Hiking Guatemala's Maya Biosphere Reserve
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.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication