We traveled to Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Reserve today from where we were staying in False Sittee Point
Thursday morning dawned warm and sunny yet again. This morning we had arranged with Kaleem to pick us up again to take us to Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary
for some more hiking and birding. We had read that the trails here were easier than we'd encountered in our previous day's hiking an Mayflower Bocawina National Park
, so we were looking forward to that. We knew we had another sweaty day ahead, but hoped the hiking and birding would make it all worth while.
When the taxi arrived, it turned out to be another driver, Julian, instead of Kaleem. He told us that the Rav4 was actually his and that the previous day had been his day off, so Kaleem was using his vehicle. He took us on a different route since he needed to fuel up at the Sittee River Marina. So, he drove us from False Sittee Point along the Sittee River, through Sittee Village, and out to the Southern Highway. It was a really scenic drive, but the rocky road (until we reached the paved portion at Sittee Village) was pretty slow-going. Julian said it can be impassable at times during rainy season.
After a seven-mile access road into the park (again, unpaved, bumpy, and slow-going), Julian dropped us at the park at 9:30 am, and we agreed for him to pick us up at 3:30 pm. We wanted to allow an hour longer than the day before since we basically ran out of time then. We hoped it would be enough time.
First we checked out the visitor center. We knew these would be the only jaguars we'd be seeing today as they are seldom seen by humans and are mainly nocturnal.
Here's some information about how the preserve was developed. Interesting to see that it is the first jaguar preserve established in the world -- and it's here in little Belize!
We started our hike on the easy Green Knowledge Trail. It was quite muddy, not my favorite hiking condition, but it was beautiful, and as usual, we had it all to ourselves, as we did all the trails today. There were frequent creeks alongside the trails as well as creek/stream crossings.
The leaves on the trail were hiding some very sticky mud
We saw many of these giant grasshoppers hopping and flying around. They grow 'em big in the tropics! Interestingly, the inside of their wings are bright fuschia, so they look really pretty, and almost like birds, when they fly. But it was impossible to get a photo of them in flight.
Belizean grasshopper -- at least 5" long
There were informational signs along the way on this trail. We found this one interesting and joked that we'd have a water source should we get lost in the jungle. Of course, there were all those creeks too.
Here's the "water bottle" vine. We had plenty of water with us so didn't try it this time.
Here's another sign about the roots on the kaway tree -- these were massive and so interesting.
Kaway "Tarantula" tree
There were lots and lots of leafcutter ants on the trails here. We tried very hard to look out for them (as we were already watching the ground for snakes). I find these little creatures fascinating. They work so hard!
I thought these blueberry-like fruits in the center of the red wildflowers were interesting and beautiful.
In addition to many exotic birds (which we'll save for a special post), there were many different butterflies flitting about. They rarely posed for photos, though!
Note the giant grasshopper on this sign
Time for a little snack break before continuing on
After completing the Green Knowledge Trail, leading to the Gibnut Loop, which we also hiked, our intention was to hike the 5K Antelope Trail. However, it wasn't obvious that we were supposed to cross a creek to get to the Antelope Trail so ended up on the Tinnamou Trail instead. We didn't know this until we got all the way out to the access road to the sanctuary and saw the sign at the other end. We ended up having to double back to figure out our mistake. However, it was actually worth it as towards the end of the Tinnamou, we encountered large animal tracks in the mud. We found out from a park employee later that these three-toed prints were made by the tapir
See the teeny-tiny hand-scratched arrow on the sign? That was the only clue to cross the creek to take the Antelope Trail. Continuing straight was the Tinnamou Trail.
This is where we should have crossed. Oops!
Hiking the Antelope...er...Tinnamou Trail
Crossing one of many creeks
Tapir tracks -- one of the few good things about mud
This guy has some large feet!
When we got to the access road and saw this sign, we realized that we were on the wrong trail. Time to backtrack!
After backtracking about half a mile, we crossed the creek we were supposed to cross. This is probably much dryer during dry season, but it was one of the few creek crossings without a bridge, so very easy to miss. We had to take our shoes off and wade. The cool water felt great on such a hot day!
On the Antelope Trail, we didn't see any antelopes, but we did come across this fascinating leaf-cutter village. Looked like they had built temples and apartment houses!
I loved the gothic-style entry on this one. Who knew leaf-cutters were such brilliant architects?
An obstacle along the way
And a pretty little waterfall
I was determined to make it across this creek without taking off my shoes. The rocks were slick, but I did it.
Huge hornet nest up in a tree -- fortunately we did not see any of its inhabitants
Sadly, even allowing an extra hour, once again we just barely made it back to the visitor's center at the designated time to meet our taxi. There was just so much to see, and we did stop many times to photograph and watch birds as we were hiking.
The very end of the Antelope Trail hooked up with a more open, grassy path back to the visitor's center, where there were a whole different variety of birds than what we'd seen in the jungle -- and so many of them. We wish we'd had more time to spend in this area, but we had to keep moving.
Julian arrived right at the designated time. On the way back down the access road, he stopped the car to let us check out a small plane wreck. I looked from afar since another stream crossing was involved, but Barry just walked on through -- leather hiking boots and all. He was able to get some good close-up shots of the wreck, as well as of the sign explaining it. Fortunately the pilot of the plane sustained only minor injuries.
Barry before dinner
Enjoying some well-earned relaxation in the palapa after dinner
We had decided the day before that we were going to need another day in Hopkins. We had originally planned to leave Friday morning. But we had only seen the village while riding the bus into town on Tuesday, then briefly when visiting the grocery store on Wednesday, so we wanted to explore more and try a couple of different restaurants. We needed a slower-paced day to rest up after all the hiking as well. We had already confirmed with Angela that we could stay Friday night, so after a couple of phone calls back home to extend Paisley's stay at the Pampered Paws and cancel our housekeepers for Saturday (since we wouldn't get home in time to let them in), we were all set for one more day in this lovely paradise!
[To be continued...]