November 22, 2010

Biotopo Del Quetzal, a natural sanctuary

The humidity and greenness greet the tourists at the Biotopo Del Quetzal, where the breeze, the sound of waterfalls and streams become your eternal companions.

The uphill paths in zigzag require any visitor to stop frequently. Some for taking gulps of oxygen to allow them to continue the climb. Others, to look at the sky and the big trees that stand over their heads. The remote hope of seeing the flight of the green bird does not abandon the walkers, even if it is only an illusion.

Biotopo Mario Dary Rivera, or Biotopo Del Quetzal, as mostly known, is a destination for all travelers visiting the departments of Alta and Baja Verapaz. The park of 17 000 hectares, washed usually by the legendary chipi-chipi (persistent drizzle) is located at the Km 160.5 along the road to Coban, Alta Verapaz, although it belongs to the municipality of Purulhá, Baja Verapaz.

The breeze and humidity you can feel during the hike is not only due to the chipi-chipi. The many large and small waterfalls and abundant streams of pure water were created to protect the national bird. The rain is latent throughout the year in the area. However, there are a few minor variations. The months of March and April are when there is less rain, while from June to September is the most precipitation. Between October and January, constant heavy drizzle is taking over the place.

The land and welcome wet grass, and as you go up, the accompanying fog and the chirping of the birds become routine of the voyage. This environment is only interrupted when, in the distance, you hear the crash of water falling over the stones to give life to a waterfall.

The Biotopo is one of the few places in Guatemala where the national bird Quetzal is still living. However, this is just one of many inhabitants of this forest. The variety of plants, saturated with water droplets, are seen everywhere. Different forms of white, black or blond warbler, and lichens, mosses, orchids, bromeliads, algae and other plants can be viewed by the tourists.

They don’t escape the eyes of the visitors, the imposing trunks of eucalyptus, oak, cypress and pine, which rise into the sky, some taller than 40 meters high. These are just some of the 50 species of trees growing in the biotopo, which is administered by the University of San Carlos, USAC.
In the park have been identified at least 58 species of fauna, although it is difficult to observe all of them. You could see the squirrels, wild rabbits, foxes, monkeys zaraguates, poisonous snakes and salamanders, among others.

For anyone wanting to know the place there are two routes, depending on your available time and your physical condition. The smallest route, called Sendero, is a journey of two kilometers which can be done in about an hour. Meanwhile, the longest, called The Mosses, is four kilometers and can be completed in three hours. The first part of both paths is steadily going up.

However, the area which both routes are crossing is just one-twentieth of the entire area of the biotopo, the rest is known as "primitive area." This area conserves the forest in its most natural state.
In this virgin area is concentrated most of the fauna of the area. Howler monkeys, coatis, car mount, wildcats and pumas and jaguars,  said Demetrio Dubon one of the guards of the Biotopo.

How to get there :
  • By Car : From the capital, you have to take the Pan-American highway to the Atlantic (CA-9N) to kilometer 85, El Rancho, El Progreso. From this junction, take the national road No. 17 going to Coban, Alta Verapaz, and searching for the 160.5 kilometer. Here is the Biotopo.
  • By bus : From Guatemala City, take any bus going to Coban and ask the driver to stop at the Biotopo Del Quetzal. From Coban, take any bus going to Guatemala City and ask the driver to stop at the Biotopo.
When to go :
The park is open every day from 6 am till 4 pm. Entrance fees are $2.50.

1 comment:

Lucy Brown said...

This really is a beautiful place but the only quetzal I managed to see was a stuffed one!