Bocas del Polochic Wildlife Refuge encompasses the Río Polochic delta and includes wetlands, flooded forests, and savannas harboring a wide range of resident and migratory bird species as well as Lake Izabal’s remaining manatee and crocodile populations. There are abundant populations of freshwater turtles and green iguanas. Larger mammals include tapir, howler monkeys, and three species of cats, including jaguars.
The park is managed by Defensores de la Naturaleza (office in El Estor at 5a Avenida and 2a Calle, tel. 7949-7237 or 7949-7130, www.defensores.org.gt ), which also manages the Sierra de Las Minas Biosphere Reserve  beginning just south of Bocas del Polochic and running west all the way to Baja Verapaz. Together, both parks account for about 80 percent of Guatemala’s biodiversity.
Their management by a private conservation group translates into more-than-adequate facilities for tourism and scientific investigation. They afford great opportunities to explore some of Guatemala’s most remote expanses with relative ease from a comfortable base.
If you want to explore either of these remote wilderness parks from here, call or stop by Defensores’s office in El Estor , one block from the park. Defensores runs the highly recommended Selempím Biological Station, near its namesake community and river midway between both parks, where there are comfortable accommodations in screened-in private wooden cabins or dorms ($15 per person), shared bathrooms with showers, a hammock lounge, research facilities, and solar power. Meals can be arranged through the local community ($3–5) or you can bring your own food and use the station’s cooking facilities ($2).
Guides ($7 per group) can take you around by canoe or kayak through various canals for wildlife-viewing or land-based explorations along two nature trails. One of these offers a fantastic lookout point from where you can see the river’s delta and fully appreciate the scale of the surrounding wilderness. Hidden in the pockmarked karst landscape of this rugged terrain are a number of sinkholes in addition to a cave near the biological station, where you can view some interesting stalactites and stalagmites.
To get to Bocas del Polochic Wildlife Refuge, your best option is to take one of the community-run boat transfer services ($8, 1.25 hours) leaving from El Estor at 11 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. The return trip leaves Selempím at 7 a.m. on the same days. Or you could hire a private boat transfer by inquiring in El Estor at Defensores’s office. The typical rate is about $100 round-trip. The folks at Hugo’s Restaurant or Hotel Vista del Lago might be able to hook you up with a local boatman for a little less. Admission to the park is $5.