Monday, June 14, 2010

Reserva Patrocinio: Let's Enjoy a Great One Day Tour!

Last week I was so anxious to restart the blog after our short break, that I skip the usual introduction to a new department. Well, after one week of traveling through Reu, which by the way is how locals call Retalhuleu, I am sure you might have an idea about this region, so I am just going to mention some details.
The name Retalhuleu comes from the K'iche voices Retal (sign), Hul (hole), and Uleu (earth), which translates as Sign on the Earth. The department is divided into 9 municipalities, and we already visited an area of Champerico when we went to the Manchon Guamuchal biological preserve, and San Francisco Zapotitlan, the municipality where the IRTRA parks and hotels complex is located.
Today, I want to guide you through Reserva Patrocinio, which even though it belongs to the department of Quetzaltenango, is easily accessible from Reu; actually from where we are right now, is only about 20 minutes. So please, join us today to discover another jewel of Guatemala's nature paradises.
This reserve covers an area of approximately 140 ha with a mosaic of different habitats, ranging in elevation from 750 to 850 meters above sea level. It is dedicated to the conservation of fragments of old growth broad-leaf forest, and to the restoration of the local natural habitat.
The conservation efforts as well as the school and medical clinic are sustained by the economical income generated by the agricultural crops (mainly coffee, cacao, rambutan, macadamia, and pacaya) and the tourism program.
Until now, 10 families live in the reserve whose members are involved not just in the tourism program as guides, room attendants, cooks and waiters, but also in the different tasks required for the agricultural project.
The Reserva Patrocinio is also a good site for easy bird watching. A network of trails and hanging bridges gives access to the forests and different plantations, where skilled birders can see more than 100 species on a good day during the migration season.
There is also an observation tower and feeding stations for fruit-eaters and hummingbirds, all of these are excellent spots to watch the birds. The list of recorded species in this place includes 185 species.
About 150 years ago, this area was covered with humid broad-leaf forest; unfortunately, human activity has shrunk the forest to fragments without biological corridors and that is why Scarlet Macaws and Red-throated Caracara, once common, are today extinct on the Guatemalan Pacific Slope.
Although these species did loose their appropriate habitat, the remaining forest fragments are important refuges for many other species.
This, among some others, is one of the reasons why I am convinced that the tourism industry and particularly sustainable tourism, may play a valuable role not just in the development of even the remotest communities, but also in the preservation of our natural richness.
To complement the wonderful nature experience, Reserva Patrocinio also offers wide trails for mountain biking and 4 cables for zip-lining where you can literally fly across the valley, over tropical vegetation and a coffee plantation.
And if all of the above is not enough, from the cafeteria at Reserva Patrocinio, which is only 9 kilometers away from the Santiaguito Volcano, we can admire impressive views of this amazing volcano. 
Did you enjoy our tour today?

2 comments:

  1. Good morning Erin. I would like to congratulate you for this amazing project of yours. I was also born in Guatemala, but as a young child I was raised in the U.S. Now with your blog I am able to learn and know more about my place of birth. Thank you.

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  2. Dear Fred:
    Thank you very much for your comment. It's been a while since my last post but anxious to get back and continue sharing about our beautiful country.
    In the meantime, enjoy the journey!
    Erin

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Thanks for your comments. I appreciate your feedback!