Naachtun–Dos Lagunas Biotope
The Naachtun–Dos Lagunas Biotope is managed by Guatemala’s University of San Carlos Center for Conservation Studies (CECON) and was established for the protection of white-tailed deer. The biotope forms a corridor connecting the area around El Mirador to that surrounding Río Azul within the larger Mirador–Río Azul National Park. It also protects the Mayan ruins of Naachtun.
Naachtun lies 25 kilometers east of El Mirador and about one kilometer from the Mexican border in a remote pocket of jungle. A Late Classic site, its architecture bears strong influence from Tikal and Calakmul, probably owing to its being caught in the tug-of-war between these two great rivals. At least 45 stelae have been found here.
The biotope is in fairly good shape because of its remote location and the absence of roads, with abundant wildlife, including many of Guatemala’s endangered species—jaguars and other jungle cats, such as margays and ocelots, brocket deer, crocodiles, river turtles, monkeys, tapirs, peregrine falcons, and mealy parrots. The plant diversity here and within the Mirador-Río Azul National Park is said to be the highest in the Maya Biosphere Reserve with a particularly high concentration of mahogany trees. Little has been done to promote tourism to the reserve and it remains a delightfully remote natural oasis off the beaten tourist trail.
Park facilities are rudimentary and only about 40 visitors make it here every year, mostly foreigners. The park rangers have an encampment on the shore of one of the lagoons and will allow you to stay and cook there. Basic shelters for setting up a tent or stringing up a hammock are available, as are showers.
Getting to Naachtun–Dos Lagunas Biotope
Access to the biotope is along the road connecting Uaxactún to Río Azul, a little more than halfway. The road is passable only in the dry season, and then only via 4WD. You can also hike or ride on horseback to the site from Uaxactún in about two days. Trips can be arranged through Campamento El Chiclero.
© Al Argueta from Moon Guatemala, 3rd Edition. Photos © Al Argueta www.alargueta.com