Rio Claro and Las Escobas Preserve

Feb 14, 2019 - National Geographic Quest

This morning National Geographic Quest arrived at Puerto Barrios where we boarded the pangas that would take us to an estuary along the Rio Dulce, near the port town of Livingston. We went up-river to explore a bit. Our curiosity paid off when we came across limestone walls of a canyon that were well over 100 feet from the water’s surface. In a much earlier time, this waterway served as one of the most critical channels for Mayan imports and exports. Mayan descendants still use this very river today for fishing and travel in handmade kayaks or “cayucos.”

A short ride up the mountains brought us to the Las Escobas private preserve. Apart from safeguarding important sections of the Guatemalan rainforest just above Puerto Barrios, its extensive limestone formations provide some of the most crystalline waters to the city below.

At the preserve we met a group of researchers who were busy tagging migratory birds. In a place of such high biodiversity, birds are in rich supply. The day yielded an array of species, including white hawks, royal terns, plenty of Neotropic cormorants, brown pelicans, white great egrets, and many other water birds.

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About the Author

Maguil Céspedes


Although Maguil was born in San Jose, he was raised in the countryside of Costa Rica, and it was this experience that provided him with a deep knowledge of and a profound love for the rural life of Central America.  It was this passion for nature that led Maguil to study biology at the University of Costa Rica, where he received his master’s degree in 2002. His thesis explored the genetic structure of big leaf mahogany, an endangered species of tree that is commercially extinct in much of Central America.

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