Biotopo del Quetzal
From the visitor center, two trails lead into the forest:xa0 the shorter Los Helechos trail is about 1.2 miles (2 kilometers), and the more challenging Los Musgos trail is about double the length and mostly uphill. Both trails pass gorgeous waterfalls where you take a refreshing swim. As you hike, keep your eyes open for rare orchids and quetzals—the magnificent birds have bright red chests, green fuzzy feathers on their heads, and long tail feathers. The reserve is best explored in conjunction with a multi-day excursion. Most tours leave from Antigua or Guatemala City and include visits to the alpine town of Cobán, Lanquin Caves, Rey Marcos Caves, and the limestone pools of Semuc Champey National Park.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Biotopo del Quetzal is an ideal spot for wildlife and nature lovers.
- The terrain is not suitable for wheelchair users.
- Be aware that quetzals are rarely seen, though look for aguacatillo trees, since the birds are known to feast on their avocado-like fruits.
- Bring a swimsuit to take a refreshing dip in the waterfall at the end of the trails.
- Remember sun protection, water, and snacks.
How to Get There
Biotopo del Quetzal is located just east of the village of Purulhà, approximately three hours north of Guatemala City or about four and a half hours from Antigua. Drive or take a public bus. Because of its remote placement, most visitors come as part of an organized tour.
When to Get There
The reserve is open year-round. Wildlife is most active in the early mornings and early evenings, however you will need good timing and a fair amount of good luck to spot the enigmatic quetzals as they are quite shy. Your best best for spotting them is to come between March and June and go to the reservoir where they like to nest and occasionally show themselves.
Nearby Semuc Champey
This national park near the Q'eqchi' Maya town of Lanquín is an absolutely stunning site. Against a dramatic and deep green jungle backdrop are six turquoise freshwater pools, a massive cave system with underground waterfalls and magnificent views. Many activities are on offer including swimming, waterfall climbing, river tubing, treks to El Mirador,xa0 and more.
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- Semuc Champey
- Lanquín Caves (Grutas de Lanquín)
- Mixco Viejo
- Relief Map (Mapa en Relieve)
- Plaza de la Constitución (Parque Central)
- Iglesia de Santo Domingo
- Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana)
- Popol Vuh Museum (Museo Popol Vuh)
- National Palace
- La Aurora Zoo (Zoólogico la Aurora)
- National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology (MUNAE)
- IRTRA Mundo Petapa
- Cerro de la Cruz (Hill of the Cross)
- Casa Santo Domingo (Monasterio de Santo Domingo)
- Las Capuchinas (Convento de Las Capuchinas)