Hiking Guatemala's Maya Biosphere Reserve

On the Trail of the Winged Rainbows
  |  Gorp.com
Trail Details

Accommodations: A variety of accommodations are included close to all three trails in the Maya Biosphere Reserve — from hotels and lodges to hostels and camping.

Camping facilities: Community camps are more comfortable than your standard campsite. Your Peten guides will set up hammocks under a palapa (thatched roof shelter). Hammocks and mosquito nets are provided.

La Casona de la Isla, Flores: Rooms are clean, insect-free, and equipped with private bath with hot water. There is also a swimming pool.

Jungle Lodge, Tikal National Park: First-class hotel set within the jungles of the Peten. Just a short walk from the ruins, the Jungle Lodge provided the opportunity for viewing sunsets and sunrises over the majestic Maya temples.

Hostal de Dona Victoria, Coban: Newly restored 400-year-old mansion with cozy beds, private bath, Spanish pub, restaurant, and laundry. Relax in the garden patio or on the hammocks. This is ideal for exploring other sites like silver shops, the famous Dieseldorff coffee roastery, the local market, and the orchid nursery that houses some 270 varieties of orchids.

Hotel el Recreo, Lanquin: This is a basic but satisfactory accommodation with ranch-style wooden main building. It's comfortable and the duck ponds are a great place to sit and write!

Candelaria Eco-Lodge, Candelaria: Traditional-style living greets you here with thatched roofs, wooden structures that provide the feel for a true jungle getaway. Meals are included in the lodge price.

Food: During your stay in Flores, local restaurants provide a wide variety of traditional cuisines. While on the trails, guides prepare delicious meals common to the Peten region.

Reservations: To reserve a place on one of the tours, please contact: Flores, Peten, Guatemala: (+1) 502-9261363; Fax: (+1) 502-9263322. In the U.S., (202) 973-2264 or (800) 429-5660 ext. 264


Once host to a palette of red, blue, yellow, and green, the jungle of the Peten has seen a decline of the colorful Scarlet Macaw in the last few years. Although trade of this precious bird is forbidden in many countries, its value in other foreign markets stands to threaten the extinction of the bird.

ProPeten and the rural communities within the Peten introduced the Scarlet Macaw Trail as an ecologically sensitive trip that would strategically generate alternative sources of income for the local populations and ultimately deter the illegal poaching of the birds.

The trails have lived up to its eco-prefix. People visit the area specifically to catch a glimpse of the flying rainbows and as a result of this tourism, a consciousness for the preservation of the bird within the local and international community has been successful in deterring poachers from their illegal and devastating activities. As an ecotourism attraction, the bird's value becomes redefined.

Among the highlights of the trail are the rural Peten communities of Centro Campesino and El Cruce Dos Aguadas, the crossing of the agricultural frontier, travel by boat along the San Pedro River, and the well hidden archaeological site of El Peru. The trail leads trekkers through varying tropical ecosystems including agricultural fields, wetlands, rivers, primary forests, and areas ravaged by fire. Sightings of howler and spider monkeys, crocodiles, tapirs, jaguars, and of course, the scarlet macaw are not uncommon.

The three day trek begins at the small agricultural community of Paso Dos Cavallos, about 70-km northeast of Flores, the Peten's capital. This is where Conservation International and the local community, consisting of about 63 families, have joined forces to prepare the village for tourism.

A small, rural community such as Paso Dos Cavallos greatly benefits from the revenue brought in by tourists, and in exchange the visitors get a rare opportunity to glimpse into the everyday lives of the people of rural Guatemala.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 4 Dec 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »