Summiting Victoria Peak is the height of adventure in Belize. Rising abruptly from the lowlands, the jagged Cockscomb Mountains are an impressive mass of rock that is visible from the coast. Victoria Peak is the highest mountain in the range at a height of 3,675 feet and the second highest elevation in Belize.
The Victoria Peak Trail is open during Belize's dry season, February 1 - May 31. The out-and-back Victoria Peak Trail, which is 24 kilometers or approximately 15 miles one-way, is a 3-4 day hiking adventure in the great wilderness of Belize. All hikers must be accompanied by a licensed tour guide (experienced tour guides can be hired from the local communities buffering the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary).
"To show how seriously the [Kekchi] Indians viewed what lay ahead, they for the first time put their boots on..."
-Herbert T. Grant
The Cockscombs Revisited
The Victoria Peak Trail begins at the park headquarters of Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. In order to get an early start on the trail, an overnight stay at Cockscomb is recommended. Following an old logging track, the first stretch of trail is mostly flat. After crossing the Sittee River is the 12K camp, where you can enjoy lunch around the picnic table. A lot of hard work, by Trekforce Volunteers, has been put into developing the camping areas along the Victoria Peak Trail. The sites have cookware, so you don't have to carry extra weight in your backpack. A thatch palapa offers protection from the rain and is an ideal area to set up a medium-sized tent or camping hammocks. Please remember to leave no trace and pack out your garbage. And drink plenty of water; pit latrines are located at each campsite.
Most groups continue to the 19K on the first day, while their energy is still fresh. Jaguar signs and other wildlife activity are frequently seen along the way. The trail becomes more difficult, with a series of up and down grades, with no switchbacks. Among these is the infamous Heartbreak Hill. After a long day of hiking, enjoy the waterfall near the 19K camp.
Summit day is another full day of adventure. You will hike to the top of Victoria Peak and back to 19K camp. Leave your heavy pack at camp and bring a day-pack to carry your essentials. At the base of Victoria Peak, begin scrambling up a rocky stream bed, which leads above the moist tropical forest canopy. Most of the ascent is class 3 hiking and a rope is required to climb a short class 4 rock gulley. See the great expanse of Belize from the summit of Victoria Peak, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding wilderness. On a clear day you can see the beautiful coastline.
Victoria Peak Natural Monument has beautiful and unique flora. As you ascend above tropical moist forest, the vegetation changes to elfin shrubland, characterized by sphagnum moss and a canopy of trees is no more than two to three meters high. At this height, the East Basin of Cockscomb looks like a green carpet of forest stretching as far as the eye can see. Whatever trees are in bloom are easily seen. And just before the summit you will encounter a humid and rich forest environment sheltered by Victoria Peak. The fiery-colored orchid (Epidendrum ibaguense) is another botanical wonder of Victoria Peak. This rarity in Belize only grows at high elevations.
The History of Victoria Peak Natural Monument
The first recorded expedition to the Cockscomb Mountains in was led by Governor Roger T. Goldworthy in 1888. The,. from 1927 to 1928, there were three more expeditions into the Cockscomb Mountains. They found that the peak described by the Goldworthy Expedition was not the highest peak, and therefore not Victoria Peak. Clearly, whatever peak the Goldworthy Expedition climbed, the name "Victoria Peak" was given to the highest peak of the Cockscomb Range, in honor of Queen Victoria.
On May 2, 1998, Victoria Peak was declared to be a natural monument. Prior to this declaration, Victoria Peak was part of the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. At the Launching of the 30th Anniversary Celebration on February 6, 1999, an agreement between the Belize Audubon Society and the Government of Belize was signed, adding Victoria Peak and Blue Hole Natural Monuments to the list of protected areas managed by the Belize Audubon Society.
Victoria Peak Natural Monument can be accessed through Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary in the Stann Creek District of Belize. Visit the CBWS page for more details.
Plan Your Visit
Hours of Operation
Open February 1 - May 31.
Nationals- BZ $10.00
Non-nationals- BZ $10.00
Did You Know?
Before the Goldworthy Expedition in 1888, the mysterious high peak was said to be surrounded by a lake and unapproachable by man. The Maya people believed it was inhabited by an evil genii and mysterious creatures.