Ecotourism - Nature Reserves




Cornucopia de Birds Code:Brd14



El Peru Scarlet Macaw Research Code: Guac4






The Maya Biosphere Reserve
This reserve is located in the municipal districts of Flores, La Libertad, Melchor de Mencos, San Andres and San Jose of the Department of Peten. It covers approximately the northern half of this Department above parallel 17, and has international boundaries with Mexico to the west and north, and with Belize to the east.
The site of the Reserve was the settlement of the classical Maya culture and it contains an enormous number of very important archaeological sites, such as El Mirador, El Zotz, Piedras Negras, Tikal and Uaxactun.

The Sierra de las Minas Reserve
In the eastern part of Guatemala in the Sierra de las Minas mountain range, in the Departments of El Progreso, Baja Verapaz, Alta Verapaz, Zacapa, and Izabal. This is a mountainous region, as indicated by its name, rising from 150 to more than 3,000 meters above sea level. It is the most important cloud forest reserve in the country, but it also includes tropical and conifer forests due to its size and variety in altitudes.
Among its tree species, the Sierra de las Minas has fir, cedar, oak, liquidambar, and pine. The conservation of its forests has made it into a refuge for major mammals (jaguars, pumas and deer) and threatened birds, such as the quetzal and the horned guan. It is also the only place where the harpy eagle has been found in Guatemala in recent years.
It contains K’ekchi, Pokomchi and Ladino communities. As regards biology, the Sierra de las Minas is of great importance because of its great diversity of ecosystems and species. Recent studies indicate the presence of species which have not yet been or recorded. It is a refuge for many endangered species.

The Cerro Cahui Natural Biotope
This biotope is located in the Department of Peten, on the eastern shore of Lake Peten Itza, 32 kilometers from the city of Flores. This is one of the smallest protected areas in Peten measuring only 650 hectares which contain a hill with altitudes of from 110 to 300 meters above sea level. Because of its location next to Lake Peten Itza it has unique ecological characteristics. This biotope covers the lake shore, ponds and a mature forest, and provides a rich array of plants and animals. As the it was partially exploited in the past and then allowed to recover, one here one can learn about the regeneration process of the regeneration of a tropical forest.

The Natural Reserve of San Buenaventura Atitlan
The Nature Reserve occupies half the valley of San Buenaventura in Panajachel, on the shores of Lake Atitlán It has more than 100 hectares of native forest. Its goal is the conservation of tine natural surroundings in the Lake Atitlán Basin. The Nature Reserve is committed to biodiversity with the certainty that humans are as rich and diverse as their environment. This privately funded project intends to be an economically viable alternative to the traditional uses of land and natural resources in the area.
Its achievements already include the planting of more than 180,000 trees in the valley of San Buenaventura, the installation of efficient wood burning stoves in the neighboring communities, garbage recycling, and the use of solar energy and biodigestors. At present the Reserve has the following facilities:
1. Nature Trails with signs offer self-guided walks through the
characteristic ecosystems of the North Shore, using a highly informative 12 page guide, printed both In Spanish and English.
2. Enclosed Butterfly Preserve with approximately 5,625 cubic meters (170,000 cu. ft.) of flight space, a 2,500 cu. Ft. breeding laboratory for pupae and chrysalis with information on the butterflies life cycle more than 2,000 plants and approximately 500 live specimens of nearly 25 species of native Guatemalan butterflies.
The Butterfly Preserve illustrates the importance of these insects in nature and allows us to explore the relationship that humans have with their environment. The management of large populations of these insects will also allow their reintroduction in the area.
3. A Bird Refuge that at present has temporary trails for visitor to enter the area which will be developed into a formal, protected bird refuge over the next 2 years. Planting for bird sustenance will include an estimated 600 native fruit tress and thousands of native flowering and seed plants. This refuge will contain elevated walkways, tree platforms and suspensions bridges in order to allow the visitor traffic views of the area and its animal life without unduly intruding upon it.
These measures should attract native and migrating birds while creating conditions for visitors and scholars to observe the birds without disturbing them. Completion dates for both the planting and the trail/platform/bridge systems is October 1995.
4. Orchid Garden Within the Butterfly Preserve with, at present, some 50 species of the more than 500 species native to Guatemala

Chocon Machacas Reserve & Biotope
On the northern shore of the Río Dulce, in the area known as El Golfete, in the Department of Izabal. Its 7,600 hectares include mature forests on dry land, flooded forests, mangroveswamps, canals and lagoons. This biotope has estuarine ecosystems, which are the habitat of many aquatic species of flora and fauna. Red mangroves, the acutus crocodile, the manatee and the nutria are some of its most outstanding species.
The lagoons between the mangrove swamps are particularly beautiful.

Chocon Machacas was declared a protected area to conserve the endangered manatee and because its estuarine ecosystems are an important refuge for aquatic fauna.

Polochic River Delta
The Polochic River forms a delta where it flows into Lake Izabal and creates a swampy region containing fauna especially adapted to the area. This site is a refuge for manatees and sweet-water sharks.
The bird population is particularly varied and abundant, and even more so during bird migration seasons. It is an excellent place for bird watchers.
This is the second largest sweet water wetlands area in Guatemala. It is of international importance because it is a station for migratory birds and forms an ecological corridor between the Sierra de las Minas, the Sierra de Santa Cruz and the reproduction zone for Lake Izabal’s fisheries resources.

Quetzal Biotope
San Carlos University, in its interest to preserve the quetzal’s natural environment, established the Mario Dary Rivera Nature Reserve (Biotopo del Quetzal), located 160 kilometers from Guatemala City, in the northern highlands. It is easily accessed by paved road.
Even though sighting a quetzal is a rare event, the area is a paradise not to be missed. Tourists will be transported to a magic world of tumbling waterfalls, babbling brooks, fresh fragrant ferns, and ancient trees which harbor a variety of toucans, owls, hummingbirds, bluejays and hundreds of different varieties of orchids and exotic flowers.
There are different paths to choose from, depending on how far the visitor wants to go. Information about the Reserve and a detailed guide to the park is available at the entrance.
The quetzal preservation sanctuary has two trails that one can climb (they are steep, but easy to follow): a short and a long one. In addition to the opportunity of catching a glimpse of a quetzal, the vegetation along these trails is more than spectacular. Birds of paradise and orchids are at home here.

The Semuc Champey National Monument
In the Municipal District of Lanquin in the Department of Alta Verapaz, on the Cahabon River. This site, surrounded by a rain forest, consists of many pools set in limestone, whose waters cascade down the different levels.
The colors of the waters vary from emerald green to turquoise. The scenery is spectacular. Although the forest consists mostly of broadleaf trees, pine of the caribea genus is also abundant.

Monterrico Natural Reserve
This area, which is located in Taxisco, Santa Rosa, is approximately 115 kilometers from the capital. It was created to foment the reproduction and conservation of the marine turtle, the crocodile, the green iguanas and the mangle forest. The reserve includes an estuary and marine coast with hot, dry subtropical climate. The turtle area is located near the beach where the eggs of the Baul and Parlamas turtles are protected.


Mushrooms along horse trail - Maya Expeditions

Clic here to print this page Click to print this page