When time and funding permit, each flower (each plant species) will have its own page, and its own PDF, and eventually its own PPT so that professors and students have plenty of material on Guatemala (and Honduras, etc) to study.

Heliconia adflexa, Coban, Guatemala, Hotel Monja Blanca, FLAAR, by Nicholas Hellmuth

This space is for flowers
we have recently found and photographed.

Reports by FLAAR Mesoamerica
on Flora & Fauna of Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo
Peten, Guatemala, Central America

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Biotopo Protegido San Miguel la Palotada, RBM, Peten

Biotopo Protegido San Miguel la Palotada

The Biotopo Protegido San Miguel la Palotada is one of the larger and more bio-diverse nature reserves within the Reserva de la Biosfera Maya. The Biotopo Protegido San Miguel la Palotada adjoins the west side of Parque Nacional Tikal (and on the other side of the Tikal park is Parque Nacional Yaxha, Nakum and Naranjo).

Biotopo Protegido San Miguel la Palotada

34,934 ha

349 sq km

134.88 sq miles

86,323 acres

You can use Google Maps satellite view or Satellites.pro to see what the area looks like. Most satellite photos are too dark so you have to handle them gentle in Adobe Photoshop.

Once you find a good satellite image you will notice that the Biotopo Protegido San Miguel la Palotada has small lakes, lagoons, aguadas (water holes) and lots of areas that are seasonally inundated. This means in the wet season they have standing water and in the dry season they are totally parched dry.

Cauliflory, trees that flower and fruit directly from the trunk

The entire initial field trip was worth every kilometer of slipping and sliding through the deep mud ruts when the biotope manager took us on a trail and we found cauliflorous trees. The identical species of genus Zygia are at Bio Itza. There are also Zygia at PNYNN but only one has been found in 3 years. In Tapon Creek nature reserve, Municipio de Livingston, there is another species of Zygia (larger flowers, deeper color, and stick out much further).

Biotopo Protegido San Miguel la Palotada is an adventure to reach

I am not sure I would expect Waze to get me here. Google Maps will show you where the Biotopo Protegido San Miguel la Palotada is located but I am not sure it will tell you which double-rut mud trail to slip-and-slide your 4WD into. Fortunately we had the assistance of the Biotopo team and other helpful Peteneros to explain how to reach the first base camp. Since this June visit was to meet the biotope manager we did not set up camp here.

The Bats are the most Famous Aspect of El Zotz

The archaeological site is impressive and the team working here for years is accomplishing a lot; their reports are nicely comprehensive. But our project is only flora and fauna, both to help preserve endangered species and also to document the species with high-resolution cameras. These photos we donate to the park, nature reserve, biotope or any project where these photos can assist their own research.

Our primary goal at Biotopo Protegido San Miguel la Palotada is at the request of the biotope administration, to photograph the bats in a thorough and helpful manner. We will do this photography with long-distance prime telephoto lenses. So we don’t have to be anywhere near the bats as they are swarming around the sky.

We have both 600mm and 800mm prime telephoto lenses for the new mirrorless Canon R5 camera technology. For Nikon we have 200mm, 400mm, 600mm, and 800mm prime Nikkor lenses (made by Nikon for wildlife photography). We also have the new mirrorless Sony a1 camera, 50 megapixels, and a 200-600mm telephoto zoom. Plus of course tripod and WH-200 Wimberley Head Version II gimbal tripod head.

The Sony a1 and the Canon R5 each have “bird eye focus” mode and “animal eye focus” mode. Will be curious which works best on bats in flight. This photography is best done in the dry season so we can get all the equipment to the bat area. Plus we would want to do photography about three evenings, since each one of our team will be using different lenses, different cameras, and different settings (different ISO, different f/stops, etc.).

Guides at Biotopo Protegido San Miguel la Palotada are knowledgeable and helpful

You will definitely want a guide, from MayaTrek (in the comunidad Cruce Dos Aguadas) or elsewhere. Best to have a local guide (such as from MayaTrek) even if you only wish to visit the Biotopo Protegido San Miguel la Palotada and/or ruins of El Zotz.

Maya Trek starts with Biotopo Protegido San Miguel la Palotada

MayaTrek starts in the comunidad Cruce Dos Aguadas. You hike from here to one of several camps within the Biotopo Protegido San Miguel la Palotada. The goal for the evening will be to see the famous hoards of bats that fly out of crevices in a cliff to swarm and then fly away to feed during the evening. The rest of the itinerary to Tikal you can see here:
www.guacamayastravel.com/portal/index.php/expediciones-arqueologicas/expedicion-maya-trek-el-zotz-tikal and on other travel websites for Peten and the Reserva de la Biosphere Maya.

The advantage of MayaTrek is that there are no busloads of tourists. You and your travel friends can see and hear the sights and sounds of the rain forest. Even though I have a research library on every aspect of bats, bees, butterflies, reptiles, mammals, flowers, mushrooms, ferns, lichens in fact I learn more when I am hiking through the rain forest.

You can surely find lots of videos, but here is one:

We will be preparing a list of suggested reading on the flora and fauna of Biotopo San Miguel La Palotada but here are some starters:

  • 1990
  • Estudio preliminar de los recursos naturales renovables y las características socio-económicas de las comunidades en el área de influencia aledaña al límite oeste del Biotopo San Miguel La Palotada (El Zotz), Petén. 224 pages.
  • 1999
  • Establecimiento de la línea base de información de biodiversidad del bosque manejado en San Miguel La Palotada, Petén, Guatemala y su aplicación en el monitoreo. CATIE. Turrialba, Costa Rica. 113 pages.

    Downloadable online:
  • IXCOT, L.
  • 2005
  • Estudios de biodiversidad en los biotopos: San Miguel la Palotada el Zotz y Naachtún - Dos Lagunas, Petén, Guatemala (p. 106). Guatemala: Fondo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (FONACYT) - Centro de Datos para la Conservación (CDC-CECON).


First post 29 July, 2021


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