Cockscomb Basin & Placencia Lagoon

Mar 03, 2019 - National Geographic Quest

Having arrived in the Placencia Harbor overnight, it was just a matter of waking everyone up before the roosters had a chance to crow! Today’s excursion got off to such an ambitious start that breakfast was on the go. What was lost in the way of time was made up for in flavor, as the breakfast consisted an authentic Belizean fare of eggs, fruit, tortillas, and fried jacks. We were whisked away on the Zodiacs just as the sun began to crest over the Placencia harbor—and away we went, heading for Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary!

If a lush and flourishing array of wildlife to see here weren’t enough, this preserve, which has partitioned more than 120,000 acres of Belizean rainforest for the endangered jaguar population, is the only one of its kind. The Preserve has been a protected area since the mid ‘80s and is co-managed by the Belize government and the Belize Audubon Society.

At the park, groups were made according to what activities guests desired to do for the day. Some took a casual float on inner tubes along the South Stann Creek River. Others took the more industrious route, to sweat it out toward the top of Ben’s Bluff for a commanding view of the basin below, while others hiked to the waterfalls to swim, while still more, the last group got a chance to add some new species to their birding list! Afterwards, it was back to Placencia with a short stop at Maya Center Village for those who wanted to purchase authentic Mayan chocolate and various hand-made assortments.

After lunch, we were joined by Local Placencia tour guides in the Zodiacs to explore the lagoon and its environs. The guides gave a thorough explanation of the importance of the mangrove ecosystems found throughout the Belizean Coast and shared stories of growing up on the peninsula. Some groups also got the great fortune seeing the mammal that inspired the myth of the mermaid! Yes, the manatee was observed munching on the manatee grass in the lagoon. Most closely related to the elephant, this herbivore achieves weights exceeding 1,300lbs! (So much for going vegetarian.) After cruising the lagoon, it was back to National Geographic Quest, thus ending another beautiful day in Belize.

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About the Author

Randy Jones


Randy Jones hails from Northern Belize near the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, where his family lives. His childhood visits to CTWS instilled in him a deep love for birding, nature, culture and the environment.

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