Guatemala's impressive Maya Biosphere Reserve. Photo © Al Argueta.

Guatemala’s Biosphere Reserves

Guatemala has more than 90 protected areas encompassing about 28 percent of the country’s total land area. Among the different types of protected areas are biosphere reserves, national parks, biotopes, natural monuments, wildlife refuges, and private nature reserves. Several of these are encompassed within larger areas, as is the case with the national parks and biotopes making up the larger Maya Biosphere Reserve.

Trinidad Memorial Lighthouse. Photo © Jbatt/Dreamstime.

Where to Go in Northern California

If you can’t decide between the beach or the mountains, city nightlife or quaint historical towns, and sleeping in luxury or roughing it, then Northern California is your ultimate destination. Here you’ll find a breakdown of each distinct region in the area, highlighting their major draws and general personalities.

Punta Piñuela in Ballena Marine National Park. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Costa Rica’s Ballena Marine National Park

Parque Nacional Marino Ballena protects the shoreline of Bahía de Coronado and the waters surrounding Isla Ballena. Wildlife and bird watching are rich here, but perhaps the most pleasant draw are the places to stay near the park, with beautiful bungalows and rustic cabins surrounded by acres of forest trails. After a day spent snorkeling, watching dolphins frolic, and exploring the park, you’ll be treated to incredible meals.

A small red eyed frog sits perched on a broad leaf.

Protecting Costa Rica’s Land

While much of Costa Rica has been stripped of its forests, the country has managed to protect a larger proportion of its land than any other country in the world. Today, one-third of land is legally set aside as national parks and forest reserves, “buffer zones,” wildlife refuges, and indigenous reserves. Throughout the country, representative sections of all the major habitats and ecosystems are protected.

Aerial view of Lake Amatitlán, on the fringes of Guatemala City. Photo © Al Argueta.

Things to Do at Lake Amatitlán

Lake Amatitlán is in the process of being rescued from what would have been certain ecological death caused by wastewater from nearby industry and uncontrolled urban growth. Though it’s still not possible to swim in the lake’s waters, the area around it is home to very affordable hot springs and spas, and a park with full facilities and picnic areas offering several outdoor activities.

Blue Ctenosaur in Santa Rosa National Park. Photo © Jorasm (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

What to See in Costa Rica’s Santa Rosa National Park

Founded in 1972, Santa Rosa National Park was Costa Rica’s first national park. The park–divided into two sections; the more important and accessible Santa Rosa Sector to the south and the Murciélago Sector further north–is a mosaic of 10 distinct habitats, including mangrove swamp, savanna, and oak forest, and is filled with hiking trails to explore and wildlife to watch. There are also great opportunities for scuba diving and surfing.

Paradise Cave is one of the few sights in the park that can be visited independently. Photo © Dana Filek-Gibson.

The Caves of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

A labyrinth of subterranean tunnels and jaw-dropping, otherworldly landscapes, Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park may be off the beaten path for now, but its anonymity is fading fast. Decked out in eerie, alien rock formations and spindly stalactites, these tunnels are estimated at around 3-5 million years old. Here you’ll find the world’s largest cave, home to a thunderous river, clouds, and an entire jungle ecosystem.

A howler monkey at the Community Baboon Sanctuary. Photo © Lebawit Lily Girma.

The Best Wildlife Spotting in the Belize Cayes

Filled with national parks and wildlife reserves, Belize home to an estimated 145 species of mammals, 139 species of reptiles, and at least 500 species of birds, many of which can be spotted along the cayes. An island vacation doesn’t mean missing out on any of the wildlife—here is what to look out for both inland and offshore.

Atop Tikal's Temple IV. Photo © Al Argueta.

Petén and the Maya Biosphere Reserve

Petén is without a doubt the cradle of Mayan civilization, as it lays claim to some of the oldest known Mayan sites along with the earliest evidence of the writing and royal dynastic rule characterizing the civilization that flourished here. The massive Maya Biosphere Reserve, established to protect the forests, ruins, and unexcavated sites, could keep you busy for weeks. However long your have for your visit, our expect author is here to help you effectively plan your time.

The Asian Golden Weaver. Photo © Kajornyot/123rf.

Planning a Visit to Tram Chim National Park

The stunning landscapes of Tram Chim National Park are awash with tall grass, flat, waterlogged land, and over 230 different aquatic birds. Visitors trace the watery avenues and flooded forests of this picturesque Delta scene by boat, spotting everything from an abundance of slender-necked storks to the vibrant yellow Asian golden weaver to towering sarus cranes.