Farther north along the road from Hostales del IRTRA  heading to Quetzaltenango , in the area known as Las Palmas, lies Reserva Patrocinio (tel. 7771-4393 or 5203-5701, www.reservapatrocinio.com ), an agro-ecological tourism destination. So-called “agro tourism” is an increasingly popular form of recreation in Guatemala and encompasses natural areas adjacent to farms.
The main attraction at El Patrocinio is bird-watching in and around its 25-hectare forest reserve. Other areas are dedicated to the cultivation of coffee, cacao, macadamia nuts, and exotic flowers, among others, which visitors are free to check out.
There are three rooms in a comfortable, well-equipped farmhouse, each renting for $60 d with shared bath. The house has a kitchen and there is a separate and very pleasant open-sided dining room that fronts the coffee fields; meals can be prepared for you with advance notice.
The farm itself is on the slopes of Santiaguito Volcano and has outstanding views of its smoldering cone. It’s a great place to get away from it all. For the best views of the surrounding coffee fields, mountains, and volcanoes, climb atop the platform near the farmhouse.
You can call the owner, Mario Aguilar, for a pickup ($12) or for directions from the Cuatro Caminos crossroads just outside of Retalhuleu ; from there it’s another 14 kilometers to the farm. Birding packages can be arranged by booking in advance directly through Reserva Patrocinio or through Cayaya Birding (tel. 5308-5160, www.cayaya-birding.com ).