Around El Estor


The Refugio Bocas del Polochic (Bocas del Polochic Wildlife Reserve) covers the delta of the Río Polochic, which provides most of Lago de Izabal's water. A visit here provides great bird-watching and howler monkey observation. The reserve supports more than 300 species of birds - the migration seasons, September to October and April to May, are reportedly fantastic - and many varieties of butterflies and fish. You may well see alligators and, if you're very lucky, glimpse a manatee. Café Portal (p255) can set up early-morning trips with local boatman Benjamín Castillo costing US$60 for two people plus US$13 for each extra person for hours. The reserve is managed by the Fundación Defensores de la Naturaleza (% 7949 7130; in Spanish; cnr 5a Av & 2a Calle, El Estor), whose research station, the Estación Científica Selempim, just south of the Bocas del Polochic reserve, in the Reserva de Biosfera Sierra de las Minas, is open for eco-touristic visits. Contact Defensores' El Estor office for bookings and further information: ask for Luis Pérez, who speaks English. You can get to the station on a local lancha service leaving El Estor at 11am Monday, Wednesday and Saturday (US$7 round-trip, hours each way) or by special hire (US$65 to US$90 for a boatload of up to 12 people), and stay in attractive wood-and-thatch cabanas (per person US$7) or camp (US$4 per person). Meals are available for US$3.50 each or you can use the Estación Científica's kitchen. To explore the reserves you can use canoes free of charge, take boat trips (US$20 to US$32) or walk any of the three well-established trails.

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