LOCATION: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.
DESCRIPTION: This is the largest protected area in Guatemala (1,844,900 hectares, including the buffer zone). It is divided into five types of zones.
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.
IMPORTANCE: Its large area allows for the genetic exchange of species requiring much living space. The Maya archaeological sites and zones give it historical-cultural relevance.
HOW TO GET THERE: From Flores, the capital of the Department of Peten, a paved highway runs to the Tikal National Park served by minibuses and buses with regular schedules. A dirt road continues to the archaeological site and village of Uaxactun. The road connecting Flores and San Miguel continues to the north to multiple use areas, and to the San Miguel-La Palotada Protected Biotope
DESCRIPTION: 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 Guatemala, 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.
IMPORTANCE: 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.
HOW TO GET THERE: By Highway CA-14 on the way to Coban, after the place known as La Cumbre, there is a turnoff to the village of Chilasco. From there, 12 km on an all-weather road take you to Chilasco. From there, by walking some two hours, you can visit the water fall of the same name. From this village, you can continue by 4-wheel drive vehicle to Finca Miranda and from there on foot (45 minutes) you can get to the Luisiana Cabin.
A path joins the Luisiana Cabin with the Las Nubes Cabin (a 6-hour trek).
Another access is to travel on Highway CA-9 to San Augustin Acasaguastlan and from there continue 23 km to the village of Albores, from which a 2-hour walk will get you to the Las Nubes Cabin.
SERVICES AND FACILITIES: The core zone of the Reserve has two equipped cabins, intended almost exclusively for scientific researchers. In Trinidad, neighboring the Albores Village, there is a small lodge where it is possible to obtain food.
The plans for the Biosphere Reserve contemplate the implementation, in the near future, of a low-impact tourist program.
IMPORTANT: It is obligatory to obtain prior authorization from Fundacion Defensores de la Naturaleza, which manages the area.
LOCATION: This biotope is located in the Department of Peten, on the eastern shore of Lake Peten Itza, 32 kilometers from the city of Flores.
DESCRIPTION: 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.
IMPORTANCE: It is the only forest reserve located on the shores of Lake Peten Itza and is a refuge for the minor mammals and birds of this particular basin.
HOW TO GET THERE: This is one of the protected areas with the best access in Guatemala. It is only 30 minutes from the Flores International Airport on the paved highway going to Tikal. The turn-off to Cerro Cahui is at kilometer 29.5 at El Remate village and from there it is a little less than 2 kilometers by an all-weather road which is in excellent condition. Minibuses and buses go to El Remate from Flores and from Tikal, but the Biotope can also be reached by water over the lake.
SERVICES AND FACILITIES: This biotope has two paths leading to the lookout points from which Lake Peten Itza and its eastern basin can be seen. An guidebook will help to identify the local species and to understand the ecology.
There are toilets, showers, a bathing area next to the lake, camping areas and a first aid post available. A bird-watching program will be implemented soon for which binoculars and local guidebooks can be rented.
Close to Cerro Cahui the visitor will find hotels of different categories. Starting in July of 1995, a Bed and Breakfast program in the homes of the residents of the El Remate Village will be an interesting and reasonable option.
On the northern shore of the Río Dulce, in the area known as El
Golfete, in theDepartment of Izabal.
The lagoons between the mangrove
swamps are particularly beautiful.
northeastern Peten within the Maya Biosphere
Reserve. This is one of the most remote protected areas in Guatemala.
This biotope contains the largest sweet water wetlands of Central America,
a refuge for innumerable resident and migratory birds.
The administration office for
the area is in El Naranjo, on the other side of the San Pedro river.
As there are no paths as yet for the public, it is recommended to visit the area by water and not by land. Boats can be rented at El Naranjo.
NOTE: As this area is managed by CECON and is used almost exclusively for conservation and scientific research, your visit requires prior authorization.
the northeast of Guatemala, in the Department of Izabal, forming a peninsula
which separates Amatique Bay from the Gulf of Honduras.
The region is particularly rich in marine resources, as the ecology of its shores on Amatique Bay is influenced by the Rio Dulce, and on the Gulf of Honduras by the waters of the Caribbean Sea.
The "confra" (a palm species) swamp is one of the rarest ecosystems in Guatemala and is exclusive to that region.
The inland area is rich in species
of mammals and birds.
HOW TO GET THERE:Punta
de Manabique can only be reached by sea from Puerto Barrios (Highway CA-9)
or from Livingston. Launch services must be contracted at the local municipal
docks. The voyage takes about an hour and a half by sea.
This biotope is located next to the Tikal National Park in the north of
Peten and is part of the Maya Biosphere
The bat refuge in the caves on
the cliffs in the center of the biotope is a spectacular sight at dusk
when thousands of bats leave the caves at once to begin their nocturnal
This feature gave the area the name "Zotz," which in most Maya
languages means bat.
Zotz is part of a biophysical unit with the Tikal
National Park, which permits important genetic exchanges.
SERVICES AND FACILITIES: Camping
area, latrines, cooking and washing facilities.
LOCATION: This park is located in the northwest of the Department of Alta Verapaz in the lowlands of northern Guatemala.
DESCRIPTION: This area consists of 10,000 hectares of mature forests and is of the few remaining woodlands in the region. Its condition has not been altered much, permitting conservation of many highly valued tree species, such as mahogany and sapodilla, as well as of mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles. Its soils, of karstic origin, are extremely fragile.
The main attraction of the area is the lagoon of incredible turquoise blue color, with its great variety of fish species. This round lagoon, with an area of only 5 square kilometers, has proven depths of up to 220 meters.
IMPORTANCE: It is the refuge of mayor mammals, such as Baird's tapir and the jaguar, as well as of migratory and resident birds. It forms an important ecological corridor.
HOW TO GET THERE: From Coban (Highway CA-14), take the road leading to Chisec and Playa Grande. The entrance to the park is at the village of San Marcos, 414 kilometers from Guatemala City.
By charter flight, the closest landing field is at Playa Grande.
SERVICES AND FACILITIES: The Sierra De Las Minas Biosphere Reserve here is a well-kept path with rest areas. From it you can reach two points on the lagoon, one 3 kilometers and another one 4.5 from the entrance. There are an information center, camping possibilities, latrines and a bathing area at the second site.
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.
LOCATION: In the Department of Izabal, south of Lake Izabal, it occupies the highest part of the Mico mountains, a continuation of the Sierra Madre.
DESCRIPTION: The Cerro San Gil is a mountain rampart which cuts off the breezes of the Caribbean Sea, making it an extremely humid region with an annual rainfall of more than 3,000 mm and more than 200 days of rain per year. The humidity varies between 100% in the eastern to 33.8% in the western part.
The combination of physical factors such as humidity, temperature and elevation have created a unique zone at the Cerro San Gil with tremendous biological value, because of its high endemicity and biodiversity.
Its forests conserve very important species of trees (mahogany, sapodilla and ramon, among others) and animals.
IMPORTANCE: This region is highly endemic and its forests are the source of sweet water for the northeast of the Department of Izabal.
HOW TO GET THERE: Two widely separated sectors are open to visits from the public. One of them, in the western part of the reserve can be reached from entrance to the village of San Marcos, located 16 Kms. to the north of La Ruidosa (Highway CA-13). From that entrance, 12 Kms will take you by dirt road to the village of Carboneras, where the visitors' center is located.
The other sector is on the lands of a hotel on Amatique Bay, 8 Kms. by dirt road from the port of Santo Tomas de Castilla.
SERVICES AND FACILITIES: The Carboneras Visitors' Center has a lookout point, toilets, lodging, camping area and cooking facilities, and is the starting point for three marked nature paths.
The area close to Santo Tomas de Castilla is open only for hotel guests. It has a 900-meter path, with 30 information stops.
LOCATION: In the western part of the Department of Izabal, on the western shore of Lake Izabal.
DESCRIPTION: 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.
IMPORTANCE: 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.
HOW TO GET THERE: It can only be reached by water from the lake ports of El Estor (Highway CA-14 to the San Julian crossing, them by National Road 7E), and from Mariscos (Highway CA- 9) on Lake Izabal.
SERVICES AND FACILITIES: El Estor and Mariscos have small hotels and restaurants. Boats may be rented there to visit the zone.
LOCATION: In the Municipal District of Lanquin in the Department of Alta Verapaz, on the Cahabon River.
DESCRIPTION: 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.
IMPORTANCE: This is a uniquely beautiful and marvelous monument of nature.
HOW TO GET THERE: From Coban, the capital of the Department of Alta Verapaz, Highway CA-14, then take National Road 5 (all- weather dirt road in good condition) to Lanquin and from there 8 Kms to Semuc Champey, either on foot or by 4-wheel drive vehicle.
SERVICES AND FACILITIES: There are lodging and eating places in Lanquin.