Nature Reserves in Guatemala:

The Quetzal Biotope (a.k.a. Mario Dary Rivera Nature Reserve)

The Quetzal Biotope, officially known as the Mario Dary Rivera Nature Reserve, is one of the most fascinating nature reserves in Guatemala, protecting 3,000 acres of cloud forest and many species of birds, butterflies, orchids and exotic flowers.

The Quetzal Biotope was established in 1977 to protect Guatemala's rapidly shrinking cloud forest and its inhabitants.

Since it's inception, the nature reserves has been under the administration of the San Carlos University, which has done a splendid job and made the Quetzal Biotope one of the country's top destinations for nature lovers and bird watchers.

Two well maintained trails are open to the public. Steep but easy to climb, they will lead you through the cloud forest, past ancient trees, fragrant ferns, creeks and cascading waterfalls. Many species of birds can be seen here, among others the quetzal, Guatemala's national bird, toucans, hummingbirds and owls.

Despite the name of the biotope, the quetzal is relatively hard to spot even there. The quetzal is a very shy and elusive bird and its green and red plumage blends perfectly with the surrounding forest. Nonetheless, the quetzal can be spotted occasionally in the early morning hours, particularly during breeding season in March and April.

But even if you don't see the quetzal, visiting the Quetzal Biotope is still an unforgettable experience. You'll walk right through exuberant vegetation and see ancient trees, magnificent orchids, ferns, mosses, flowering bromelias and many other plants that thrive only in the special environment of a tropical cloud forest.

The Quetzal Biotope's location right by the main road from Guatemala City to Coban, the capital of the Alta Verapaz department, makes it easily accessible by car or bus. In the visitor center at the entrance you can get lots of information about the cloud forest before you set out on one of the nature trails.

Tour packages including a visit to the Quetzal Biotope:

Coban, Alta Verapaz (3 days & 2 nights)
Visit Semuc Champey, the caves of Lanquin and the Quetzal Biotope.
Maya Guatemala (14 days)
The grand tour of Guatemala! Visit Antigua, Chichicastenango, Lake Atitlan, Tikal, Copan (Honduras), Livingston, Coban, and climb the Pacaya Volcano.
Maya Guatemala and "The Caribbean Experience" (21 days)
The grand tour of Guatemala plus seven relaxing days on our 46' Polynesian sailboat to the Belize Barrier Reef and Islands.
More tour packages ...