Maya Mountains: Cockscomb Range, Victoria Peak (Belize)

Maya Mountains: Cockscomb Range, Victoria Peak (Belize)

Mon, 08/03/2020 - 19:59

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.

Maya Mountains

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. It falls more abruptly to the coastal plain in the east and north within 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 mountains 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.

Cockscomb Range

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, in that it resembles 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. The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is found at the eastern end of the range and has a sizable population of jaguars.

 

Topography map of Belize showing the Maya Mountains and Cockscomb Range
Topography map of Belize showing the Maya Mountains and Cockscomb Range

 

Victoria Peak Natural Monument

Victoria Peak is the second highest mountain peak in Belize, at 1,122 m (3,681 ft) asl. 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 rainfall per year. However, it is windswept and cloud- covered with poor soil. The mountain is covered with non-calcareous rock, along with various plant species.