A five-hour hike from San Rafael Chilascó  deep into the heart of the reserve brings you to the farming community of Albores, on the southeastern side of the mountain range. Defensores de la Naturaleza has built comfortable cabin ($30 per person) to house visitors at its biological research station nearby.
You can also stay in the community with a local family for $5 per person. There are about 70 families living in Albores, most of which have traditionally made a living from cultivating coffee, cardamom, and vegetables. Ecotourism is a relatively new source of income for these families and they welcome visitors with open arms. They can provide you with meals for about $5.
A park admission fee of $5 applies for exploring this part of the reserve. From Albores, there are two trails into the surrounding cloud forest. The first trail takes you to the magnificent Peña del Angel, an igneous rock formation at an altitude of 2,400 meters, from where you have an incredible view of the surrounding cloud forest and the Polochic and Motagua River Valleys. The rock gets its name from its appearance, like that of two extended angelic wings, thanks to the 1976 earthquake, which broke the rock in two. The second trail takes you to a lookout point built by Defensores to monitor forest fires, from which there are also fabulous views.
For visits to this part of the reserve, you should technically contact Defensores de la Naturaleza (tel. 7936-0566 or 7959-5341, sminas [at] defensores [dot] org [dot] gt or info [at] defensores [dot] org [dot] gt, www.defensores.org.gt ), though you may never hear back. A better option is to contact Ecotourism and Adventure Specialists (tel. 2337-0009 Guatemala, 415/762-3996 U.S., info [at] ecotourism-adventure [dot] com, www.ecotourism-adventure.com ). If you don’t mind making arrangements until you are in Guatemala, try planning a visit with the Chilascó Community Tourism Organization (tel. 5301-8928 or 5776-1683, elsaltodechilasco [at] yahoo [dot] es, www.chilasco.net.ms ).