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: El Aprisco Nature Reserve.

If you take in your oxygen through respiration like I do, you might have noticed that the air around Xela isn’ t the world’ s cleanest. For this reason, it’ s nice to take a walk in the woods every once in awhile to see the forest from the trees….or the trees from the forest. I never was very good at metaphors.

El Aprisco is an ecological park dedicated to conservation of the forests of Totonicapán and the environmental education of Guatemala’ s youth. Located 5.5 kilometers outside of Totonicapán, you can get there by taking a bus to Santa Cruz del Quiche and asking them to drop you off at El Aprisco. Once you’ re there, you’ ll find that there’ s no shortage of fun things to do:

Bring a picnic to enjoy with the sounds of wind in the pines and the stream flowing down the mountain. The park has grills and thatched-roof picnic areas. Or order ahead for a traditional K’ iche lunch for a reasonable price.

Explore their 2 kilometer trail through the pine and fir forests to learn about endangered species and the history of conservation in Totonicapán.

Visit their museum, which has exhibits on the culture and history of Totonicapán, or watch a nature video in their theater.

Try your hand at bolas, saltacuerda, or other traditional Mayan games or play soccer in the forest on one of their two fields.

Bring your binoculars and catch a glimpse of the Pink-headed warbler, an endangered bird species which is locally common. Once you’ ve found the warbler, there are more than 65 other bird species waiting to be discovered.

Reserve a space with one of their local guides to come along on a hike in the vast communal forests. Hikes end at overlooks with views of the entire Xela valley or of El Quiche.

Visit their medicinal garden and learn about traditional Mayan medicine using these locally-grown plants.

Spend a night in one of their cabins, built in the traditional style of Totonicapán. In the morning, wake to a bird-watching or sight-seeing hike in the forest, or simply cook your breakfast over an open fire and enjoy the sun and fresh air of the mountains.

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