7 Breathtaking Rainforest Destinations to Explore in Guatemala
Did you know that the rainforest in Guatemala is one of the most important biomes in the country? Yes! At least 31% of the Guatemalan territory is rainforest.
What is the name of the rainforest in Guatemala? We call it la selva tropical.
Keep reading to discover 11 amazing Guatemalan rainforest sites to visit!
Top 7 Most Breathtaking Rainforests in Guatemala
Let’s learn about the best rainforests in Guatemala, where they are, what you can do there, and how to get there.
1. Chocon Machacas Protected Biotope (Biotopo protegido Chocón Machacas)
Located in Livingston, Izabal, 131 miles (211 km) of Guatemala City, el Biotopo Chocón Machacas (Chocon Machacas Biotope) is an animal life sanctuary rich in wildlife and plant life.
Chocon Machacas is home to 130 bird species; 31 types of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians; and 82 kinds of fish. It’s one of the largest rainforest areas in Guatemala.
The most important resident in this rainforest in Guatemala is the manatí (manatee), which is an endangered species, but has been protected here since 1981. The biotope also protects several types of aquatic flowers that manatee eat.
The entrance ticket costs US$6 (Q40) and enables you to explore the trails, observe the wildlife in its natural habitat, and take a swim in a specially designated area!
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2. Peten Itza Lake (Lago Petén Itza)
El lago Petén Itzá (Peten Itza Lake) is the second largest lake in Guatemala. It is located 288 miles (455 km) northeast of Guatemala City. The lake was once home to the Maya Itzá, and the three major towns nearby are Flores, San Benito, and San Andrés.
The Petén rainforest in Guatemala surrounding the lake is the perfect place to take a swim or a walk on your way to Tikal. Also, you can stay in one of many beautiful hotels in the area to enjoy more of the lake.
Consider hiring a tour guide to learn more about the rich culture and history of the place. Hotels in the area include this service or can help you to contact a tour agency.
3. Semuc Champey
Semuc Champey means donde el río se esconde—“where the river hides.” It’s a natural monument of outstanding value because of its rarity, aesthetic qualities, and cultural significance.
This breathtaking place is in the department of Alta Verapaz, near the town of Lanquín, 175 miles (283 km) from Guatemala City.
Semuc Champey is a natural bridge with several lagoons of different depths—the deepest being 13 ft (4 m). The Rio Cahabón currents pass below this amazing natural structure and flows to a 131 ft (40 m) waterfall.
This natural park has a rich variety of wildlife and plantlife to observe while swimming in the cristaline ponds or walking around the trails that take you to a mirador (lookout) high above the pools.
The price to enter Semuc Champey is US $6 (Q50). There are a few hotels and hostels in the area if you want to spend more than a day in this paradise.
4. Quetzal’s Biotope (El Biotopo del Quetzal)
The Biotopo del Quetzal (Quetzal’s Biotope) is in Purulha, in the department of Baja Verapaz, 96 miles (155 km) from Guatemala City.
This national park aims to protect the quetzal, Guatemala’s national bird, but it’s also home to many species of animals and plants. This rainforest in Guatemala contains 58 species of wildlife, like wild rabbits, squirrels, foxes, monkeys, and reptiles, as well as at least 87 types of birds, a variety of orchids, moss, bromeliads, epiphytic plants, and trees.
Its two trails are el sendero de los helechos (the fern trail) and el sendero de los musgos (the moss trail). Both trails take you through serpentine roads near waterfalls and give you the opportunity to observe the stunning wildlife and flora.
5. Tikal National Park (Parque Nacional Tikal)
Tikal, which means lugar de voces (place of voices), is the largest Mayan ruins site in the Americas. It features some of the most incredible archeological vestiges of the ancient Maya civilization. It is also part of the largest rainforest in Guatemala.
Tikal became a national park in 1955 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. While many monuments and structures have already been discovered, the site contains lots more buildings to unveil.
Tikal is 326 miles (525 km) from Guatemala City, and you can get there by car, bus, or plane. Locals recommend taking at least a few days to tour the whole park, so you can enjoy the magic this place offers. Visitors may walk along the trails, partake in a Mayan fire ceremony, go hiking, or even camp for the night.
6. Cenote el Cimarrón
Located in Nentón, Huehuetenango, 251 miles (404 km) from Guatemala City, this unusual geological formation is one of the most magical sites to visit in Guatemala.
This natural wonder is one of the most interesting formations in the country. While some people think it was a cenote thousands of years ago, experts theorize that el Cimarrón was formed thanks to the erosion caused by a subterranean river, which made the area collapse and formed the giant hole that it is today.
Because of the mysterious nature of this place, it is full of stories and legends that attract visitors. There is no entry fee, but you can pay to camp there and practice rappel.
7. Rio Dulce National Park (Parque nacional Rio Dulce)
Located in Izabal, Guatemala, 170 miles (275 km) from Guatemala City, is el parque nacional Rio Dulce (Rio Dulce National Park), protecting the area since 1955.
Rio Dulce translates to “sweet river” and the river mouth is the entrance to the Caribbean Ocean from Guatemala. The river is home to dozens of species of plants, birds, mammals, fish, and insects. Two of the most interesting animals that live here are manatees and crocodiles.
Travel in the river by boat or visit the Rio Dulce Bridge, the longest bridge in Guatemala. There are plenty of hotels in the area, and the reserve also offers places to camp or stay the night.
It’s helpful to hire a tour guide so you can visit the most important spots in the river, like El Castillo de San Felipe (San Felipe Castle), the National Reserve Chocon Maracas, and the fascinating communities of Livingston and El Estor.
Practice Spanish Before Your Rainforest Adventure
Learning Spanish will make your travels around all of Latin America both easier and more meaningful. It is incredible how when you speak Spanish, locals treat you with more confidence and familiarity thanks to the language barrier being broken. Also, learning Spanish helps you to improve your cognition and decision-making abilities, which is an important ability to have!
Why wait? Sign up for a free trial class today and begin your Spanish learning adventure to practice your fluency prior to your exciting journey to the rainforest in Guatemala!
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