Monterrico Natural Reserve, as this area is called, has a total surface of 2,800 hectares and is located in the department of Santa Rosa. This area is limited by the Oliveros River, the Chiquimulilla Canal, and the La Palmilla Laguneta, at a distance of 17 kilometers south from Taxisco and 125 kilometers from Guatemala city.

This territory was constituted as a reserve zone for the special protection of fauna, flora and natural ecosystem on December 16, 1977. In Guatemala, protected areas are places dedicated to the conservation of flora and fauna, including spaces for the protection of the natural environment, historical, archaeological and recreational sites.

The flora of this protected area is considered a wet forest, which is one of the most diverse ecosystems due to the number of plant species it harbors. The type of vegetation typical of this reserve is mainly made up of aquatic and floating plants.

Monterrico Natural Reserve has a system of channels and coastal lagoons that make up the Chiquimulilla channel. This is an ecosystem known as estuarine, since it has its own characteristics defined by the dynamics of the tides, with the mixture of salt water and fresh water. Within the Natural Reserve of Monterrico are located 5 villages called El Pumpo, La Avellana, La Curvina, Agua Dulce and Monterrico.

In this area, there are more than 110 resident and migratory bird species. In addition, this protected area has an important zone of the mangrove ecosystems of the Guatemalan Pacific because it shelters migratory animal species.

Monterrico Beach is also part of this reserve. In fact, it is one of the most important sites for nesting sea turtles and at the same time, it is habitat for a large number of animal species that inhabit the coast of the South Coast. There are many events where tourists, along with the local people, free the turtles into the sea.

But visit the swampy area is the best event one can think of: go well before dawn and enjoy the wildlife so close to the sandy beaches and hotel terraces and pools. This will give you insight into how nature is really fragile and how local people that live within boundaries of the reserve have to be careful and live with this ecosystem.

Lake Amatitlan | Guatexplorer

Once upon a time this lake, stretching on some 15.2 square kilometers (5.9 sq mi), was a place to be if you wanted to belong to the Guatemalan higher classes. It was the place to buy or construct a villa, to enjoy in swimming, fishing or simply to row your boat. That was a place to take the person you love, maybe even your wife!

Glory days (and the tourism started here as far as the year 1850) are nowadays far from Lake Atitlan, but still, there is that charm and splendor that still lives on its shores if you disregard that water is heavily polluted. Wastewaters that flow primarily in Villalobos River have killed the lake. There are nice houses, narrow villages and splendid viewpoints around the lake.

You can approach the lake in at least three ways. Traditional is a Pacific road that leaves the city along the Aguilar Batres avenue and continues to Villa Nueva. Then you must turn to the town of Amatitlan. Due to the usual heavy traffic, maybe you would prefer another way: pass on the Avenida Hincapie side of the Airport La Aurora, go straight and down to Boca del Monte and continue there to the town of Villa Canales. There you can use the road that goes around the lake. Here you can see the lovely sugar cane fields.

But, maybe the best way is to pass Boca del Monte, but then carefully look for a right turn onto the private highway called VAS. This scenic road will bring you to Pacific Highway just above Amatitlan town, precisely to the turn where you can visit Parque Naciones Unidas, and later get down for a fish lunch on the lake. Don't be afraid, fish is not from the lake.

Besides Naciones Unidas, a park where there are some very concrete and very fake Mayan pyramids, you can visit the Spa of Santa Teresita. In fact, there are several places that offer swimming pools, good food and an afternoon or morning of leisure. If you are into exploring, traveling around the lake will bring you under the Serbian/Russian Orthodox Church, an impressive white building that overlooks the lake. Among minor attractions are numerous stores where they sell traditional sweets and souvenirs.

Lake Amatitlan is a really nice lake, very scenic and large enough to give you an impression of visiting nature. If you combine it with a rest by the pool and gastronomy, you will get a very decent and cheap excursion, a lovely day out of Guatemalan metropolitan nightmare.

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