Guatemala is located in the northernmost part of Central America and is one of the largest countries in this region.  It boasts 37 volcanoes,
a rich Mayan heritage, Lake Atitlan and one of the best preserved colonial cities in Antigua. In the second half of the 20th century, Guatemala
experienced a 36 year guerrilla war. These issues are now in the past and today  Guatemala is a
thriving democracy with a developing tourism trade.

Since none of us were up to climbing Mayan ruins, we opted to take the Safari Drive-through the Chapin Nature Park.  The park is a
nature reserve,  featuring a walk-through zoo and a drive-through safari where you can observe free-roaming wild animals from Africa and
Guatemala. Most of the animals in the zoo were originally the pets of drug lords. Having been abandoned after a severe tropical storm,
a wealthy family opened the nature reserve to care for the animals. A second reserve is also run by the family, but it is not open to the public,
as it is used strictly for the care of sick animals and for breeding purposes.


Our welcome to the port of Puerto Quetzal.

The visitor's centre as seen from the ship, This is where we boarded a bus
to take us on our excursion.


Two of Guatemala's volcanos. The one on the left is the only
active volcano in the region.

The countryside, as seen from the bus window.

Jay and I relaxing during a  'pit stop' at the entrance of the park.

The entrance pathway.


Colourful Macaws were on hand to greet the customers.


We got back on the bus and preceded to tour the drive-through portion
of the park. The bus, accompanied by a zoo keepers car, proceeded to
drive through large pens where the animals are free to roam.
 A couple of zebras decided to mosey over, in case there was
food involved.


A member of one of the hippo families at the park, enjoying lunch. Hippo's
apparently were one of the favourite pets of the drug lords.


A second family, clustered around a baby hippo to protect it.


Not a very clear picture, but there's Junior..


An Ostrich, coming over to check out the action.


Not to be outdone, Junior decided to make his views known.


A spider monkey, which normally don't like to sit on the
ground, decided that sitting on a rock was okay.

As an aside, spider monkeys are terrified of water, which is why their
habitats in the zoo were trees on small islands. As long as they
couldn't jump to a tree off the island, they would stay put.


If you look closely, you'll see that there are several monkeys in this picture.
There was actually a skirmish going on between two families, both of whom
wanted to occupy the best tree on the little island.


Except this guy, who wanted nothing to do with the fight,
preferring to risk being on land and hiding behind a tree.


Another macaw, which were free to fly anywhere.


Another favourite pet, the giraffe. This one's 'mama' who was only
mildly curious about the buses going through, as she was more
interested in eating.


That's Junior to the right ('papa' was eating in another area of the enclosure).
At one point, Junior decided to flex his muscles and show papa what he can
do, so he strolled over to the buses, parked himself between the two and
peered in the front window (I was sitting at the back and couldn't get a picture).
Only when he was good and ready to move did he allow the bus to move on.


The king at rest.


A type of cattle native to the area.


Once we completed the drive-through, we were dropped at the 'walk around'
area, where only species native to Guatemala are housed.
We were greeted with this sign on the way in, and while I don't speak spanish,
its not hard to figure out what it says: No Food, No Drinks, No Radios, No Pets,
No Soccer and Throw Your Garbage in the Trash Bins.

Izak and Dina on one of the pathways.


Don't know what this plant is (could be a type of Heliconia),
but it's beautiful.


A Tapir, which were used as pack animals prior to the Spanish
introducing horses to the region.


A waterfall, along one of the walkways.


Spotted Dear, taking shelter from the heat.


There was suppose to be something in this enclosure, but we never
found out what it was.


Thankfully, they kept the boa constrictors and pythons behind glass.


Colourful Toucans.


More monkeys in the zoo.


Let sleeping pumas lie, under a rock, out of the sun.

The Jaguar, giving you the eye.

Baby crocodiles.

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