- Places to Explore
- Travel Tips
- Fodor's Choice
- Spanish Phrases
Biotopo del Quetzal
Biotopo del Quetzal Review
A 2,849-acre tract of cloud forest along the road to Cobán, the Biotopo del Quetzal was created to protect its resplendent namesake species, which is endangered because of the indiscriminate destruction of the country's forests.
The reserve offers the chance to see the quetzal in its natural habitat during its mating season, between April and June. Oddly enough, the best place to see the birds is not in the park itself, but in the parking lot of the Ranchito del Quetzal, 1½ km (1 mi) north. Since it is easier to spot quetzals around dawn or dusk, it's worth spending a night in the area. Even if you don't catch a glimpse of the legendary bird, there are plenty of other species to spot—you're actually far more likely to see a brilliant emerald toucan than you are a quetzal.
Expect rain here year-round, or at least the Verapaces' famed, drizzly chipi-chipi. (March and April clock in as the least-wet months.) At altitudes ranging from 1,500 to 2,300 meters (4,900 to 7500 feet), temperatures here average 16°C (60°F). The resulting luxuriant greenery of the cloud forest is gorgeous in its own right. One of the last remaining cloud forests in Guatemala, the Biotopo del Quetzal is a vital source of water for the region's rivers. Moisture that evaporates from Lago Izabal settles here as fog, which provides sustenance for the towering old-growth trees. Plants like lichens, hepaticas, bromeliads, and orchids abound.
If you're lucky, you can see howler monkeys swinging above the two well-maintained trails, the 2-km (1-mi) Los Helechos (The Ferns) and the 4-km (2½-mi) Los Musgos (The Mosses). The latter takes a short detour past a series of beautiful waterfalls. Plan on 45 minutes to an hour for the shorter trail and about double that for the longer hike. Both trails cross a river with concrete bathing pools where you can swim if you don't mind the cold. An interpretive guide is available at the stand at the trailheads.
- Phone: no phone
- Cost: Q40
- Hours: Daily 7–4
- Location: Biotopo del Quetzal
Fodor's Trip Planning Ideas
- Fodor's 100 Hotel Awards: Check out the winners of 2013
- Weekend Getaways: Fodor's Recommends the Best Weekend Escapes in the US
- Great American Vacation: Find Your Next U.S. Trip with Fodor's
- 80 Degrees: Fodor's Helps You Find Your Best Beach Vacation Spots
- Best of Europe: Fodor's Picks the Best Places to Visit in Europe
My fiancee and I are planning our honeymoon. Read more
Hi, all -
A summer Guatemala visit was out for me this year due to happy, busy plans to reconnect with host families in Scotland (mine) and The Netherlands (son Isaac's) and a focus week in Cambridge fo Read more
Hello All! Read more
· News & Features
While an infinity-edge pool that glints under the sun is fabulous, nothing beats a private pool you need... Read more
After reading these five reasons to actually stop in Guatemala (think roasting marshmallows on a volcano,... Read more
Reading trip reports from other travelers can be an invaluable resource for planning your next vacation.... Read more