The Motagua Valley. An Inspiring Place to Visit in Guatemala. A Must for Reptile Fans
The Motagua Valley is a desert between two mountain ranges in eastern Guatemala. Falling in the rain shadow of the Sierra de las Minas and the Sierra del Merendón, it is a distinct contrast to most other ecosystems in Guatemala. The habitat here is classed as dry thorn scrub, and receives only 50mm of rain a year. It is a desert amongst cloud forest.
I have been privileged to visit the Motagua Valley several times over the last five years. The presence of cacti and mesquite remind me in many ways of the deserts of Arizona, also a place close to my heart.
This island of desert is home to two endemic lizards, the Guatemalan beaded lizard (Heloderma charlesbogerti) and the Motagua Valley iguana (Ctenosaura palearis), as well as an odd mix of rattlesnakes, boa constrictors, green iguanas, black-tailed iguanas, and whiptails.
That mix of rainforest and desert scrub species makes the Motagua Valley an inspiring place to visit and a must for reptile fans.
One of the most enigmatic lizards in Guatemala, the Guatemalan beaded lizard, is endemic to the Motagua Valley. Just a few hundred adults survive in the wild. Being this close to one was an inspiring experience.
Indigo Archives: First Published 8 February 2016
Heloderma charlesbogerti, Motagua Valley, Guatemala
Dry thorn scrub Photos: Roland Daguerre