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Flora and Fauna

Flora Guatemala means “land of the trees,” and so it is not a surprise that around 35 percent of the country is forested. Deforestation for both illegal and legal purposes is having an impact on the country's diversity with trees being harvested to build mahogany furniture, for example. In the Petén region, you can find what are known as tropical moist and tropical wet forests. In these forests, you might come across the ceiba, a tree variety that Mayans thought was sacred. Cloud forest ecosystems exist around the Alta Verapaz region. The Pacific and Caribbean Coasts are home to mangrove forests. Guatemala is thought to have more than 8000 species of plants, including 600 or so orchid species, with around 200 of those endemic to Guatemala. In the cloud forests, you might see Guatemala’s national flower, known as “white nun” (monja blanca). Fauna Birdlife in Guatemala is varied, particularly in the rainforested areas of Petén and around Tikal. In these jungle areas, there are a variety of colorful parrots and toucans. Harpy eagles are also common in the Tikal area, as are ocellated turkeys, a bird that is similar to a peacock. There are approximately 700 bird species in Guatemala. The most famous bird for Guatemalans is the Quetzal. The bird, known for a bright red chest and long tail feathers, is found most commonly around Lake Atitlan. The Guatemalan national currency is named after the Quetzal, and in some areas there are projects to take care of Quetzals. Guatemala has a selection of interesting mammal life, with monkeys being the most predominant species. In the Petén areas, you'll be able to find howler and spider monkeys. In terms of bigger mammals, elusive jaguars live around Petén, Verapaces and Izabal, but sightings of these creatures are very rare. Other cat species include ocelot, puma and margay. Bats are particularly common in Guatemala, with more than 100 species recorded. Other mammals to be found are the tamandua anteater and the white-liipped and collared peccaries. The coastal areas are home to a number of different sea turtles. On the Pacific Coast, at Monterrico, you can visit the Monterrico-Hawaii Biotope to see olive ridley, hawksbill and loggerhead turtles. While you're at the beach, try your hand at deep sea fishing. Or head to the Atlantic to catch sight of manatee and dolphins. Guatemala has a variety of reptiles, including snakes and crocodiles, such as the Morelet crocodile and the American crocodile. You can find snakes found around Lake Yaxhá, and crocodiles around Petén and Izabal. Poisonous snakes that are native to Guatemala include the pit viper and rattlesnakes; there are also non-poisonous boa constrictors. Among the interesting amphibian life you might encounter are the Morelet’s tree frog, the red-eyed tree frog and the Fleischmann’s glass frog.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Guatemala: Eco-tourism In Guatemala,

By Paula Newton
I am V!VA's operations expert. With an MBA and a background in the Interactive Television industry in the U.K. I am the organizing force behind the...
22 Feb 2009

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