Estación Biológica Las Guacamayas

Wildlife Reserve in Parque Nacional Laguna del Tigre

A scientific research center within the Parque Nacional Laguna del Tigre, Scarlet Macaw Biological Station offers wildlife-watching/archaeology tours and the chance to tag along with researchers as they monitor macaws and butterflies. Overlooking the broad lazy river, it's a splendidly isolated spot and there is comfortable, ecofriendly accommodations in several thatched-roof houses.

One-day birding tours are devoted to spotting and photographing not just macaws but more than 300 other avian species found in and around the reserve, including red-capped manakin, red-legged honeycreeper and long-tailed hermit. Two- to three-day tours consist of some combination of a visit to the archaeological site of El Perú, 20 minutes west down the Río San Pedro, and nighttime observation of the endemic Morelet's crocodile, along with the chance to fish for the renowned pescado blanco (white fish).

The 15 rooms are semi-luxurious jungle affairs featuring bamboo-frame beds, mahogany furniture, screened picture windows and porches overlooking the river. A separate building contains the comedor (dining hall), where healthy meals are prepared. The rate per person on a two-day stay (with two persons) is around Q2400, including accommodation, meals and transport; for a three-day stay it's Q3330.

Volunteering is also possible, with the chance to contribute to infrastructure, maintain trails, cultivate the butterfly garden or support environmental education projects among the Q'eqchi' community in Paso Caballos. There's a minimum two-week commitment, and volunteers pay Q750 per week for accommodations, food and transport to the site.