August 20, 2011

Salto de Chilasco, a hidden treasure

Having a 3 day weekend at the end of July, I took the opportunity to travel and discover an hidden natural treasure of Guatemala: the Salto de Chilasco.

Know as the highest waterfall of Central America with its 133 meters high, the Salto de Chilasco is located in the Reserva Biosfera Sierra de Las Minas, two hours and a half south of Coban (Baja Verapaz)

We rented a car with my friend Lucy and headed to Ram Tzu, an ecological hotel situated close to the Biotopo Del Quetzal, on the road to Coban (km 158). From Guatemala City, it takes around 3 hours drive via El Rancho.

The hotel has 16 beautiful cabanas made in wood and a restaurant made in bamboo.  They have a private natural reserve with horses, a waterfall, an orquidea farm and coffee plantation you can discover by feet. As it was raining during most of our stay we didn't have the opportunity to see it.

On the Sunday we woke up at the sound of the birds. It's much nice than the sound of the Chicken bus which wake me up every morning in Antigua. The rain stopped us to head early to the Salto of Chilasco. But by 11 am the rain had stopped and we decided to take the chance. From Ram Tzu, you have to head south for half an hour than take a left turn on a dusty road in a bad condition. 12 km which took us an hour as we didn't have a 4x4 car. 

We arrived at a small tourism office where we received information about the hike and where to go to start the hike. We paid 30 Quetzales ($4) per person for the entrance fees and we hired a teenager for 30 Quetzales to help carrying the bag as I was with my son Logan. if you need a guide (which is not necessary but is better so not to get lost) you would have to pay the same price. 

As it had rained a lot before our arrival, the first part of the hike had some very muddy and slippery part where it was a bit difficult while carrying Logan. Then it was quite flat until we arrived at the top of the waterfalls. You can hear the sound before you see it appearing through the mist. I have seen many biggest waterfalls as Niaguara falls so off course this waterfall is not that impressive but it's beautiful and the surroundings are unique. The waterfall is located in the rainy forest so all is green and the vegetation is abundant

From the top of the waterfalls the track brings you down to its foot. They arranged well the path so it's easy to go down. If you don't want to go all the way (like us) you can go to the second view point where you can see the whole waterfall and take nice shots. By the time we arrived at the 2nd mirador it was getting late and we had to go back to the car before the night. So we decided against going all the way down and after a snack (a and a bottle of milk for Logan) we headed back. We started the hike at 12 pm and didn't bring any picnic, only a few bars of cereals, so when we get back to the car we were starving! It took us 4 hours in total, walking at a normal space and with a baby. We were all muddy and tired but happy to have seen this hidden treasure not touch yet by massive tourism. 

The Salto of Chilasco is not visited by a lot of tourists and hardly any guidebooks talk about it. This is a pitty for the community who would love to have more income from the tourism. But this is good for the nature as it stays almost untouched and you don't see garbage along the path like everywhere. The location helps to keep massive tourism away and only adventurous travelers will make the effort to visit it and will feel so bless to had the opportunity to visit such a unique place. 

Our room for the night

View from our room

The restaurant all in bambu

Going down to the waterfall

First view of the waterfall

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