Birds are perhaps the most easily spotted animals at the reserve. Jays and warblers abound near our orchidarium, hummingbirds and flycatchers are often seen flying around our clubhouse, trogons and toucanets hide in the lush foliage of our forests, quails and partridges scuttle beneath shrubs and small trees, and swallows circle the skies above the hotel together with the occasional bird of prey. We have so far identified 54 species of birds, including several species in the aforementioned categories together with motmots, the highland guan, woodpeckers, creepers, wrens, owls, cuckoos, and many others. 

Bird Of Prey
Black And White Warbler
Bronzed Cowbird
Buff Breasted Flycatcher
Common Chlorospingus
Garnet Throated Hummingbird
Rose Throated Becard
Slate Throated Whitestart
Spot Crowned Woodcreeper
Stellers Jay
Tufted Flycatcher
White Eared Hummingbird
Wilsons Warbler

The orchid family, Orchidaceae, includes some of the most complex flowers in the world in terms of structure and when it comes to methods of attracting pollinators. While most people picture beautiful corsages or large and showy flowers when they think about orchids, most orchids have small flowers and many are downright tiny or inconspicuously colored.

There are somewhere between 800 and 1000 orchid species in Guatemala, mostly in the humid mountainous areas of the country. At El Tular we have so far identified almost 100 different species, which makes us the privileged protectors of 10% of the species found in the country. Many of these are terrestrial plants, often dry-season deciduous, but most are epiphytes, anchored to the branches of trees but not feeding on the trees like they would if they were parasites.

We have an orchidarium at the reserve, in which you can observe over 100 different species of Guatemalan epiphytic orchids up close. Most of these have been rescued from the reserve, while others have been gifts from friends and customers. If you want to get to know our terrestrials, you’ll have to traverse our many trails, where you’ll spot them happily growing in the dense undergrowth of our forests.


Our 150-acre reserve protects pine-oak forests typical of those native to the areas around Guatemala City before urban sprawl and agriculture led to massive deforestation. The forest is dominated include several species of oak, several species of pine, and a single species of hornbeam. We’ve identified plants from 75 different families, including 19 species of bromeliads, almost 100 species of orchids, two tree-dwelling cacti, two unrelated species of terrestrial parasites, and a host of trees and wildflowers.

Our sanctuary also protects an area of wetlands, which remain verdant year-round and are home to several species of aquatic plants, such as cattails and horsetails. Our small portion of cloud forest is home to thousands of epiphytes and at least two species of tree fern and two species of filmy ferns; the latter are usually restricted to very damp areas and their fronds are only one cell thick.

Anagallis Arvensis Primulaceae 1
Anoda Cristata 2
Arachnothryx (Rondeletia) Laniflora Rubiaceae 5
Asclepias Curassavica 20
Bidens (Hojas Tipo Dahlia) 2
Bifurcate Fern Cerro DR 1
Bomarea Edulis 26
Browallia Americana 5
Castilleja Arvensis
Cestrum Aurantiacum Entrada 6
Cirsium Sp Cardosanto Asteraceae 34
Cobaea Scandens Closeup 10
Cobana Guatemalensis 5
Crataegus Mexicana Manzanilla
Cuphea Sp (Small) Lythraceae 2
Cupressus Lusitanica 01
Cupressus Lusitanica Con Epifitas 3 Copy
Echeandia Skinneri 3
Erigeron Sp Asteraceae 5
Euphorbia Cotinifolia Entrada 8
Fuchsia Microphylla 3
Fuchsia Paniculata Subsp. Paniculata 2
Gonolobus Lasiostemma 19
Granadilla Silvestre Passiflora 20
Hamelia Sp. Rubiaceae Redondel Cerro DR 3
Helecho Y Vernacion 5
Heterocentron Sp Melastomataceae 1
Heterocentron Subtriplinervium Melastomataceae 5
Kalanchoe Cf Crenata Crassulaceae 8
Lantana Camara Closeup
Lepidaploa Tortuosa (Vernonia Tortuosa) 15
Lippia Sp Verbenaceae 4
Lobelia Laxiflora Huerto Campanulaceae 5
Lopezia Racemosa Onagraceae 1
Ludwigia Cf Octovalvis 4
Maianthemum Flexuosum Cerecito Asparagaceae 10
Malvaviscus Arboreus 2 Copy 2
Monotropa Uniflora 01
Monstera Adansonii 19
Myrsine Coriacea 1
Neobrittonia Acerifolia Malvaceae 06
Oenothera Rosea Onagraceae 22
Oreopanax Peltatus 1 Copy 3
Orthrosanthus Chimboracensis Iridaceae 9
Passiflora (Rounded 2 Lobed Leaves) 3
Phytolacca Icosandra 2
Rondeletia Strigosa Camino Cerro DR 2
Salvia Sp (Green Bracts) Lamiaceae 19
Senna Pallida Caesalpinioideae 6
Solanum Brevipedicellatum 3
Solanum Nigrescens Macuy Solanaceae 4
Tigridia Pavonia Copy
Triumfetta Dumetorum Malvaceae 4
Urera Caracasana Urticaceae Chichicaste 03
Vernonanthura (Vernonia) Deppeana Asteraceae Suquinay 9
Zephyranthes Carinata Duende Rosado Amaryllidaceae 4

While there used to be an incredibly rich fauna in the department of Guatemala, urban development and agriculture have decimated the populations of many of the larger and rarer animals that once lived in the area. And while the forests of our reserve once hosted deer, coyotes, and kinkajou, along with a variety of wild cats, we are fortunate enough to have spotted numerous animals during the couple of years since the farm was instated as a reserve.

We are currently home to several species of snakes, lizards, frogs, toads, and other reptiles and amphibians, including the critically endangered Agalychnis moreletii, Morelet’s tree frog. We have also spotted several mammals, including bats, armadillos, foxes, skunks, shrews, weasels, opossums, and several rodents, including mice, porcupines, rabbits, and squirrels. Fortunately, we are also still a haven for at least one of the smaller species of wild cats, the jaguarundi, also known as the eyra cat.

We know, however, that we have only scratched the surface when it comes to listing the animals that find a home in our sanctuary. Furthermore, as the years go by and the forests around the reserve and in the department of Guatemala continue to decline, we will uphold our mission and protect our wildlife, hopefully becoming a sanctuary for an ever-growing number animals.

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Rainy Season

The rainy season at the reserve begins sometime in May and ends in mid-November. The temperature during the rainy season is usually comfortably mild throughout. The term “rainy season” can be misleading, though – the rainy season in Guatemala is simply the time of the year when it rains often, but not necessarily every day, and certainly not all day. It mostly rains in the evenings and nights, though we do have occasional rainstorms that last for days or morning showers that give way to beautiful sunny afternoons. The seeds of annual shrubs and herbs germinate and grow quickly, while plants that had shed their leaves during the dry season become lush once again. The area between our clubhouse and bungalows sometimes floods, which is why our rooms were built above the ground – the water is borne in several springs fed by the rain that falls on our own hills.

El Tular takes on a special feel during the rainy season. You’ll see fungi decorating earth and rotting logs in a variety of shapes and colors (from blue to scarlet, from wiry to spherical), truly parasitic plants dotting the floors of our forests, a profusion of mosses blanketing stones and leaf litter, and a wide array of lichens clinging to twigs and bark. You’ll also notice the branches of many of our trees spring into life – epiphytic ferns and orchids grow mostly during the rainy season, joining bromeliads and mistletoes high up on the boughs of their hosts, adding to the biodiversity of our sanctuary and providing countless animals with food and shelter. Our forests come alive in the rainy season, and the mud we must inevitably deal with is a small price to pay to witness such astounding diversity.

Dry Season

The dry season begins sometime in November and lasts through mid-May. The weather at El Tular can be quite chilly during the first few months of the dry season and quite hot during the latter half. The accumulated humidity of the rainy season keeps everything green until December or January, when the lack of rains finally begins to have an effect on our soils and, thus, many of our plants. The grass surrounding our clubhouse and bungalows dries off, and annual herbs and shrubs release their seeds and then wither and die. While most of our forests are dominated by evergreen pines, certain areas have plentiful oaks and hornbeams, which respond to the inner clocks they inherited from their northern ancestors and shed their leaves in their preparation for an icy winter. Other trees, mostly those of tropical origin, lose their foliage in an effort to prevent water loss through their leaves during the dry months.

The reserve is anything but drab during the dry season, though. Most wildflowers and orchids bloom profusely during the dry season, perhaps because the weather is most conducive to pollination by insects and birds, which tend to remain inactive when it rains. Because of the clear skies, the dry season is also the best time for birdwatching, camping, sunbathing, and stargazing – the area around our clubhouse offers spectacular views of the night sky and the Milky Way. The rich variety of trees and shrubs we protect makes for a beautiful green backdrop year-round, though, and some people might question how a place can remain so lush even when it hasn’t rained for months.

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