Cerro San Gil

Cerro San Gil is a 47,000 ha large protected area on the Guatemalan Caribbean coast conserving humid broadleaf forest. Located between Río Dulce in the west and Amatique Bay in the east, the preserve ranges in elevation from sea leavel to 1300 m (4250 ft). The Guatemalan conservationists organisation Fundaeco has been working in the area since the 1980ies and has achieved the official declaration as protected area in 1996. Including the surrounding coastal areas, more than 400 bird species have been recorded at Cerro San Gil.

Cerro San Gil
Cerro San Gil protects rainforest from sea level to 1300 m (4250 ft).

A biological station and surrounding trails near the village of Carboneras in the westen part of Cerro San Gil give birders access to a fine sample of Atlantic slope rainforest at an altitude of 300 m. The forest there is lush, with a dense understory and canopy trees reaching a height of 40 m. The large amount of rain water is drained in numerous fast-flowing creeks in the hilly terrain.

Including the surrounding coastal areas, more than 400 bird species have been recorded at Cerro San Gil. The forest near Carboneras is home to a rich set of rainforest birds, with mixed bird flocks including Red-throated and Red-crowned Ant-Tanagers, Lesser and Tawny-crowned Greenlets, Tawny-winged and Northern Barred Woodcreeper. Three tinamous occur in the forest and neighboring secondary growth scrub: Little, Slaty-breasted, and Great Tinamou. Cerro San Gil is the only spot in Guatemala, where Broad-billed Motmot has been documented. Keel-billed, Tody, and Blue-crowned Motmot are residents in the forest. Other species reaching en eastern Guatemala the western limit of distribution are Crowned Woodnymph and Gray-headed Piprites.

During a short visit, we recorded four owl species: Guatemalan Screech-Owl, Mottled Owl, Central American Pygmy-Owl, and Crested Owl. Also Black-and-white Owl and Spectacled Owl occur in the forest.

Access and accommodation: Cerro San Gil protected area is managed by the conservationist organization Fundaeco, who maintains a biological station near Carboneras where guests can stay at comfortable camping standards (bunkbeds with moskitoe net, shared shower and bathroom). Meals are provided at the station.

When is the best time for a visit to Cerro San Gil? The site is worth a visit all year, but the best time is from March to May (main breeding season of resident birds, and spring migration season of Nearctic breeders).

How do you support conservation and development at Cerro San Gil? With your fees for accommodation, meals, and local guiding you support people from the neighboring village of Carboneras and Fundaeco as the local stakeholders for conserving the forest at Cerro San Gil.The area is part of the Guatemalan Caribbean Slope Important Bird Area (IBA GT011).

forest trail at Cerro San Gil
Foot trail in the rain forest at Cerro San Gil.
Crowned Woodnymph
Eastern Guatemala and southern Belize mark the western limit of the distribution of Crowned Woodnymph.
Biological station at Carboneras
Biological station in the rainforest at Cerro San Gil, near the village of Carboneras.
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