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Top Guatemala

Wildlife Watching

From the mangroves of the Pacific coast, to the cloud forests of the highlands, Guatemala is rich with wildlife. A traveler can go from butterfly pavilions to sea turtle rescues to reserves that are home to jaguars, spider monkeys and elusive manatees, all within a few days journey. If you’re a nature lover who’s looking for a unique experience, just keep your eyes peeled.

The Pacific Slope

Visitors who want to see wildlife will not be disappointed by a trip to the Pacific Slope. Biotopo Monterrico-Hawaii nature reserve is celebrated for its nesting leatherback and olive ridley turtles. Just down the beach in Parque Hawaii, there is a turtle research center and hatchery run buy a non-profit NGO called ARCAS. The organization specializes in the conservation of these endangered turtles. They also breed iguana and spectacled caiman, releasing the offspring into the wild. ARCAS runs tours to help support their project including birdwatching excursions and whale, dolphin and sea turtle sailing voyages.

The Highlands

The Atitlan Natural Reserve, located near the town of Panajachel, offers visitors the chance to see nearly 10 different varieties of native butterfly species in an enclosed butterfly preserve. Nature lovers can hope to find pisotes, coatimundi, and monkeys while using the reserves many trails and observation platforms.

El Petén

The Mayan Biosphere Reserve, when combined with the neighboring Calakmul reserve in Mexico, is the second largest tropical forest in the Americas. It is often most associated with its most famous attraction Tikal, but it should also be noted for its incredible amount or biological diversity. The reserve is home to several endangered species including scarlet macaws, jaguars and howler monkeys, to name a few. Visitors are almost guaranteed to glimpse some sort of spectacular wildlife just by hiking around. But, sadly, because of poaching and illegal pets trades, sighting animals like jaguars and macaws are scarcer every year. Wildlife tours can be set up though many different companies but it is highly recommend you go with a non-profit where your money will go to help support the conservation of the area.

Central and Eastern Guatemala

Between the mouth of Río Dulce and the town of Livingston, lies Biotopo Chocón Machacas. This densely forested reserve harbors the neotropical otter, several species of birds and the rare jaguar. It is also home to the highly endangered Caribbean manatee, one of the few remaining places they can still be seen in the country.

Located south of Cobán, Biotopo del Quetzal, a 1,500 hectare/2,841 acre reserve, was initially set aside to protect the resplendent quetzal, Guatemala’s national bird. The reserve is one of the few remaining cloud forests in the country and is prime habitat for nesting quetzals, spider and howler monkeys, and trigillos.

06 Jul 2010

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