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All about los tarrales

Los Tarrales Reserve is located near Atitlan volcano in southern Guatemala. The area protects pristine forest from the upper volcano slope at 3000 m (9800 ft) down to 700 m (2300 ft). Cloud forest occurs above 1800 m (5900 ft). Lower areas are covered by humid broadleaf forest, interspersed with coffee plantations. Mean annual rainfall is 3400 mm. The reserve protects a watershed which provides drinking water to several communities.

All of the electricity on Los Tarrales is provided via a hydroelectric turbine! We try to be as green and self-sustaining as possible!

Los Tarrales Reserve is an important area for conservation in Guatemala. It is home to several globally threatened and regional endemic bird species such as Horned and Highland Guan, Azure-rumped Tanager, and Pink-headed Warbler. Los Tarrales is part of the Atitlán Important Bird Area (IBA GT015), designated by BirdLife International.

Because hunting is not permitted in Los Tarrales since four generations, it is easy to see animals such as White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus), Agouti (Dasyprocta punctata), White-bellied Chachalaca (Ortalis leucogastra) and Crested Guan (Penelope purpurascens). Also signs of Puma (Puma concolor), droppings and scratches, are seen frequently. To see the cat requires some good luck.

The reserve is private and autosustainable, costs for its conservation are covered from income in the zone of multiple uses (coffee, ornamentals, and honey) and through providing tourism services.

Our tourism program has become an important support for the area. Several enthusiastic and knowledgeable local guides show the bird and wildlife to our visitors and explain the production of coffee and ornamental plants. 

Brief History

1874: Los Tarrales was established as coffee and sugar cane finca by Belgium Peter Latour. Later the area belonged to Saturnino Blend from Spain and then to the British company Gordan & Smith.

1940: Joseph Burge Sr. purchased Los Tarrales. He planted many fine wood trees such as Spanish Cedar (Cedrela odorata), and continued the coffee cultivation.

2001: Andy Burge, in 3rd generation responsible for Los Tarrales, submitted the area into the Guatemalan network of protected area. Los Tarrales was declared as Private Protected Area by CONAP (Consejo Nacional de Áreas Protegidas), the national authority of protected areas.

2002: Los Tarrales tourism program was initiated. Through the enthusiasm of the owners of Los Tarrales, of the local guides and tourism staff, Los Tarrales started the development to one of the premier destinations in Guatemala for international birdwatchers. Knut Eisermann and Claudia Avendaño of CAYAYA BIRDING and PROEVAL RAXMU Bird Monitoring Program collaborate since 2003 with Los Tarrales tourism program through teaching local birding guides, bird research, compiling the bird list, and publicity.

2007: BirdLife International designated 21 Important Bird Areas (IBA) in Guatemala, and Los Tarrales is part of IBA Atitlán (IBA GT015). An overview of Guatemalan IBAs is given in Eisermann, K. & C. Avendaño (2009) Guatemala. Pp. 235-242 In: C. Devenish, D. F. Diaz Fernández, R. P. Clay, I. Davidson & I. Y. Zabala (eds.) Important Bird Areas Americas, priority sites for biodiversity conservation. BirdLife Conservation Series 16. Birdlife International, Quito, Ecuador. Download PDF

2007: First Christmas Bird Count at Atitlán Volcano including Los Tarrales. This CBC has been conducted yearly since then.

since 2009: Los Tarrales is recommended as tourist destination in Rough Guide to Guatemala: "Los Tarrales ... the guides there really know their stuff and the lodge has an engaging old-world charm."

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