Guatemala is in Central America, bordering the North Pacific Ocean between El Salvador and Mexico, and bordering the Gulf of Honduras (Caribbean Sea) between Honduras and Belize. It is mostly mountains with narrow coastal plains and rolling limestone plateau. The highest point is Volcan Tajumulco (4,211 m), not only in Guatemala, but also in Central America. (See Wikipedia List of volcanoes in Guatemala.) Environmental issues include deforestation in the Peten rainforest, soil erosion, and water pollution.

Located in northern Guatemala, the largely forested Petén region is home to the 2.5-million acre Maya Biosphere Reserve, a top tourist attraction, but it also suffers from extensive deforestation, much of due to illegal logging and slash-and-burn agriculture. Tikal National Park is one of the core areas of the larger Maya Biosphere Reserve. (See Wikipedia categories Protected areas of Guatemala, and National parks of Guatemala.) There is also an association of private nature reserves in Guatemala, Asociación de Reservas Naturales Privadas de Guatemala. ParksWatch maintains summary data on threats facing protected areas in Guatemala. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System extends along the coast of four Central American countries, including the Caribbean coast of Guatemala. The private ecolabel “Programa de Certificación en Turismo Sostenible GREAT Green Deal”,, is based in Guatemala.

Proyecto Ecológico Quetzal is an NGO located in Cobán, working with Mayan Q’eqchi’ communities, dedicated to the conservation and protection of the forests in the department of Alta Verapaz. Chelemha Lodge is located in the Chelemhá Cloud Forest Preserve, part of the Yalijux Important Bird Area. ARCAS (Asociaciòn de Rescate y Conservaciòn de Vida Silvestre) and the wild animals it protects benefit from the support of volunteers and ecotourism at their Rescue Center in Petén. Jaguar Inn Tikal offers access to the Scarlet Macaw Trail (Ruta Guacamaya). Hotel Gringo Perdido and Hotel Piramide Paraiso are two of the very few hotels that are located right on the lakeside of Lake Peten Itza. Punta de Manabique is a small peninsula that separates Amatique Bay from the Gulf of Honduras, on Guatemala’s east coast, near the town of Puerto Barrios, and declared a wildlife reserve in 1999.

Biosphere reserves:

  • Maya 1990
  • Sierra de las Minas 1992
  • Trifinio Fraternidad, 2011. Transboundary BR (El Salvador / Guatemala / Honduras)

IUCN members:


The Maya civilization flourished in Guatemala and surrounding regions during the first millennium A.D. After almost three centuries as a Spanish colony, Guatemala won its independence in 1821. During the second half of the 20th century, it experienced a variety of military and civilian governments as well as a 36-year guerrilla war. In 1996, the government signed a peace agreement formally ending the conflict, which had led to the death of more than 100,000 people and had created some 1 million refugees. (See Wikipedia Guatemalan Civil War.)

The International Indian Treaty Council (Consejo Internacional de Tratados Indios) is active in Guatemala with indigenous tourism issues. Ak’ Tenamit is an indigenous community development organization that works with cultural preservation in Guatemala. Safe Passage is an NGO working in Guatemala City with children and families living in extreme poverty, and offers a number of volunteer opportunities to help. The local coffee growers cooperative ASUVIM (Asociación Unidos para Vivir Mejor) now forms part of ECO-APOCS (Empresa Corporativa de Organizaciones – Asociación de Productores Orgánicos de Café de Sololá), offering coffee tours walking or on a horse around Lago de Atitlan.

World heritage:

  • Tikal National Park (1979)
  • Antigua Guatemala (1979)
  • Archaeological Park and Ruins of Quirigua (1981)

ICCROM members:


  • Key issues and challenges to the development of community-based ecotourism in Guatemala by HS Theile, 2012
  • Tourism and Garifuna in Livingston, Guatemala by O Cuisset, 2012
  • Tourism development in the Department of Solola, Guatemala by L Jolin & JC Santos, 2010
  • Community-Based Tourism as Part of Post-Conflict Reconstruction in Guatemala? by R Jongerius & IG van der Haar, 2009
  • ‘The Maya Spirit’: Tourism and Multiculturalism in Post Peace Accords Guatemala by J Devine, 2009
  • Does tourism play a role in Guatemala’s development? by E McIntyre & D Telfer, 2008
  • Ecotourism and Sustainability in a Q’eqchi Maya Community, Guatemala by B Bascomb & M Taylor, 2008
  • Evaluating the Design and Management of Community-Based Ecotourism Projects in Guatemala by KL Miller, 2008
  • Ethnic tourism and indigenous activism: power and social change in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala by BM Willett, 2007
  • An Analysis of Tourist Preferences for the Development of Ecotourism in Uaxactún, Guatemala, Using Choice Experiments by D Shoka, 2006
  • Community-based Tourism in Guatemala by V Martain-Haverbeck, 2006
  • Planning for Ecotourism in Uaxactun Guatemala by M Alvarez & L French, 2006
  • Planning for Sustainable Community Based Ecotourism in Uaxactun, Guatemala by C Koenig & C Juska, 2006
  • Tourists and Locals Preferences Toward Ecotourism Development in the Maya Biosphere Reserve, Guatemala by RR Hearne & CA Santos, 2005
  • Underexposed Child Sex Tourism Industry in Guatemala by GL Giron, 2003
  • Management of Resources-Based Tourism at Tikal National Park in Northern Guatemala by I Fujisaki, 2002
  • Negotiating tradition: Tourism retailers in Guatemala by J Moreno & M Ann Littrell, 2001
  • Conservation status of marine biodiversity and tourism in the coastal zones of Guatemala by C Villagran, 1998
  • Financial return of agricultural, forestry and ecotourism activities in the San Pedro volcano, Guatemala by CM López Arrivillaga, 1998
  • Emerging Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation Programs in Two Ecotourism Projects in Petén, Guatemala by B Talbot & K Gould, 1996
  • Measuring the impacts of ecotourism on animal populations: A case study of Tikal National Park, Guatemala by LA Hidinger, 1996
  • The impact of tourism, development, and religious change on the Highland Maya community of Santa Cruz La Laguna, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala by LA Schaumann, 1993
  • First interamerican seminar on tourism management; Antigua, Guatemala, 26-31 October 1990 by G Guadarrama Muñoz, 1991
  • Conservation and tourism: the ancient capital of Antigua Guatemala in the 20th century by E Bell, 1986
  • Tourism and cultural change. Sociocultural and economic effects of tourism on the Panajachel Indians in Guatemala by T Hamer, 1979

Guatemala Data