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Quetzal Project

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Quetzal & Cloud Forest Rescue Project

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   In 1989, a team of German biologists discovered that the Sierras of Guaxac, Caquipec, and Yalijux in Alta Verapaz contain the largest population of Quetzals per square kilometer in all of Guatemala and the world. Based on this study, German Biologist David Unger and a group of Guatemalan environmentalists founded Proyecto Ecológico Quetzal (PEQ) in 1990. 

PEQ is a Guatemalan non-for-profit private organization dedicated to the preservation and conservation of the cloud forest habitat of the Quetzal. The Project involves work with the Q'eqchi residents of the region in order to promote the sustainable use of natural resources, identify sources of non-agricultural income and to raise awareness of the value of the cloud forest through environmental education programs in the village schools in the Sierras.

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Proyecto Ecológico Quetzal is under the executive direction of Asociación Biósfera y Desarrollo Agricola Sostenible (BIDAS), a Guatemalan environmental nonprofit organization. Asociación BIDAS was established under Guatemalan law in November 1994 (Acuerdo Ministerial N0. 388). Major financial support for the Project comes from GEO tropical Rainforest of Hamburg, Germany. However, through ecotourism new and creative sources of funding for the project are being considered.

What is the Cloud Forest?

     The cloud forest is a type of forest located on the slopes of the highest mountains and has an annual precipitation between 2000 and 6000 mm. It serves as a large "sponge," in that it retains the water that later is distributed slowly to the surrounding areas by means of evaporation or in small streams. The root system that the trees have, retains the soil and captures the water in the more pronounced roots.

     Cloud forests serve as the habitat for many species of plants and animals, many of which are in danger of extinction. Of those, one may find:  Bromeliads, orchids, tree ferns, quetzal birds, howler monkeys, wild boar, and jaguars. The existence of the forest protects the survival of these species.

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Here is a short list of some of the animals you will see in these Sierras... Quetzal, Pharomacrus mocinno (between January and September). Mountain trogon, Trogon mexicanus. Black penelopina or cojolita, Penelopina nigra.
Garnet throated hummingbird, Lamprolaima rhami. Emerald toucanet, Aulachorhynchus prasinus. We will hear the awesome call of howler monkeys, Alouatta palliata and the sweet song of the Slate colored solitaire, Myadestes unicolor.
We will have the privilege of being able to see Quetzal birds in their nests during the nesting season with the project's members. We will be very close, on top of camouflaged observation platforms...  

The Community of Chicacnab & Low Impact Ecological Tourism

     The community of Chicacnab is located on the mountain of Caquipec at an altitude of aproximately 2500 meters. Seventy-eight families currently live in Chicacnab and speak the Q’eqchi Maya language. Traditionally, the people have earned a subsistence living of corn and beans, although they have recently opened the first bakery in the area. In addition to a small store, the community has begun some small businesses for the production and sale of weavings, candles and wood carvings, and hosts a program of low impact ecological and cultural tourism.




    PEQ and the Tourism Committee of Chicacnab offer guided trips to see the cloud forest and its wildlife, and experience the Mayan Q’eqchi culture, in the community of Chicacnab, Alta Verapaz. During your visit to the forest, you will stay with a Q’eqchi family, eat the typical food, and a member of the familiy will introduce you to the family’s own private forest. There are excursions to caves, lagoons, and to a lookout point from which you can see the nearby cities of Cobán, Carchá, and Chamelco on a clear day.  Perhaps you will get to see a jaguar, too!

If you are interested in knowing more about Proyecto Ecologico Quetzal or about trips to the cloudforest please contact: quetzal@ecotourism-adventure.com


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