The Maya Mountains are a range of hills in west-central Belize that take their name from the Maya people who built great centers in the region. The Cockscomb Range is a spur of the Maya Mountains and includes Victoria Peak, a national monument of Belize.
The Maya Mountains are a range of hills located primarily in west-central Belize, extending across the border into eastern Guatemala, where it descends gradually, eventually becoming the Vaca Plateau. Finally, it falls more abruptly to the coastal plain east and north of Belize.
The Maya Mountains are mainly made of Paleozoic-era granite and sediments. The highest points (Doyle's Delight and Victoria Peak) occur in the transverse Cockscomb Range, which extends seaward perpendicularly from the main divide.
The mountains take their name from the Maya people, who retreated into the hills as the Spaniards advanced. The Maya left great centers on the southeastern periphery deserted behind them. These important Mayan sites include Caracol, Lubaantun, Nim Li Punit, Cahal Pech, and Chaa Creek.
The Cockscomb Range is a mountain chain in central Belize that is a spur of the Maya Mountains, extending east-west for about 16 km (10 mi). The name 'Cockscomb' is derived from its appearance, resembling a rooster's comb.
Lying within the Cockscomb Range are the highest mountain peaks in Belize: Doyle's Delight at 1,124 m (3,688 ft) and Victoria Peak at 1,122 m (3,681 ft), near Dangriga (formerly Stann Creek).
The mountains have stands of timber that, despite depletion, still constitute an economic asset. In addition, the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is found at the eastern end of the range and has a sizable population of jaguars.
Victoria Peak Natural Monument
Victoria Peak is Belize's second-highest mountain peak, at 1,122 m (3,681 ft). It is located in the Cockscomb Range, a spur of the Maya Mountains in west-central Belize.
Victoria Peak was pronounced a natural monument on May 2, 1998, adding it to the list of protected areas in Belize. It comprises approximately 1,960 ha (4,844 acres).
It is bordered by the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary (of which Victoria Peak was formerly a part), the Sittee River Forest Reserve, and Chiquibul National Park.
Victoria Peak is situated in a broad-leaved montane elfin forest. The tropical evergreen jungle has been damaged by hurricanes and fires caused by occasional lightning. These environmental factors have caused the ecosystem to become stunted.
The mountain receives approximately 2,500 mm (100 in) of yearly rainfall. However, it is windswept and cloud-covered with poor soil. As a result, the mountain is covered with non-calcareous rock, along with various plant species.
Topography map of Belize depicting the Maya Mountains and Cockscomb Range