Daytripper: Cool Trips. Close by.

Daytripper is XelaWho’s regular monthly series on day trips within easy reach of Xela. This month’s article is called: 10 Years Later, El Alprisco.

By Gregorio Torres

It was about ten years ago when my brother and I visited the city of Santa Cruz Del Quiché. We made our way up the mountain through one of the last well-preserved forests in the Western Highlands of Guatemala. I came by pick-up with my brother and his family. Rather than take the usual road from Quetzaltenango to Santa Cruz, he decided to take an alternative route through Totonicapán.

On the trip, I noticed gradual changes in the landscape, and suddenly we were passing through beautiful conifer woods. From the truck I could hardly see into those beautiful, dark woods and suddenly had the desire to one day to explore such a magical place with mossy trees and humid air. In a daydream I imagined there was a cautious little deer running to reach his mother via a hidden trail. I had no idea that ten years later I would revisit this place to breathe in its fresh air and see its emerald forests.

Ten years later, I went to the “El Aprisco” nature trail, situated on the hillside of the Los Altos Regional Park in the department of Totonicapán. There a preservation program was developed and is led by its coordinator who was educated in Costa Rica. In El Aprisco kids from elementary schools in the surrounding villages learn about the environment and biodiversity, and at the same time they discover more about themselves. First the kids watch a video presentation about the earth and nature, and then they take a 45-minute hike to have an up-close experience.

Totonicapán is one of the departments of Guatemala with a high indigenous population. Besides Spanish the Maya-K’iche’ language is spoken by about 90% of its population. During my own visit to El Aprisco I was able to ask questions such as: What color is the traditional dress of municipality of Santa María Chiquimula? When do the migratory birds come to Los Altos Regional Park? What is the current status of the endangered pinabete tree (Abies Guatemalensis)? Incidentally, the nickname for El Aprisco is “Temple of the pinabete.” And how does the sowing of Roman chamomile help indigenous woman have better incomes vs. just growing maize? I also attained a Certificate of Conservation from El Aprisco.

To have your own experience at El Aprisco, take the bus to Totonicapán from La Rotonda de la Marimba in Xela. After you reach Toto, ask for the bus to Paraje Chuipachec located at km 5.5 on the route to Santa Cruz del Quiché.

You can learn more about El Aprisco at www.senderoecologico.cdro.org, or you can email me at mgtson@gmail.com.

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