Reptile and amphibian surveying in the Central Highlands of Alta Verapaz
2018 Dates £1,440
Indigo Expeditions first made an exploratory expedition to the region of Alta Verapaz in 2014. In just three days, the field team recorded a total of 21 species of reptiles and amphibians. Five of these are listed as IUCN Critically Endangered.
Species that have been found so far include black-eyed treefrogs (Agalychnis moreletii), yellow-blotched palm pitvipers (Bothriechis aurifer), arboreal alligator lizards (Abronia spp), and glass frogs (Hyalinobatrachium fleischmanni)
The highlands of Central America are well known for their biological diversity, and the highlands of Guatemala are no exception. Whilst the Guatemalan Western highlands have received a lot of attention from biologists, the Central highlands of Alta Verapaz have not.
The spectacular mountain cloud forests near the town of Coban, in the department of Alta Verapaz, are home to numerous species of reptiles and amphibians, many of which are little known and found in very limited geographic ranges.
Our expeditions carry out surveying & monitoring research in a secluded valley a few kilometres east of Coban. This lower elevation makes this forest a high conservation priority as low cloud forest faces greater threats by human encroachment.
Day 1: Leave Guatemala City by private bus after breakfast. We will travel into the central highlands of Coban, Guatemala on a spectacular journey through luscious forest and cactus filled dry thorn scrub. The journey will take approximately six hours. We will arrive at our study site in time for a late lunch.
After lunch, we get settled in and we will spend the afternoon getting oriented with our surroundings. In the late afternoon and evening we will take our first forays into the forests close to camp and explore the nearby mountain stream.
Day 2 through 10: After a hearty breakfast the expedition will begin in earnest. We will be spending as much time as possible exploring the various habitats in the vicinity of our camp. As well as the mysterious cloud forest found at the highest elevations, we will be searching for reptiles and amphibians in pine oak forest, regenerating forest, and various agricultural lands. By doing this we will be able to create the initial species list for this locality as well as complement existing work that is focussing on the effects of agricultural practices on the bird assemblage in the area.
Target species include black-eyed treefrogs (Agalychnis moreletii), Muller’s mushroom-tongue salamander (Bolitoglossa mulleri), the aboreal alligator lizard Abronia fimbriata, and the pitvipers Bothriechis aurifer and Cerrophidion godmanni.
Day 11: After breakfast we leave the cloud forest by private bus and return to Guatemala City. We will arrive in time for a late lunch. In the evening we will have the chance to meet for a final meal before heading home the following day.
Where are we based?
What species are we likely to find?
The region is also home to a plethora of bird species including the magnificent resplendent quetzal, Guatemala’s national bird and currency namesake.
What is included in the cost?
- Transport between Guatemala City & research site
- Accommodation (10 nights) at research site
- All meals and non alcoholic drinks at research site
- All field training and supervision at research site
What is not included in the cost?
- International flights
- Accommodation, meals, drinks etc in Guatemala City
- Snacks and sundries
- Tips and gratuities
- Visas and ESTA’s (if travelling through the US)
- Travel & Medical Insurance (this is essential)
- Anything else not stated in the “What is included” section above
Any more questions?
How do I join an expedition?
Rob & Tara Cahill
Community Cloud Forest Conservation, Alta Verapaz
We consider it a privilege to host Indigo Expeditions in Rubel Chaim – Chicchen. Thank you for demonstrating your profound appreciation for nature and every living creature and the vast complexities of our interconnectedness.
We appreciate your professionalism and skilful handling of all the animals, with great care. We are impressed by your serious, patient and generous teaching of others, your wealth of knowledge, expertise and skill for working with and understanding reptiles and amphibians.
We feel safe and confident in the adamant safety and security practices and rules that you teach and enforce for the well-being of all – both people and animals. We are pleased to count you as our friends and part of our conservation team. You are welcome here!
The Community Cloud Forest Conservation expedition with Indigo Expeditions was another experience I will remember for years to come, just like my earlier expedition to Las Guacamayas. I came hoping to see plenty of new herps, and I wasn’t disappointed; so many fantastic species were found, including some critically endangered and scientifically significant ones that I felt very privileged to see.
There was also the opportunity to see some truly beautiful scenery in the Guatemalan highlands, from a variety of altitudes! As well as this, the expedition was very physically and mentally challenging and allowed me to learn a lot about my own capabilities. Rowland and the other assistant researchers were very supportive at the more difficult times, and wonderful to work with as a whole.Richard Southworth