|Coban, Biotopo, Lanquin
photos by Lois and Don Porter
On Sunday, February 2, we set out at 4am on a two-day excursion to the Baja and Alta Verapaz area in central Guatemala. Lois and I were accompanied by Lois’s sister Doris and her husband Lee – inveterate travelers and accomplished photographers – and by José Feliciano Pirir, our guide and driver. At 7:45am we arrived at “El Ranchito”, a somewhat run-down little inn a few meters down the road from the entrance to the Biotopo (intended as a quetzal reserve, but apparently devoid of quetzals). We had received the excellent guidance from Daniel, our landlord, that quetzals can be seen in the trees around El Ranchito early in the morning, since the birds like the seeds of the trees that grow there. The first photo in the El Ranchito series shows what the place looks like: we saw the quetzals in those trees behind the buildings. That van was our transportation for the 19 hours we spent on the road in two days! We got some good looks at quetzals – especially one that buzzed right by Lois’s head. Conditions were not great for photographing them, and none of us had really good bird photography gear with us; but we got enough bad photos (including the ElRanchito03 shot) to prove that we saw them! We then went for a walk in the Biotopo: the cloud forest is really spectacularly beautiful. At around 11am, we were back in the car headed for Cobán (an hour) and then on to Lanquin (2 and a half more hours over a really horrible unpaved road). By the time we reached the caves at 4 PM, we were pretty beat and unhappy. The caves were wonderful, surprisingly warm, and we were the only people there. By 10 to 5 we were back in the van (a can of bolts) headed to the hotel (El Recreo), located a stone’s throw from the caves. Our rooms were spacious and lovely. We had showers and drinks and a nice dinner and went to bed early.
On Monday morning, we were on our way at 6am. Our efforts were rewarded with a marvelous early morning visit to Semuc Champay. It is a magical place – it certainly deserves a separate page in the photo album.
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