Guatemala Nature Tour

reptile and amphibian trip of a lifetime - herpers paradise!

6 Sept – 18 Sept 2019. £POA exc.flights

Sea turtle extension 18 – 20 Sept 2019.

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Travelling through cloud forests, arid thorn scrub and volcanos to find the most rare and endangered species in the country.

Join us on this 13 day experience of Guatemalan amphibians and reptiles. We will travel through cloud forests, arid thorn scrub and volcanos to find the most rare and endangered species in the country.

Our nature tours are designed for wildlife enthusiasts who wish to explore the less travelled road. They offer you the opportunity to visit projects at the leading edge of conservation.

Each location has been carefully selected based on the unique community of wildlife found there, and you will experience many of the most diverse habitats in the world.

With an expert team to guide you through the your tour, and with unique access to remote locations, you will experience a different side to wildlife watching.

At Indigo Expeditions we are committed to providing experiences that are both inspirational and respectful to nature.

Rainforest hog nosed pitviper – Porthidium nasutum

Guatemala wildlife tour

Guatemalan Black tailed Iguana – Ctenosaura palearis

Yellow spotted night lizard – Lepidophyma flavimaculatum

Itinerary

Explore with Indigo and discover the diversity of Guatemala

Day 1: Arrival and hotel in Guatemala City (1 night, B)

Upon arrival at Guatemala’s Aurora International Airport (GUA) you will be met and taken to your hotel.

Day 2 to 4: Ranchitos del Quetzal, Baja Verapaz (3 nights B,L,D)

We will meet the group for breakfast in the hotel restaurant at 8.30am on the morning of Day 2.

At 10am we will leave the city by private bus and head up into the cloud forests of Baja Verapaz, arriving at Ranchitos del Quetzal in time for a late lunch.

The cloud forest here is within the Biotopo del Quetzal. It is home to many species of rare and endemic amphibians including 4 species spikethumb frog (Plectrohyla spp.), northern glass frog (Hyalinobatrachium fleischmanni). Reptiles that are found here include highland racer (Drymobius chloroticus), elegant coral snake (Micrurus elegans), Montane pitviper (Cerrophidion godmanii), and yellow-blotched palm pitviper (Bothriechis aurifer).

Of course this area is a haven for birds too, and highland guan, hummingbirds, and of course Guatemala’s national bird, the resplendent quetzal are regularly seen here.

Day 5 to 6: Reserva Natural Heloderma, Zacapa (2 nights B,L,D)

After breakfast on day 5 we will leave the cloud forest and drive down the mountains into the the arid tropical thorn scrub of the Motagua Valley. Listed as a threatened habitat by the IUCN, thorn scrub looks like something out of a wild west movie, full of cacti and stunted thorn bushes. We will visit the Reserva Natural Heloderma where we will have a chance to see their amazing iguana and beaded lizard conservation projects.

This region is home to Guatemalan black-tailed iguana (Ctenosaura palearis), Guatemalan beaded lizard (Heloderma charlesbogerti), Motagua robber frog (Craugastor inachus), common boa (Boa imperator), tiger ratsnake (Spilotes pullatus), Western hog-nosed viper (Porthidium orphryomegas), Central American coral snake (Micrurus nigrocinctus), and Central American rattlesnake (Crotalus simus).

Day 7 to 8: Sierra Caral, Izabal (2 nights B,L,D)

In the morning we will continue down the Motagua Valley to the remote Sierra Caral reserve in the Merendon mountains close to the border with Honduras. The conditions here are basic but the wildlife will more than make up for it. This reserve was created to protect an important watershed and the highly endemic amphibian populations found here, many of which are only known from the Merendons.

In this luscious cloud forest we are likely to find pygmy salamander (Bolitoglossa nympha), the giant Doflein’s salamander (Bolitoglossa dofleini), red-eyed mossy frog (Duellmanohyla soralia), yellow-spotted night lizard (Lepidophyma flavimaculatum), eyelash pitviper (Bothriechis schlegelii), Mexican jumping pitviper (Atropoides mexicanus), rainforest hog-nosed viper (Porthidium nastum) and the elusive Merendon palm-pitviper (Bothriechis thalassinus).

Day 9: Las Escobas (1 night B,L,D)

Today we drive to the rainforest of the Las Escobas reserve on the Caribbean Coast of Guatemala. The pristine waters of the river here from spectacular waterfalls and pools, perfect to relax in and soak up the forest vibes!

Las Escobas is also a haven for amphibians and reptiles including Central American worm salamander (Oedipina elongata), red-eyed treefrog (Agalychnis callidryas), casque-headed iguana (Laemanctus longipes), annulated treeboa (Corallus annulata), variable coral snake (Micrurus diastema), eyelash pitviper (Bothriechis schlegelii), and fer-de-lance (Bothrops asper).

Day 10: Las Escobas and Guatemala City (1 night B,L,D)

After a morning searching for amphibians and reptiles at Las Escobas we will take the short flight back to Guatemala City and we will we spend the night relax before our final destination.

Day 11 to 13: Lake Atitlán (3 nights B,L,D)

This morning we leave early by private bus and drive to Lake Atitlán. Surrounded by mountains and volcanos, this crater lake is one of the most beautiful sights in Guatemala.

We spend 3 nights here exploring the local habitats and towns. You will have the opportunity to visit local markets in Panajachel on the north bank of Atitlán.

There are a range of habitats to be explored that will reveal wonders such as the black-eyed treefrog (Agalychnis moreletii), several species of spikethumb frogs (Plectrohyla spp.), Bocourt’s arboreal alligator lizard (Abronia vasconcelosii), Guatemalan jumping pitviper (Atopoides occiduus), and Guatemalan palm-pitviper (Bothriechis bicolor).

Day 14: Return to Guatemala City (1 night B,L,D)

After a relaxed breakfast on the shore of Lake Atitlán we will take the drive through the mountains and back to Guatemala City. We will arrive in Guatemala City in the afternoon where you will have time to prepare for your flights home the following day.

Yellow blotched palm pitviper – Bothriechis aurifer

Hartwegs Spikethumb Frog – Plectrohyla hartwegi 

Guatemalan beaded lizard – Heloderma charlesbogerti

Central American rattlesnake – Crotalus simus

Waterfall at Escobas

Eyelash pitviper – Bothriechis schlegelli

Western hog nosed pitviper – Porthidium orphryomegas

Fer de lance – Bothrops asper

Guatemalan jumping pitviper – Atropoides occiduus

Extension

Community based sea turtle conservation project on the Pacific Coast

Day 14 to 16: Estación Biológica el Banco, Pacific Coast (2 nights B,L,D)

We will drive out of the mountains and past several volcanos on our way to the coastal plains in the south of Guatemala.

On the Pacific Coast we will find the Estación Biólogica el Banco, a biological station dedicated to sea turtle conservation.

We will spend the next three days visiting a community led sea turtle conservation project.

Three species of turtle are known to use the beaches of el banco, the most common of which is the olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea). Leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea) and greeen turtles (Chelonia mydas) are also occasionally seen. We may have the opportunity to see adult sea turtles nesting, as well as witnessing the spectacle of a hatchling release.

We will also visit the nearby mangrove and wetland reserve in search of migratory birds. If we are really lucky dolphins and even humpback whales might be spotted just off shore.

Day 16: Return to Guatemala City (B)

After an early breakfast we will return to Guatemala City’s Aurora International Airport in time for you to catch your flights home.

Olive ridley  – Lepidochelys olivacea

Olive ridley – Lepidochelys olivacea

Notes

BAJA VERAPAZ

In the heart of the Central Highlands lies the Biotopo del Quetzal, an area of pristine cloud forest dedicated to providing suitable habitat for Guatemala’s national bird, the resplendent quetzal. We find out about ongoing efforts to increase numbers of quetzal in the region. Quetzals are fruit eaters, so by planting native food trees it is hoped that their numbers will return to former glories.

In addition to quetzals, other species of interest here include Hartweg’s spikethumb frog (Plectrohyla hartwegi), elegant coral snake (Micrurus elegans), and yellow-blotched palm-pitviper (Bothriechis aurifer).

MOTAGUA VALLEY

The Motagua Valley is home to two very special lizards. The Guatemalan black-tailed iguana (Ctenosaura pelearis) and the Guatemalan beaded lizard (Heloderma charlesbogerti) are only found in the thorn-scrub forest of this region.

We will visit the inspiring project that is working to save these two endangered species. Radio-telemetry has opened our eyes to their secretive world and is helping to develop national conservation plans.

The work here has brought attention to the high biodiversity and conservation importance of the region.

MERENDON MOUNTAINS

Close to the border with Honduras, the Merendon Mountains are a haven for several endangered species of amphibians and reptiles that are found in the cloud forests here. We will be staying at a reserve that not only protects these species but also safeguards an important watershed that supplies local communities with water.

Species of particular interest here include red-eyed mossy frog (Duellmanohyla soralia), Dolfein’s climbing salamander (Bolitoglossa dofleini), and the Merendon palm-pitviper (Bothriechis thalissinus).

Discover Guatemala

Land of the Maya, Guatemala is a small and beautifully diverse country in Central America.  Over half of the inhabitants are of direct Mayan ancestry, the majority of which live in the highland regions of the country.

This rich culture is a reflection of Guatemala’s diverse landscapes and habitats, that range from volcanic mountain ranges to lowland rainforest, and coastal mangrove swamps to deserts. These diverse habitats are home to an amazing 1246 species of animals and 8682 species of plants.

One of Guatemala’s biggest exports is the famous coffee that is grown throughout the mountainous regions of the country. Another export, cacao often made into chocolate, was considered a sacred plant and was so important to the Mayans that at certain points in their history the beans were considered currency. References to hot chocolate date back to around 900AD from Mayan inscriptions.

Guatemala is not as well travelled as many of its Central American neighbours, such as Belize and Costa Rica. Being off the beaten track, it is ripe for exploration and discovery by the intrepid traveller.

Testimonials

I am really excited about out Guatemala Nature Tour. By working with one of the most established wildlife tour operators in Guatemala, we are able to take you to some of the best and exclusive locations.

This tour will highlight the uniqueness of Guatemala’s reptile and amphibian diversity. We will visit some remote habitats while also not compromising on comfort. This will be an adventure to be remembered!

Rowland Griffin

Director, Indigo Expeditions

I am delighted to be working with Rowland, Adela and the fantastic team at Indigo Expeditions.

Their conservation work in Guatemala is not only hugely important and valuable but also a massive inspiration to future generations.

If you want to get involved in conservation, the most important thing is to simply get started and what better place than with Indigo!

Paul Greig Smith

Director, Greig Smith Travels

explore with indigo