Declared a protected area in 1997, Refugio de Vida Silvestre Bocas del Polochic is home to more than 250 species of birds, including blue herons, kingfishers, and snowy egrets. If you're lucky, you'll spot the blue-throated motmot. On the western end of Lago Izabal, the country's largest wetland encompasses more than 51,000 acres. The Fundación Defensores de la Naturaleza (Defenders of Nature Foundation) manages the private reserve. From the office in El Estor you can
arrange a guided boat trip to the reserve and a visit to the Q'eqchí village of Selempín, with meals prepared by local women. The foundation also runs a remote ecolodge at the base of the Sierra de las Minas. The thatch-roof lodge has rooms with bunk beds and a full kitchen. A midnight thunderstorm is magical, but regardless of the weather you'll hear the roar of howler monkeys well into the evening.
Defensores de la Naturaleza, 10 km (6 mi) south of El Estor, El Estor, 18003, Guatemala