BEST BIODIVERSITY HOTSPOTS IN GUATEMALA

CENTRAL AND WESTERN HIGHLANDS

It is the region with the highest rates of endemism in the country. Geomorphology is made up of mountains, valleys and the highest volcanoes in Central America. The predominant vegetation consists of mountain forests (broadleaf), pine - oak forests, cloud forests and paramos in the highest areas of the western plateau. The vegetation of this region resembles that which can be found in some of the forests of North America. Some of Guatemala's most representative tourist sites are Antigua Guatemala, Lake Atitlán, Quetzaltenango (Xelaju), Chichicastenango and Los Cuchumatanes.

 

FINCA EL PILAR

Located in the heart of the Central Volcanic Chain (CVC) just a few minutes away from the beautiful colonial city of Antigua Guatemala. This Finca protects some important pine - oak and cloud forest patches. It reaches a maximum altitude of 8695 ft. above sea level and is the perfect place to go birding (+ 150 spp) hiking and mountain biking. BWA customers have exclusive access to camping sites, hiking trails and routes, such as the one used to ascend to the top of El Cucurucho Hill.

With more than 20 kilometers of internal roads, forest trails and a very varied topography, Finca El Pilar is an excellent spot to preform mountain biking. El Pilar is the ideal place for long ascents, but also for some downhill sections.

The site has hosted multiple mountain bike and trail running races, which guarantees a good quality on its rustic trails. BWA coordinates with specialized mountain bike guides so that our clients choose the best routes according to their technical and physical capacities.

Some interesting species:

Kanak (Chiranthodendron pentadactylon)

Highland Guan (Penelopina nigra)

Rufous Sabrewing (Campylopterus rufus)

Bushy Crested Jay (Cyanocorax melanocyaneus)

Rufous – Collared Thrush (Turdus rufitorques)

Anzuetoi Arboreal Alligator Lizard (Abronia anzuetoi)

Jewel scarab (Chrysina sp.)

Ogyges Passalid (Ogyges laevissimus)

ACATENANGO VOLCANO

One of the three volcanoes that surround Antigua Guatemala’s valley and that composes the Central Volcanic Chain.

It has an altitude of 6020 feet above sea level, and from its summit is the best place to observe Fuego Volcanos' eruptions; one of Guatemala's 4 active volcanoes.

The hike to the top is moderate and takes about 6 to 7 hours. The campsite is set on special platforms where you will have a front view of Fuego Volcano amazing night-time eruptions and an unforgettable sunrise.

To make the ascent more comfortable BWA customers can hire, at an additional cost, horses to carry their luggage to the camp site and back to the trailhead of ascent.

Some interesting species:

Bushy crested Jay (Cyanocorax melanocyaneus)

Blue throated motmot (Aspatha gularis)

Guatemalan Pine Snake (Pituophis lineaticollis),

Banded cat-eyed snake (Leptodeira septentrionalis),

Longnose Salamander (Bolitoglossa rostrata)

Oak (Quercus sp.)

SAN PEDRO VOLCANO

Located on the shores of Lake Atitlán, the largest body of water in the Western Highlands of Guatemala.

It has a height of 9908 feet above sea level and protects a pine – oak and cloud forest at the top of the cone. The climb to the top and cloud forest is relatively easy, and takes about 4 to 5 hours.

From the summit, in addition to the beautiful views of Lake Atitlán, the main objective is to spot the elusive Horned Guan (Oreophasis derbianus). This is a bird species that lives exclusively in the cloud forests of the mountains and volcanoes of Guatemala's highlands and part of southern Mexico (Chiapas).

To observe the bird, it is necessary to make the ascent around 3:00 AM and wait for the sunrise in the volcano cloud forest.

Smooth bark pine (Pinus pseudostrobus),

Ocote pine (Pinus oocarpa)

Oaks (Quercus acatenangensis, Q. conspersa, Q. peduncularis).

Passalid beetles (Ogyges cakchiqueli and Ogyges tzutuhili)

Black-bellied salamander (Bolitoglossa franklini)

Yellow bellied Salamander (Bolitoglossa flaviventris)

Yellow-legged mushroom tongue salamander (Bolitoglossa flavimembris)

CHICABAL VOLCANO

It has an extension of 1,572 hectares and a maximum height of 9514 feet above sea level. The lagoon is located in the crater of the volcano which is considered sacred by the local inhabitants of the ethnic origin of Maya, Mam. It is surrounded by a cloud forest, which homes a great variety of epiphytes, such as orchids and bromeliads.

This impressive landscape serves as the setting for the ceremony of the Rain Greeter, which takes place 40 days after Easter.

This area is very important for the Mayas; as there are 26 altars in the area; mostly located around the lagoon.

Some interesting species:

Aliso (Alnus arguta),

Cypress (Cupressus lusitánica),

Canoj (Nectandra sp.),

Juniper Berry (Citharexylum caudatum)

Mano de león (Oreopanax xalapensis).

Shining Leaf Chafer (Chrysina pehlkei)

Guatemalan Toad (Incilius bocourti)

Bocourt's arboreal alligator lizard (Abronia vasconcelosi).

White-breasted Hawk (Accipiter chionogaster),

Golden browed warbler (Basileuterus belli belli)

Pink headed warbler (Ergaticus versicolor)

UNICORNIO AZUL

It has high levels of biodiversity and is located inside one of the most interesting habitats of the country. It is a rural inn with traditional architecture and cosy rooms for visitors, located at 9842 feet above sea level, in the wild and peculiar landscapes of the Cuchumatanes summit. In the colder months, the plain dawns with frost, while from its private viewpoint, guests can discover the western volcanic chain.

Being also a center of equestrian tourism, its specialty is tours from one to several hours of horse rides (for all public) to expeditions on horseback for several days (for riders), a privileged way to discover this still remote and isolated region.


Some interesting species:

Ayacahuite pine (Pinus ayacahuite),

Guatemalan fir (Abies guatemalensis),

Huito juniper (Juniperus standleyi)

Cheta Montane pitviper (Cerrophidion godmani).

Fulvous owl (Strix fulvescens),

Goldmans Warbler / Yellow-rumped warbler (Dendroica coronata goldmani)

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