably rent one in Maya Centre for US$10.