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Guatemala

Quetzal & Cloud Forest
Rescue Project

In 1989, a team of German biologists discovered that the Sierras of Guaxac, Caquipec, and Yalijux in Alta Verapaz contain the largest population of Quetzals per square kilometer in all of Guatemala and the world. Based on this study, German Biologist David Unger and a group of Guatemalan environmentalists founded Proyecto Ecológico Quetzal (PEQ) in 1990. PEQ is a Guatemalan not-for-profit private organization dedicated to the preservation and conservation of the cloud forest habitat of the Quetzal.

Proyecto Ecológico Quetzal is under the executive direction of Asociación Biósfera y Desarrollo Agricola Sostenible (BIDAS), a Guatemalan environmental nonprofit organization. Asociación BIDAS was established under Guatemalan law in November 1994 (Acuerdo Ministerial N0. 388).


Resplendant Quetzal

Major financial support for the Project comes from GEO tropical Rainforest of Hamburg, Germany. However, through ecotourism new and creative sources of funding for the project are being considered.

The Sierra de las Minas is the largest cloud forest reserve in Central America and the second largest biosphere reserve in Guatemala (143,000-acres), after the Maya Biosphere Reserve in the Peten region. It is currently managed by a non-governmental organization, Fundación Defensores de la Naturaleza (Nature’s Defenders Foundation) with the support of the National Council for Protected Areas . (CONAP).

Created in 1990, this reserve has also benefited from support of organizations such as Conservation International, World Wildlife Fund, Swedish Children's Rainforest, and several other non-profit organizations.

Their projects include biological research, biodiversity conservation, and community work with different ethnic groups living within the reserve, as well as ecotourism development.

Both the Caquipiec Mountain and the Sierra de las Minas projects involve work with the region’s residents in order to promote the sustainable use of natural resources, to identify sources of non-agricultural income and to raise awareness of the cloud forest’s value through environmental education programs in the village schools in the Sierras.

What is the Cloud Forest

The cloud forest is a type of forest located on the slopes of the highest mountains and has an annual precipitation between 2000 and 6000 mm. It serves as a large "sponge," in that it retains the water that later is distributed slowly to the surrounding areas by means of evaporation or in small streams. The Sierra de las Minas alone holds 63 natural springs!

Cloud forests serve as the habitat for many species of plants and animals, many of which are in danger of extinction. Of those, one may find: Bromeliads, orchids, tree ferns, quetzal birds, howler monkeys, wild boars, and jaguars. The existence of the forest protects the survival of these species.


Exploring Sierra de las Minas Biosphere Reserve

 

ABOUT THE FLORA AND THE FAUNA...



View from Peña del Angel look-out point

Here is a short list of some of the animals you will see in these Sierras... Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno) between January and September, Mountain trogon (Trogon mexicanus), highland Guan (Penelopina nigra)...

...Pink-headed warbler (Ergaticus versicolor), Garnet-throated hummingbird (Lamprolaima rhami), Emerald toucanet (Aulacorhynchus prasinus). We will hear the awesome call of howler monkeys (Alouatta palliata) and the sweet song of the Slate-colored solitaire (Myadestes unicolor).

We will have the privilege of being able to see the Resplendent Quetzal birds in their nests during the nesting season with the project's members. We will be very close, on top of camouflaged observation platforms... or at the foot of their nesting sites!

The Community of Los Albores
& Low Impact Ecological Tourism


Our company’s involvement for many years with these projects led to our NOT TAKING people there intentionally until very recently, in spite of the demand to take tours there…


Environmental Interpretation

Now, the communities and organizations are ready to welcome a limited number of visitors every year & count with the required infrastructure to assure the safeguarding of this beautiful & pristine habitat. The community of Los Albores is located on the South Eastern side of the Sierra de las Minas mountain range, at an altitude of approximately 2500 meters. About 70 families currently live in Los Albores. Traditionally, the people have been farmers for many years: coffee, cardamom, vegetables (tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini…) and fruits. With the support of Fundación Defensores de la Naturaleza (a Guatemalan NGO), they recently started an ecotourism project where the women offers tourism services to visitors. You will experience a exquisite and typical lunch in a local family’s home.

They are starting to promote their pine crafts as well.
As you climb up the mountain to Las Cabanas, where the Biological Research Station is located, you will go through different ecosystems: dry scrub, pine forest, pine-oak forest, and finally cloud forest. Each ecosystem is rich in biodiversity, especially in the transition zones. Hardier travelers may walk up from Los Albores to Las Cabanas, but most people will prefer to go by pick up or 4x4, which is quite an adventure…
During your visit you will sleep in comfortable cabins close to the Biological Station. Women from Los Albores will cook for you, and you will be able to go on guided trips to see the cloud forest and its wildlife with a host from the project and your professional guide. There are outings every day to see quetzal birds, water falls, and to a magnificent lookout point named the Peña del Angel… from which you may see several volcanoes and the Sierra Madre mountain range on a clear day. Perhaps you will get to see a jaguar, too!

If you are interested in knowing more about Proyecto Ecologico Quetzal and the Fundación Defensores de la Naturaleza and our cloudforest adventures please contact us at:

birding@ecotourism-adventure.com


 
 

© 1998- 2011 Ecotourism and Adventure Specialists

Ecotourism & Adventure Specialists is the leading cultural & natural tourism outfitter in the Maya World region operating tours in all of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize & Honduras since 1995 with the back up and experience only 30 years as professionals in the tourism industry can guarantee. Ecotourism & Adventure has begun its operations in South America as more and more of our travelers demand the same quality services they are used to for unique itineraries in Peru, Chile, Argentina and Ecuador.