Laguna Lodge Eco-Resort and Nature Reserve is a private protected area near Santa Cruz La Laguna on the northern shore of Lake Atitlán. The reserve protects a piece of forest on the steep slope of the caldera. The preserve is part of the Atitlán Important Bird Area (IBA GT015), designated by BirdLife International.
The owners of the reserve have restored habitat in the lower part up to 1,700 m (5,580 ft), which was used for agriculture before the nature reserve was established. It is currently covered with dry scrub with scattered oak trees. The upper part harbours old growth oak forest and in the more humid sections the trees are densely covered with Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides), see slide show.
The reserve is an interesting destination for birders because of some regional endemic species. In 2008 Cayaya Birding staff discovered a small population of Belted Flycatcher. Other restricted-range species are Blue-and-White Mockingbird, Blue-throated Motmot, Rufous Sabrewing, Black-capped Swallow, Bar-winged Oriole, and Bushy-crested Jay.
The 100 acre nature reserve has a trails leading approximately 900 m through secondary scrub, and 500 m through forest. The most common bird species during our summer 2008 visit in the secondary forest were Plain Wren, Lesser Goldfinch, Prevost's Ground-Sparrow, Rufous-capped Warbler, Rusty Sparrow, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush, Greater Pewee, Spotted Towhee, White-tipped Dove, and House Wren. Common winter visitors found were Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Least Flycatcher, Wilson's and Townsend's Warbler, Warbling Vireo, Indigo Bunting, and Lincoln's Sparrow.
The most common bird species of the forest assemblage found during our summer 2008 visit were Plain Wren, White-naped (Yellow-throated) Brush-Finch, Rufous-capped Warbler, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush, Greater Pewee, Yellow-billed Cacique, Band-backed Wren, Painted Redstart, Belted Flycatcher, Western Pewee, Elegant Euphonia, Rusty Sparrow, Blue-and-White Mockingbird, Acorn Woodpecker, White-eared Hummingbird, Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireo, Singing Quail, and Rose-throated Becard.
Red-tailed Hawks use the uprising warm air of the mid-morning to soar over their territory. They often share the air space with dozens of Black Vultures. Other aerial species that were common during our visits were White-throated Swift and Black-capped Swallow.
The lodge offers spectacular views over Lake Atitlán and the volcanoes San Pedro, Atitlán and Toliman. In the surroundings of the lodge we saw a Black Phoebe at the lodge's pier,Black-vented Oriole, Blue-throated Motmot, Rufous Sabrewing, Greater Pewee, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, and Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush
Nocturnal birds: Whip-poor-Wills are common in the forest, where several individuals can be heard at the same time. We recorded three species of owls, Whiskered Screech-Owl, Great Horned Owl, and Mountain Pygmy Owl.
Access and accommodation: Laguna Lodge is a boutique hotel which has currently 6 suites with private balconies and sweeping views over the lake. Day visitors are welcome to visit the nature reserve and full service vegetarian restaurant.
Laguna Lodge is accessible by boat (10 min) from Panajachel. Boat transfers on arrival and departure are complementary for guests staying at the lodge.
When is the best time for a visit to Laguna Lodge? Any time of year.
How do you support conservation and development in Laguna Lodge Atitlán Reserve? s a private nature reserve Laguna Lodge must meet requirements of the national law of protected areas in a sustainable way. The tourism program helps to develop environmental awareness among the local population. This tourism development diversifies income for local people and strengthens the base to protect natural habitat on the long term. The lodge services are environmentally friendly using local materials, solar energy, chemical reduction, solid and liquid waste minimization and waste water treatment Laguna Lodge website). Vegetables, herbs, and coffee served in the restaurant are grown organically in their own garden or by organic gardeners in the area.