In Search of the Quetzal Bird in Biotopo del Quetzal | Guatemala

Affiliate link disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links including Amazon that earn me a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Read more in our full Affiliate Link Disclosure.

In Search of the Quetzal Bird in Biotopo del Quetzal, Guatemala

In Search of the Quetzal Bird in Biotopo del Quetzal

Biotopo del Quetzal in Guatemala

The reserve opens daily from 7 am to 4 pm and costs 40 Quetzales ($5.20 USD) to enter. I believe you can also camp overnight if you wish for another 20 Quetzales ($2.60 USD) but you must arrive before the gates close at 4 pm.

The Resplendent Quetzal

Male Quetzal Bird in Biotopo del Quetzal

Hiking in Biotopo del Quetzal

Hiking Trail in Biotopo del Quetzal

Only a small section of Biotopo del Quetzal is open to visitors. There are two well-kept trails that start from the visitors centre creating a circuit through the cloudforest. The Ferns Trail is 2 km long, whilst the Moss Trail is 4 km long and part of them are combined. The longest trail climbs about 300 meters up the mountain to a viewpoint through dense cloudforest. There’s also then a side trail you can take to a waterfall where you can swim.

Sadly we only had time to do the shorter hike as we only stayed one night and our bus was at 1 pm. This was still a really nice hike through the cloudforest, the shady canopy offered a welcome reprieve from the sun and the flora was amazing. We saw so many strange plants, ferns, mosses and mushrooms we’d never seen before, along with plenty of colourful butterflies and various insects.

Waterfall in Biotopo del Quetzal

If you’re trying to do your bit for the environment like us, a filter water bottle is a great idea. It means you don’t have to carry so much water, reduces single-use plastic waste and makes any water from a river, stream or waterfall safe to drink. We personally love the Water-to-Go filter water bottles (use the code CTWT15 at checkout on the EU website for a 15% discount or CTWT20 on the US website for a 20% discount – until January 2021 when it also reverts to 15% with the code CTWT15).

Also, remember to take insect repellent as there’s plenty of biting insects about and some sunscreen for the open stretches of the hike.

Spotting the Elusive Quetzal Bird

As I mentioned before Biotopo del Quetzal is home to the resplendent quetzal bird. Although it’s shy, if you get lucky you may get to spot it whilst you’re in the reserve. The best time of year to see quetzal birds is just before or after nesting season in March or June. The best place to see them is near the aguacatillo tree in the carpark around 7 am or 4 pm where you might spot them eating the avocado-like fruits.

I guess you’re wondering if we managed to spot any quetzal birds…well we did but not whilst we were hiking in the official Biotopo del Quetzal. We arrived to start our hike a little too late and the day before when we arrived, the gates had already closed. Luckily, it didn’t matter though as we’d actually managed to see two quetzal birds, a male and female, from near the restaurant of Ranchitos de Quetzal, where we stayed.

I was just walking down to the restaurant after getting changed when I saw a commotion of staff and Andy running between the restaurant and road with binoculars. I was glad to have my travel binoculars to hand and managed to just catch a brief glimpse of a quetzal before it disappeared. I was a bit disappointed as I couldn’t see it all that well.

All was not lost though and shortly after one of the guys that worked at Ranchitos came running over with some huge powerful binoculars on a tripod, pointing towards the trees. We joined him and were able to get a much closer look at both a male and female quetzal bird in all their glory. They were absolutely stunning birds and we felt extremely lucky to see them.  

Where to Stay in Biotopo del Quetzal

Being a bit out of the way, accommodation near Biotopo del Quetzal is fairly limited although you can see a few options on TripAdvisor.

Ranchitos del Quetzal

We stayed at Ranchitos del Quetzal (paid for ourselves), which seemed to be the best option for us. Its location was ideal for us with our limited time as it’s literally right next door to Biotopo del Quetzal. We took one of their standard private double rooms which had two double beds and a single bed so could easily sleep a family. It was fairly simple, but very clean and suited us perfectly. They also have a variety of other room types on offer all at fairly reasonable prices.

Ranchitos del Quetzal is a family run lodge that was created 30 years ago to help protect the habitat of the quetzal bird. Nowadays through the interactive workshops and accommodation they offer, they are able to sponsor and follow up on social and educational projects of research, conservation and reforestation.

Onsite at Ranchitos del Quetzal are two hiking trails that join together in a loop, which can be easily walked in about an hour. Fairly near the start or end of the loop (depending on which way you go), there’s a little waterfall which you can take a refreshing dip in.

There’s also a restaurant onsite serving simple but tasty traditional meals at a good price. The icing on the cake is the high likelihood you’ll be able to spot a quetzal bird or maybe multiple quetzals right in the trees above the restaurant.

Yo Lo Vi Graffiti at Ranchitos del Quetzal

We really enjoyed our stay at Ranchitos del Quetzal and only wished we were able to stay longer than just one night.


How to Get to Biotopo del Quetzal

It’s likely if you’re visiting Biotopo del Quetzal you’ll be doing it either from Antigua on the way to Semuc Champey or vice versa. Unless you’re happy to fork out a fair amount of cash for a private taxi it’s likely you’ll take one of the tourist shuttles that run that route once a day in each direction.

Take a Tourist Shuttle With GuateGo

GuateGo provided us with a complimentary tourist shuttle from Antigua to Biotopo del Quetzal which I’ve reviewed below. Read more in our full Product Review Disclosure.

GuateGo Shuttle Guatemala

The easiest way to get to Biotopo del Quetzal from Antigua is by arranging a tourist shuttle through the online website GuateGo. GuateGo is a trip planning website for Guatemala. It allows you to compare different methods of transportation and purchase tickets for your trip online.

When we took our trip, Biotopo del Quetzal wasn’t a scheduled stop on the route. Despite this GuateGo arranged for us to be dropped off there and collected again the next day to continue our journey to Lanquin for Semuc Champey.
Note: Since we took the tourist shuttle to Biotopo del Quetzal from Antigua, GuateGo have added Biotopo del Quetzal as an official destination on their website which is great.
The shuttle journey to Biotopo del Quetzal ran smoothly. We were collected on time from our hostel in Antigua, then continued to pick up other passengers before leaving Antigua. There was then a quick technical stop about halfway to use the bathroom and buy snacks.
The weather took a turn for the worse later on in the journey so the driver had to slow down, making us a little behind schedule. This was fine of course because of safety first and all that. By the time we arrived at Biotopo de Quetzal it was raining hard, so we were relieved when the driver dropped us off right outside our hotel to save us from getting too wet.
We used GuateGo to book all our tourist shuttles around Guatemala. We’d recommend them to anyone looking to book reliable, convenient and affordable tourist shuttles throughout Guatemala.

If you want to see the resplendent quetzal bird then a visit to Biotopo del Quetzal is a must. If you’re not a bird fan it’s still worth a visit to enjoy some wonderful hikes through the amazing protected cloudforest.


Guatemala Trip Planning Resources

Planning your trip to Guatemala? Here are some of our recommended useful resources to help. 

● For the best flights we use Skyscanner, I usually find great deals there.
● We use or HotelsCombined to find the best hotel prices.
● For self-catering accommodation, Airbnb is our go-to.
● We always check accommodation reviews on TripAdvisor before booking.
● Even in the modern days of Google we still like to use guidebooks for ideas.
● If you prefer organised day or multi-day trips Get Your Guide has plenty.


 If you’re from the EU you can’t beat True Traveller. If you’re from other           countries worldwide, World Nomads is good.

 A new contender for shorter term travel insurance is SafetyWing, which you     can pay for on a month by month basis.

Enjoy this post? Pin it for later!

In Search of the Quetzal Bird in Biotopo del Quetzal, Guatemala

In Search of the Quetzal Bird in Biotopo del Quetzal, Guatemala

In Search of the Quetzal Bird in Biotopo del Quetzal, Guatemala

Have you visited somewhere less touristy in Guatemala?
Would you recommend it?

Read More Guatemala 


Volcan Acatenango Hike Adventure

11 Fantastic Things to Do in Antigua

The Mayan Ruins of Tikal

Product Review Disclosure: GuateGo provided us with a complimentary tourist shuttle from Antigua to Biotopo del Quetzal. This did not influence my post in any way and as always I’ve provided a balanced and honest review. Read more in our full Product Review Disclosure.

SUBSCRIBE to get your FREE checklist for long-term travel or moving overseas, and to receive email updates, travel tips, offers and giveaways!

We don’t spam. 
You confirm you’ve read our Privacy Policy.
Unsubscribe at any time.

Buy Me a Coffee

A ridiculous amount of coffee is consumed in the running of this blog.

If you find our content helpful, interesting or entertaining (or all three), please consider buying us a coffee to help us refuel so we can continue creating quality content for you!

Thank you for your support!



8 thoughts on “In Search of the Quetzal Bird in Biotopo del Quetzal | Guatemala

  1. Joshua

    Great blog post! Really helping me plan our trip to maximize birding potential!
    Do you know if visitors can hangout and watch the feeders without actually staying at Ranchitos? Im looking for a place to see some hummingbirds on the east slope of the mountains!

    Thanks so much!

    1. TanyaKorteling Post author

      I’m glad it was of help. Yes I’m sure you can go and hang out in the restaurant at Ranchitos so long as you buy something to eat and drink.

      AND it’s a great place for spotting Quetzals too in the morning and evening!

  2. Marion

    Incredible! I’m adding this to my bucket list of places to visit! It sounds like a wonderful experience. I’m glad there are actions taken to protect this beautiful bird. How nice of the staff to have helped you observe them! That says a lot about the people living and working in the area, I think.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *