Quetzal Biotope, a Natural Wonder in the Process of Conservation 

It is located in Sierra de las Minas, Baja Verapaz, and was established on June 2, 1976.

by Pamela Contreras
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Guatemala City, by Jenny Herrera -AGN-. The Quetzal Biotope, in the Sierra de las Minas, Baja Verapaz, is one of Guatemala’s natural wonders, and several institutions are joining forces to conserve it.

It is designed to protect spaces for the recreation and reproduction of the national bird, the quetzal. The quetzal, the Guatemalan symbol bird, lives in cloud forests, so the preservation of the flora and fauna of the area is the best starting point.

Protection

The National Council of Protected Areas -CONAP-, the Nature Protection Division of the National Civil Police -Diprona-, and the Guatemalan Army work together to protect the Quetzal Biotope. These efforts also include the actions of the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala.

The guardians of this area conduct daily tours, and the Quetzal Biotope staff is in charge of verifying that everything remains secure.

Mayra Oliva, the coordinator of the Quetzal Biotope, one of the guardians, said about her task: “It is a challenge to keep and safeguard the richness and biodiversity of the protected area. We have taken actions to conserve the national bird.”

Admission

The Quetzal Biotope opens from Monday to Sunday from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The admission fee for Guatemalans is 2.55 dollars per person, while for foreigners, it is 5 dollars.

The reserve has several activities for visitors to come to this protected area and contribute to the preservation of these spaces with their entrance fee. Some of the activities available are:

  • Two trails with ferns and mosses, marked and signposted.
  • Bird watching, including quetzal birds. 
  • Connecting with the flora and fauna
  • Experience waterfalls

In addition, there is a guided tour for sighting birds and the quetzal: a short trail at 25 dollars per group, and a long trail at 31 dollars per group. The offices are available at (502) 4123 5167 for further information.

Project 

Currently, the authorities are working on a project to cultivate a variety of aguacatillo, one of the bird’s favorite foods, for the quetzal development.

In addition, ten different species of food for the quetzal will be monitored, and environmental education will be provided to students and leaders of the communities surrounding the biotope.

Interesting facts

  • The reserve covers about 2,903 acres.
  • It is a subtropical, humid, and cloudy forest.
  • Its altitude is between 1,500 and 3,000 meters above sea level.
  • The Quetzal Biotope has 87 types of birds, among which the quetzal predominates.
  • It has two trails: one of ferns, with an extension of 1,800 meters, and the moss trail, with 3,600 meters.
  • The recommended hours to see the birds are 6:00 to 10:30 and 17:00 to 18:30.

Background 

The Quetzal Biotope was founded in 1976 by Mario Dary Rivera through a donation of land from the Municipality of Salamá to the University of San Carlos de Guatemala. Initially, it only measured 1890 acres, but it expanded to 2,903 acres as time passed.

Dary designed the infrastructure, including the offices, and created a sanctuary for the symbol bird, the quetzal, to preserve its natural habitat.

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