VERAPACES, NATURAL PARADISE
Verapaces, Natural Paradise
Las Verapaces is the region formed by the departments of Alta Verapaz and Baja Verapaz. Both departments have leafy millenary forests, with ecosystems typical of dry forest, thorny chaparral, cloud forests or rainforests, which serve as a refuge for a large fauna, such as the Quetzal and flora such as the White Nun, regional species in danger of extinction. Here we can contemplate more than 800 species of orchids.
The morphology and geography of the region makes it a destination for adventurous travelers, full of desire to venture into its vegetation, canoe or rappel in one of its rivers or lakes, contemplate the different waterfalls and relax in one of its natural pools. Outdoor recreation is guaranteed with ascents to mountains, pilgrimage through the Biotopo del Quetzal routes, rafting on the Cahabón river rapids, or exploring its extraordinary caves such as those of Lanquín or Candelaria.
Semuc Champey National Park
The Semuc Champey is located to the south of the Lanquín municipality and its name comes from the q’eqchi ‘-xmuq (hide), cham (hondo) and pek (stone) -, it can be interpreted as “Where the river is hidden”.
It is a natural limestone bridge that has a length of more than 300 meters through which flows the Cahabón River, which circulates underground when entering a cave.
In the park you can see seven stepped pools with a depth between one and three meters, located in a canyon where rocks are deposited from the Polochic valley, a feature of the pools is the turquoise green color of the water that change hue depending on the time of the year. The depth of the pools oscillate between 1 and 3 meters deep.
Due to the characteristics of the humid subtropical warm forest, we can appreciate in the park a great variety of fauna, where we find more than 100 species of birds, more than 34 species of mammals, 25 reptiles and amphibians and 10 species of birds. The flora is important since we can find around 120 species of trees and vines in the area.
In the park we can perform different activities such as hiking, crossing hanging bridges, swimming in the pools, camping and climbing the viewpoint that is 50 meters high to observe the pools and waterfalls.
Balneario Las Conchas
The amazing pools of turquoise coloration and the waterfalls of different dimensions formed by the Chiyú River, make Las Conchas a place of singular beauty.
The area gets its name from the words Q’eqchi ‘Se and Pemech, which are translated as “where there are shells”, because fossil remains of clams and snails have been found in the place.
The main attraction of the spa are the falls, where some visitors jump from the top to feel the adrenaline rush through their body, falling into the pools.
The Spa, is attractive for being an eco tourist destination, so we can perform different activities such as hiking, swimming in the pools, camping and family gatherings.
They are located in the municipality of Chahal, Alta Verapaz. Its name comes from the language q’eqchi’y means “in a row”, it is likely that this name is due to this series of caves are within three mountains that are continuous.
It is believed that there are about 25 grottos in the place, but currently only 5 can be visited that are open to the public, among them we can find a cave that has the name of “La Cueva del Tigre”, so called because it has the belief that previously lived this type of animals inside her.
In the caves the walk is practiced and due to its humid climate, it is important to hydrate properly to enjoy the 2 hours of walking, which involves knowing the area.
Laguna de Lachuá National Park
It is characterized by its unique scenic beauty, which combines the crystal clear waters of an immense circular lagoon with lush vegetation, characteristic of a tropical rainforest. The lake water has a sulfuric smell, which explains the origin of its name, “Lachuá” which is derived from the words Q’eqchi ‘”li chu ha'” whose meaning is “fetid water”.
Due to the isolation of the park and the minimum influx of visitors, you can experience in the area a special and unique experience with wildlife, since you can see great diversity of flora and fauna, terrestrial and aquatic. It is an ideal place for bird watching as we can find more than 300 species, as well as monkeys saraguate, jaguars, tapirs and crocodiles.
When walking the path you can access a viewpoint, where it is possible to appreciate impressive landscapes. The most spectacular sunsets are beautifully reflected in the stillness of the waters of the Laguna Lachuá for what is also known as “El espejo del cielo”.
Grutas de Lanquín National Park
It is one of the best known caverns in Guatemala. They form a magnificent network of galleries and vaults, which exhibit a good part of their enigmatic beauty. At the foot of the entrance there is a river called Lanquín, which after 12 kilometers runs into the Cahabón River.
When entering the caves it is possible to recognize animal figures formed by rocks, as well as being surprised by the colossal size of these caves. At first they are illuminated and have small rails to facilitate the path, however, as we enter the caves, exploration becomes more exciting as it is a challenge to mobilize. Some local guides have reached up to 3 kilometers inside the grotto but open to the public they are only 400 meters away.
In the park you can leave the caves by the entrance where the journey begins, however there are some adventurers who with the help of guides seek an alternative exit where you must climb to get out of the caves.
Private Nature Reserve Biotopin
It is located in Purulhá, Baja Verapaz, in the heart of a cloud forest, which by its location contributes directly to the connection with the Quetzal Biotope.
The visitor can enjoy observing a waterfall 8 meters high, hiking, tasting food representative of the place like the famous Kak’Ik or Chicken Broth, staying inside nature and the possibility of observing the Quetzal, the bird national of the country.
Black River or Chixoy River
In the department of Alta Verapaz, there is “Chixoy Hydroelectric Plant”, which has an artificial lake made by the reservoir of Río Negro.
In Río Negro, the visitor can appreciate how the Maya-Achí community has managed to transform the pain of the past into a positive attitude towards life. In 2007, the community of Río Negro built the “Riij Ib’ooy” Historical and Educational Center as a space for learning about the history and culture of the region. In it, visitors can learn about the past of the Black River. In addition, the center also shows the current life of the town, the joy of its people and its traditions.
To get to Río Negro, you must travel by boat from the hydroelectric plant to the community and once you have settled in the hotel or guest house it is possible to carry out different activities.
Located in Baja Verapaz is the highest natural water fall in Central America, with a height of 130 meters, which is part of the Sierra de las Minas Biosphere Reserve, with a cloud forest that makes it the perfect habitat for Our bird symbol El Quetzal and a great variety of flora and fauna.
The tour of the site you can go hiking and horseback riding, as well as swimming in the pools, where falls the waterfall.
Biotope of the Quetzal “Mario Dary Rivera”
The exuberant jungle preserved in the protected biotope “Mario Dary Rivera”, is undoubtedly the most attractive natural reason of the region. It consists of more than three thousand hectares of humid subtropical vegetation, where we can find more than 50 different types of trees including pines, oaks, eucalyptus, algae and aerial plants, hosting more than 87 species of birds.
Two interpretive trails, picnic areas, rest and parking have been adapted. The visitor center is a few meters from the main road and in its surroundings there are lodging facilities.
The Biotopo is an ideal destination for hiking, enjoy bird watching and connect with nature.
Located in the department of Baja Verapaz, it is inhabited mostly by the Achis.
This place is known for its agriculture, especially for its production of orange and the variety of ceramics offered as vases, plates and traditional masks.
In Rabinal you can appreciate culture, traditional dances and unique festivities, especially in the celebrity known as Rabinal Achí, which is a theatrical dance style work of pre-Hispanic origin, which has been declared Masterpiece of the Oral Tradition and Intangible Heritage of Humanity , which recounts the claim that the rabinales made to the K’iche ‘rulers for having destroyed their villages.