Friday, September 2, 2016

Reserva Natural Atitlan With My Sister (And Bert)

I'd been hesitant to go to the Reserva Natural Atitlan because I felt the Q65 entry fee was a bit too steep. But I am so glad we decided to go! It truly is worth the money. We called Victor tuk-tuk #88 to take us out and called him again when we were ready to come back. It's a bit outside of Panajachel, so the tuk-tuk price is Q10 per person each way.

Suzanne and I brought Bert along to be our sherpa. He had to carry the backpack with all the water!

Big sign at the entrance to the park. Notice the two at the bottom.
Gorgeous stained class.
Hiking in the dark and mysterious jungle of Guatemala!
I love this leaf!
There were many cascades and waterfalls in the park.
Not far up the trail was the observation area for the spider monkeys and coatis. I was a bit sad to see there was a fence but happy to see that they exist at all here. From what I've heard, the monkeys and coatis used to be everywhere here but people would kill them to eat them so they almost disappeared. Plus their preferred habitat is being destroyed due to human activity, PLUS the monkeys are often sold illegally as pets. The only other monkey I've seen at the lake was at Hotel Atitlan last year when my sisters visited before. Interestingly, Hotel Atitlan is not far from the nature reserve. I am happy to see that the reserve is helping these monkeys and allowing them to roam freely on the hills near Panajachel.
Spider monkey! The type of monkeys at Lake Atitlan are called Geoffrey's or Black-Handed Spider Monkeys.
Coati. Can you see him? Here's a reference picture. The type here in Guatemala (and even the southern United States) is called the White-Nosed Coati.
Spider monkey in a tree! There was lots of tree shaking going on but we only saw a few monkeys.
Suzanne and I pretending to be scared on the hanging bridges. They were fun!
Bert, our sherpa. He said this was the best thing we've done since we got here.
Max six Guatemalan people, not white people! HA!
See Bert on the bridge? Short 20-second video on my YouTube Channel!
Plants upon plants. The tree is covered in a class of plants called epiphytes that don't need soil to grow. Their seeds float through the air and just grow wherever they land!
I got a kick out of this plant that had "leaves crimped like it was the 80s." Ha!
Oh, it was a good hike! Luckily, not too many biting bugs. Pretty steep and treacherous in some parts.
Go to the bathroom before going ziplining!
My sister was surprised to see the Rotary Club symbol. Also, since when is an outhouse called an Eco Bathroom?
We really felt like jungle explorers!
(High fives and headbutts to the first people who actually explored this area. Crazy thick jungle and steep cliffs!)
Selfie time!
Can you see the zip line? Do you wanna go?
There were a bunch of people doing some team-building exercise or something!
The story about the raccoon.
He heard us and came out to see. Honestly, we were surprised it was a normal raccoon. Kinda expecting to see something weird.
Bert gave him a cookie!
The butterfly dome.
There were many beautiful butterflies in the dome. However, I think there were only maybe two kinds that I hadn't seen already out in the real world. :)
I love these orange ones!
The Salon of Metamorphosis! More great stained glass.
Many cocoons and butterflies hatching. 
They had little glass boxes of plants with caterpillars and/or cocoons on them. There was a guide there but we didn't know enough Spanish to actually talk to him. He would just silently open the glass door and lift a leaf to show us what was there!
Two little butterflies on my right foot! One on my second toe and the other on the black strap just below my big toe. Isn't it supposed to be lucky when butterflies land on you? I'm double lucky!
Final review: the Reserva Natural Atitlan is worth the money and the tuk-tuk ride! We were told the rainy season is actually better for fuller waterfalls and more butterflies. There weren't too many people there to crowd the trails, but we did go early in the day. It wasn't that hot because we were in the shady jungle canopy most of the time. The lower trails, monkeys, and butterfly dome are easily accessible and safe for children. The elderly or disabled will have trouble with the stairs. The longer trails are treacherous. There are no railings and you could easily slip and fall off the mountain!

We didn't see the beach or the far upper trail. We also didn't zipline but I have it on good authority that it is super fun! Go for a visit and tell me what you thought!

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