Are you interested in sustainable tourism or ecotourism in Guatemala? If so, this post is for you!

I’m going to cover my seven favorite community tourism projects in Guatemala, ranging from rugged off-the-beaten-path spots perfect for adventurers to gems hidden in plain sight.

These projects are run by communities with an eye toward sustainability and caring for the environment. They also provide crucial sources of income and in some cases contribute towards education and reforestation.

I’ve lived in Guatemala most of my life and care deeply about this country and its well-being long term, so I think these places are amazing.

Why not join in the positivity and have some fun while you’re at it?

San Juan, a hub for eco tourism in Guatemala

1. Frutas del Mundo, Izabal

If you love learning about exotic plants, tasting strange new flavors, and eating a tropical farm-to-table meal, a stop at Frutas del Mundo could be just the thing.

This exotic fruit farm and nursery in Aldea el Amatillo Izabal was founded by Dwight Carter. He’s a former Peace Corps volunteer who’s lived in Guatemala since the 80s.

Stories and jackfruit

Dwight tromps around the farm in mud-splattered rubber boots and a sombrero, sharing his extensive knowledge with Mayan Quiché farmers, tourists, students, and locals alike. He’s even helped some of his neighbors start tree nurseries of their own.

Stop by for a tour of the farm, a mouth-watering farm-to-table meal, and the chance to sample chocolate made from different species of theobroma.

Tasty and informative tours

Wondering what you can learn at the farm? Dwight leads tours catered to the interests of each group. Topics can include grafting, nursery management, exotic fruit varieties and tastings (delightful!), and how to integrate animals and fish into agriculture.

If you want the farm-to-table meal, call at least one day ahead to reserve one for your party. The meal is cooked by some of Dwight’s neighbors using intriguing ingredients. They also can cater to food allergies and special diets.

Reserve a tour through Facebook or by calling or emailing Dwight at +502 5208 6928 or

Frutas del Mundo, a paradise for ecotourism in Guatemala

Frutas del Mundo

Frutas del Mundo – a paradise for ecotourism in Guatemala

2. Boqueron Canyon, Izabal

North of Lake Izabal in the jungly mountains of the Sierra de Santa Cruz is a narrow river gorge called “El Boquerón” or “the mouth.”

Here, the powerful Sauce River (pronounced sow-say) courses through the mountains, cutting a channel through limestone rock. It slices its way between striking cliffs, leaves Avatar-style rock formations in its wake, and offers plenty of outdoor fun for travelers.

Tubing down a gorge

Tubing down this river and then canoeing back up it has been one of the most entertaining and magical experiences of my life.

One of the things that made me love the experience even more was that every cent we spent went to the community of Seacacar.

This small community lies north of the Boqueron Gorge and is home to an amazing ecotourism project in Guatemala titled “Reserva Natural Cañon Seacacar.”

Ecotourism in Guatemala at its best

The project funds community schools, scholarships for students from the El Sauce watershed, improvements to tourism facilities and programs, and reforestation.

Is it off the beaten track? Yes. But it’s such a cool place I think it is worth the extra effort to get there.

Besides tubing and canoeing, you can hike some beautiful nature trails up to a stunning overlook, go birding, swim in select parts of the river, and enjoy the restaurant, hotel rooms, dormitory, and hanging bridge.

Access my complete guide on El Boqueron and Cañon Seacacar.

Hotel recommendation: Hacienda Tijax Jungle Logde

Right on the river Rio Dulce, which flows into Lake Izabal, you find this hidden paradise with its huts among mangrove trees. A gorgeous hideaway in the jungle, perfect for nature lovers.

Rio Sauce at El Boqueron, a great place for ecotourism in Guatemala

Rio Sauce at El Boqueron

3. Panimatzalam, Lake Atitlán

Step away from the hustle and bustle of Guatemala’s major tourist towns for a few hours of cultural immersion. The community of Panimatzalam is a mere 25-minute drive above Panajachel, but a world apart.

Somewhere between 150 and 200 families live on these picturesque rolling hills. It’s a traditional Kaqchikel community where few visitors come. Those who do, however, are in for a special treat.

Behind the scenes

Explore a working avocado farm and learn what goes into cultivating buttery avocados perfect for guacamole. Pruning, fertilizing, “punishing” the trees, protecting them from pests, and irrigation are all critical components.

One of the cool things about this farm is that the owners are sharing knowledge with the community. They hope to show people that with proper management, a family can support themselves on a single plot of land called a “manzana.” Most of the families here have at least that much land.

This would open doors for people to stay in their communities rather than emigrate.

Weaving, Hikes, and Easter Activities

Feeling ambitious? Book a backstrap weaving tour with a local expert and learn how to weave on a backstrap loom.

You can also spend time with a local family, learning how to make tortillas and eating lunch together. This is usually my favorite part of a visit to Panimatzalam. You can even learn some Kaqchikel words while you eat.

Since the scenery is so beautiful, hiking or mountain biking is a great way to explore. Traverse fields of maize and fava beans, stroll through a protected pine forest, and climb along hillsides with amazing views of ravines, ridges, and Lake Atitlán.

If you want to spend more time in Panimatzalam, you can book a stay in the avocado farm’s Airbnb and/or relax your sore muscles in the sauna.

In November, the stargazing is spectacular, and you can make kites for All Saint’s Day. Fly yours from a high windy spot and see how far you can get it to go without losing it.

During Easter, you can join in making the traditional “alfombras” for the processions from the Catholic Church and make wood-fired bread.

For more information or to reserve a tour contact Isabel López at +502 4160-2897 or by email at

Panimatzalam Avocado Tour, Guatemala

Panimatzalan Avocado Tour

4. Chuiraxamolo Eco Park, Lake Atitlán

Nestled on a ridge above the splendor of Lake Atitlán, is an eco-park with a hard-to-pronounce name. But don’t let the interesting combination of vowels and consonants scare you. It’s the perfect place to visit if you’re looking for ecotourism in Guatemala.

Chuiraxamolo (roughly pronounced chewy-rush-ah-mow-lo) is the brainchild of a former mayor of Santa Clara La Laguna.

The park features the highest zipline in Guatemala, great lake views, barbecue facilities, rappelling, and a few nature trails.

It isn’t what you’d call an uber-touristy location. In fact, it’s probably frequented by locals more than anyone else.

Proceeds support the municipality of Santa Clara la Laguna

But hey, if you’re interested in supporting the people of Santa Clara this could be a great choice. The park was created in 2004 thanks to a former mayor of Santa Clara and is one of four protected areas in the municipality.

I went with my family and we had fun going over the two ziplines, going down the rappel tower, and making a full-blown Guatemalan churrasco with grilled steak, green onions, “chirmol” (tomato sauce), and refried black beans.

You can get to this eco-park by tuk-tuk or microbus from Santa Clara. I’d recommend going with a couple of friends for the best time.

Need more info? Call or email the park at +502 3218 4576 or

Chuiraxamolo park & ziplining

Chuiraxamolo, perfect spot for sustainable tourism in Guatemala

Chuiraxamolo - a zipline in an ecotourism paradise in Guatemala

Chuiraxamolo park & ziplining

5. San Juan la Laguna, Lake Atitlán

San Juan la Laguna is the most accessible spot for ecotourism in Guatemala on this list. This colorful town is located on the shores of Lake Atitlán and has transformed from a little fishing village into a mecca for tourists.

What makes a trip here sustainable? Many of the projects in this village are community-led tourism initiatives focused on environmentally-friendly practices.

During a trip to San Juan, you can check out several free demonstrations and then choose to buy or donate (or not).

Here are four things you won’t want to miss in San Juan:

Beautiful Textiles Made Sustainably

The textiles in San Juan are unique because they are made from natural fibers and then dyed using traditional dying practices.

Visit one of the textile co-ops to see how cotton is spun into thread, and then how it is dyed.

The Mayan women here use leaves, bark, seeds, beetroot, annatto, and all sorts of other natural products to add color to their fibers.

They then weave their colored threads into table runners, scarves, shawls, bracelets, bags, and more.

Learn About Stingless Mayan Bees

Coffee farmers in San Juan learned about the importance of bees in pollination, so they started protecting and caring for many different varieties of endemic bees. Some of these bees even produce honey.

The “Melipona” bee makes honey with a citrusy tang. You can also try black honey or the more familiar royal honey bee honey.

Take a La Voz Coffee Tour

Learn all about coffee including how it is grown, processed, and turned into your beverage of choice at La Voz coffee plantation.

Gaining insight into where our favorite products come from can give us important insight into sustainability issues, plus gain more appreciation for everything that goes into our morning ritual.

Have lunch at Alma de Colores

If you’re hungry, consider a stop at Café Alma de Colores. Locals with disabilities run this innovative restaurant. And the ingredients are sourced from the attached organic garden project.

Don’t forget to stop into the shop across the street for handicrafts made by members of the same population.

A textile demo in San Juan La Laguna, a paradise for sustainable tourism in Guatemala

Textile demo in San Juan La Laguna

Hotel recommendation: Eco Hotel Maya Chic

What a lovely place to fully enjoy San Juan La Laguna and Lake Atitlán. At eco Hotel Maya Chic you can enjoy vegetarian food for breakfast and dinner, relax in their pretty garden among coffee plants and their lovely cats and dogs and practice yoga. A simple stay with lovely charme.

6. Laguna Brava, Huehuetenango

Picture 79,000 gallons of turquoise water, three eye-catching cenotes, tree-clad mountains, and a gushing waterfall. That’s Laguna Brava.

If you’re an intrepid backpacker willing to go where few tourists venture, put Laguna Brava (also called Yolnabaj) on your list.

This massive lake is on the northern border of Huehuetenango, within spitting distance of Mexico.

Calling adventurers

If you’re coming into Guatemala through the Guate-Mexican border at Gracias a Dios, Laguna Brava is just a hop, skip, and a jump away.

For visitors who arrive in Guatemala City, it’s going to be a bit of a trek.

The communities around Laguna Brava guard the lake fiercely. It’s probably one of the few remaining uncontaminated lakes in the country. No motorboats, hunting, or ecologically damaging activities are allowed. Everyone who comes has to pack out their own garbage.

Rustic but spectacular

The facilities are rustic and electricity is only available for a couple of hours.

You’ll want to take food and a water filter if you visit this place.

So why go? The lake and especially the cenotes are spectacular. Besides, there’s something tantalizing about venturing into the wilds, is there not?

Laguna Brava, Guatemala

Laguna Brava

7. Cenotes de Candelaria, Huehuetenango

If Laguna Brava captured your interest, the Cenotes de Candelaria is a perfect spot to add to your itinerary.

When I say “cenotes” you might think “Mexico,” but Guatemala has some too. Most of these are located in the limestone bedrock of Nentón, Huehuetenango. They aren’t nearly as commercialized as many of the cenotes you’ll find in the Riviera Maya.

Guatemala’s 165-foot-deep cenote

This is true of the Cenotes de Candelaria, two gorgeous sinkholes in what feels like the middle of nowhere. Picture rolling hills, thorny flora, and singing cicadas, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what the landscape is like.

There are two sinkholes. The largest and deepest is more developed and has stairs down to it, a floating wooden dock, life jacket rentals, and row boat tours. There are also some rustic bathrooms.

Local guides can get you to the Cenotes de Candelaria if you don’t have your own transportation, but my favorite activity at these Cenotes is camping. My family spent two magical nights here, and I still dream of going back one day.

You can swim, float, snorkel, hike, have a bonfire, and stargaze.

Just keep in mind you aren’t allowed to wear sunscreen while swimming in order to keep the water pristine. But well, we’re talking about ecotourism in Guatemala – so protecting the environment is the clear focus when visiting any of these spots.

For more information, call +502 3114-3037.

Cenotes de Candalaria, a hidden gem for ecotourism in Guatemala

Cenotes de Candelaria, a hidden gem for ecotourism in Guatemala


For backpackers or intrepid overlanders willing to go to the far-flung corner of Huehuetenango Department, Laguna Brava, and the Cenotes de Candelaria are amazing destinations for ecotourism in Guatemala. These eye-catching bodies of water are gorgeous beyond words.

If you’re planning to visit Lake Izabal, a stop at Frutas del Mundo for a tropical farm-to-table meal will give your tastebuds an awesome time.

You also won’t want to miss the striking “Boqueron Canyon” and the amazing ecotourism project there that is providing education and opportunities for an entire community.

For a fun day trip from Lake Atitlán, enjoy the zip lines above Santa Clara, or explore the colorful streets of San Juan la Laguna.

Nothing beats visiting the community of Panimatzalam and hanging out with a Kaqchikel family. This little village is just getting started with community tourism so your support could make all the difference in the project’s success or failure.

What do you think? Which of these Guatemala ecotourism projects will make your itinerary?

More about Traveling in Guatemala

More about Central America

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