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Category Index
Volcanoes Agua Volcano Pacaya Volcano San Pedro Volcano
Santa Maria Volcano  Tajumulco Volcano Ceibal & Aguateca-Dos Pilas Cultural Monument Iximche Cultural Monument
Quirigua Cultural Monument Panajachel Maya Biosphere Reserve Buenaventura de Atitlan


All of Guatemala's volcanoes are protected by law. The country's volcanic peaks vary in altitude from 1027 m.a.s.l. of the Culma to 4,220 m.a.s.l. of the Tajumulco, the highest peak in Central America. 

The geographical location, the climate and the topography make Guatemala's volcanoes very importanct as regards nature, as they are centers of endemic species. Scenically, they offer incredible panoramas of the Pacific Coast, of the highlands and along the volcanic chain. Many of these volcanoes, such as the Pacaya, the Fuego and the Santiaguito, are active and provide spectacular sights. 

ELEVATION:  3,766 m.a.s.l. 
LOCATION:  South of La Antigua Guatemala. 
POINTS OF INTEREST:  View over the Pacific Coast and the valley of La Antigua
POINT OF ACCESS:  Santa Maria de Jesus in the Department of Sacatepequez. 
COMMENTS:  There is a refuge cabin on its summit. 

Only an hour outside of Guatemala City is the trail-head for the two hour hike to the rim of an erupting volcano providing an unforgettable experience. Local guides are hired to show the way and ensure safety. This hike is normally done at sunset. 

ELEVATION:  2,552 m.a.s.l. 
LOCATION:  South of Lake Amatitlan, on the border of the Departments of Guatemala and Escuintla. 
POINTS OF INTEREST:  This is an active volcano which permits close observation of its eruptions. 
POINT OF ACCESS:  San Francisco de Sales. 
COMMENTS:  Climbing this volcano is only recommended in groups organized by travel agents. 

Further information may be requested from INSIVUMEH, the National Institute of Seismology, Volcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology. 


ELEVATION:  3,020 m.a.s.l. 
LOCATION:  South of Lake Atitlan in the Department of Solola. 
POINTS OF INTEREST:  Marvelous view of Lake Atitlan and the neighboring volcanoes. 
POINTS OF ACCESS:  San Pedro La Laguna in the Department of Solola. 
COMMENTS:  Because of its forest cover, the lake can only be seen from the summit. 
A guide should be hired to climb this volcano. 

 This volcano provides one of the most spectacular views of the line of volcanoes that make up the ridge along the Pacific Coast. You are provided with a bird's-eye-view of the active volcano, Santiaguito. Camp at the summit and enjoy a magnificent sunrise and sunset surrounded by volcanoes. After climbing down soak in natural hot springs close to the Mayan Indian town of Zunil. 

ELEVATION:  3,772 m.a.s.l. 
LOCATION:  South of the city of Quetzaltenango. 
POINTS OF INTEREST:  Views of the Pacific Coast, the valley of Quetzaltenango and the neighboring volcanoes. 

Pine forests grow on the slopes, coarse straw on the summit. 

From the summit of the Santa Maria you can observe the active Santiaguito (2,488 m.a.s.l.) volcano, but it is not advisable to descend to it, because of toxic gases and boiling emissions. 

POINT OF ACCESS:  The Llanos del Pinal village near the city of Quetzaltenango
COMMENTS:  As the summit of this volcano is bare, it is recommended to take a tent which can stand up to strong winds. 

Mules or horses can be hired to carry the backpacks and camping gear to the summit while you enjoy a hike of 2-3 hours of slowly increasing altitude. Camp at the summit of the volcano, the highest in Guatemala (14,200') to enjoy a beautiful sunrise and sunset. 

ELEVATION:  4.220 m.a.s.l. 
LOCATION:  Tajumulco in the Department of San Marcos. 
POINTS OF INTEREST:  This is the highest peak in Central America. 
Views of the Pacific Coast and the volcanic 
chain can be seen. 
POINT OF ACCESS:  Sibinal in the Department of San Marcos. 
COMMENTS:  It is recommended to hire a guide. 

LOCATION: In the Municipal District of Sayaxche, in the southwestern part of the Department of Peten. 

DESCRIPTION: Ceibal and Aguateca-Dos Pilas form a unit of small protected areas in the basin of the La Pasion River, with primary forests and first-class archaeological sites. They have provided very important historical data on the decline of the great Maya cities in the region. 

Ceibal is the best conserved and most restored site and includes a complex of palaces and stelae. 

This particular region is one of the most interesting combinations of river settings, natural beauty and archaeological treasures. 

IMPORTANCE: The existence of important archaeological ruins which prove the importance of the La Pasion River region. 

HOW TO GET THERE: By National Road 5 from Flores, the capital of the Department of Peten, to Sayaxche and then on to Ceibal. Ceibal, and the archaeological sites of the Aguateca-Dos Pilas Park (Aguateca, Dos Pilas, Punta de Chimino and Tamarindito), can also be reached by river. 

SERVICES AND FACILITIES: Sayaxche has eating places and lodging. There is a very high-class hotel at Punta de Chimino. 


LOCATION: Two kilometers from Tecpan in the Department of Chimaltenango. 

DESCRIPTION: The Iximche archaeological site, which was the capital of the Kakchiquel Indians at the time of the Conquest, is located in a small pine forest. It is one of the few sites with a documented history. The first capital of the Kingdom of Guatemala was founded next to Iximche, but soon moved to what is now known as Ciudad Vieja. 

IMPORTANCE: Iximche is of great archaeological and historical value. The Memorial de Solola, an ancient document of Indian history, refers to this site repeatedly. 

HOW TO GET THERE: Tecpan lies on Highway CA-1 at Km. 90 and can be reached easily by car or bus. The Iximche site lies 2 Kms. from Tecpan. 

SERVICES AND FACILITIES: A small museum. In Tecpan and on the Pan American Highway there are various eating places and restaurants. 


LOCATION: This archaeological site is located in the Municipal District of Los Amates in the Department of Izabal. 

DESCRIPTION: Quirigua is one of the smallest, but nevertheless most outstanding Maya cities due to its splendid monuments. It includes Stela E, which is the largest block of stone sculpted by the Maya (a little more than 10 meters tall). The site contains eleven additional stelae, four zoomorphs (stones sculpted to represent mythological animals), and temples. 

IMPORTANCE: Being one of the most important Maya sites, UNESCO declared it to be a Cultural Heritage of Humanity. 

HOW TO GET THERE: Highway CA-9 goes directly to the town of Quirigua and the site is 2 Kms. from there. 

SERVICES AND FACILITIES: The archaeological area has an information center, toilets, and facilities for camping and outdoor cooking. It is recommended to spend the night at Rio Dulce, Mariscos or Puerto Barrios. 


The village of Panajachel on the shore of the beautiful Atitlán Lake has art galleries, textile, handicraft shops and restaurants of different kinds. Like in Antigua there are several confortable hotels. 
Around the lake, going by boat or by road, you can visit 12 beautiful villages, where the mayan people live with its traditions. On the right side of the lake you can find the villages of Santa Cruz, Tzununá, San Marcos, Santa Clara, Santa Maria Visitación, Santa Clara, San Pablo, San Juan y San Pedro, both at the foot of Volcán de San Pedro

Santiago Atitlán at the foot of Volcán de Tolimán y Atitlán.In the left side of the lake you can find San Lucas, at the foot of the Volcán de Tolimán, and very near by boat is San Antonio Palopó and Santa Catarina Palopó. Over the mountains and by road you may visit Agua Escondida, Godinez, and San Andres Semetabaj. 

The mail boat, sailing everyday in the morning may take you across the lake for a visit to the charming village of Santiago Atitlán on the opposite shore and come back at noon.The town of Santiago Atitlán is located on an embankment of broken lava. 

The Bay of Santiago is amazingly beautiful, it is surrounded by the three volcanoes mentioned above and to the south, by a volcanic range crorwned with fantastically formed crests, mute witnesses to formidable geological cataclysms which occurred in the remote past. 
The range and the summits of the volcanoes are covered by luxuriant forests of the type called subtropical very wet mountain forest, in which pine, oak and other native species predominate. 
The tz?utujil people have their own regional dress. For men, this consists of short trousers reaching to the knee, white with purple strips, and held at the waist with a long band, hat and long-sleeved shirt (in earlier times the shirts were made locally). Women wear colorful cotton blouses white with red and purple vertical strips, with geometric designs and small multicolor birds embroidered into them. 

A few miles to the south of the town of Santiago Atitlán is the lookout of king Tepepul, which is the gateway to the Quetzal Reserve, the habitat of this bird which is the symbol of Guatemala, and an ideal place from which to see the slope of the highlands and the plains of the coastline of the Pacific Ocean.The town of Santiago Atitlán continues to preserve its traditional cultural personality, despite changes in the community brought about by contact with the outer world. The houses are generally distributed around patios{yards}which are used to raise domestic animals and carry out other activities, such as the manufacture of handicraft. Except for the center, the town is made up of narrow alleyways which zigzag in apparent disorder along the length and the breath or the urban hub. 
Tz?utujil is the local language of Santiago Atitlán. This belongs to the Maya family of languages, and it is one of the 24 Maya languages spoken in Guatemala. Although most people speak Spanish, there are cases of persons who only know tz?utujil, particularly the elders and the women. 


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 the country (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 (see details in the National Parks Section), 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 


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 walk-ways, 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 

5. Visitors Center with a 110 m2 (1,200 sq. ft. visitor reception area which includes offices, men's and women's rest rooms a refreshment/souvenir area, a 140 mt2 (1500 sq. ft.) landscaped waiting/resting area, and a parking area for both buses and private vehicles (completion date scheduled for July. 1995). 

Prices for entry into the Nature Reserve are as follows: Adults US$20.00; Students US$10.00; Children US$10.00: Families US$35.00; Groups with more than 6 people US$12.00 each. These prices include visit to the Butterfly Preserve, the Nature Trails and the Bird Refuge. 

The Nature Trails and the Bird Refuge is open from 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. , and is selfguided. Earlier visitation is possible with permission from the Administration. 

The Butterfly Sanctuary is open from 10:00 A.M. to 3;00 P.M. daily, and is guided in either Spanish or English. A complete tour of the Reserve takes from 2 to 3 hours, while the guided visit to the Butterfly Preserve alone takes 30 to 45 minutes. 

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