The Dragons of Ixlu: Dragonfly Watching in Guatemala


Dragonfly watchers are known to insiders as “Oding” enthusiasts. No other insect is as agile and quick as are these miniature helicopters. They can fly in six different directions. One scientist clocked a particular type of dragonfly flying at 90 kilometers per hour, making them the fastest of all insects! And just as is the case with bird watching, you […]

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Guatemala’s Caravan of the Fox

Guatemala Caravan of the Foxes

An extraordinary, world-class event occurs every February in the mountains of Chiquimula, Guatemala, making Esquipulas one of the Earth’s major pilgrimage sites, rivaling Mecca, Vatican City and the Ganges River. I arrived in Esquipulas on Thursday evening, Feb. 7. The little town was quieter than I had ever seen. No bustling crowds, no throngs of pilgrims lining up to file through […]

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Wild Cats of the Middle Realm, Central America

Jaguar Guatemala

The Biogeographical Realm of Middle America stretches from the Mexico’s Isthmus of Tehuantepec in the north around to southern Panama. This narrow land bridge, which joins the two regions, has been the major dispersal route for species moving north and south, most often as the result of climate change caused by major ice ages and the relatively short, warmer inter-glacial […]

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Las Conchas Waterfalls, Guatemala


ROADS TO ADVENTURE. text/photos by Capt. Thor Janson, navigator / explorer, Hidden Treasures of Chapinlandia – Alta Verapaz. New highways in Guatemala are opening up to the casual traveler incredibly beautiful, previously little-known locations, now easily accessible for any vehicle in good operational condition. The road between Raxrulha, Alta Verapaz and San Luis, Petén used to be only for bold travelers in 4×4, […]

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Maya Princesses

Rabin Ajau: The paramount indigenous cultural event of the Mayan world text/photos by Capt. Thor Janson — navigator / explorer ( — Candaleria Coquix grew up in the little settlement of Cantón Zapotál, part of the Municipality of San Lucas Tolimán in the Department of Sololá. Just a stone’s throw from a little bay on the southern shore of Lake Atitlán, Zapotal […]

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In the Land of Green Lightning

Guatemala: Tierra del Relampago Verde

  Author/photographer: Thor Janson Published by Artemis Edinter Spanish/English 240 pages, color photography   “Biologist, conservationist and photographer Thor Janson has worked in Central America for nearly thirty years. In this book he reveals his deep love and respect for the land and its inhabitants through 250 stunning color photographs accompanied by short descriptive text. An introduction by anthropologist Robert […]

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Rabin Ajau: Daughter of the King

Contestants from last year’s Rabin Ajau. The focus of the pageant is on spiritual beauty, oratory and  cultural knowledge. Additional criteria include grace, charm, carriage, sincerity and intelligence.

Cobán’s annual festival includes a spectacular traditional pageant It was a cool July afternoon and the cheepy cheepy (misting rain) was refreshing the land when we arrived in Cobán, the capital of Alta Verapaz Department. The last week in July is when Cobán celebrates its annual festival with parades, rodeos, expositions, fairs and one of the most wonderful cultural events […]

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Maximón ceremony in San Lucas Tolimán by Thor Janson

Mayan Patron Saint is an enigma text and photos by Thor Janson There is not a town or village in the entire Mayan Highlands where the presence of Maximón is not being asserted. Although the guide books for many years have only listed three Maximón shrines—San Andrés Itzapa, Zunil and Santiago Atitlán—there are literally thousands of Maximón temples and […]

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Trogon Hunting in the Cucurucho Cloud Forest

Birdwatching and hiking at El Pilar, Antigua’s little-known nature reserve written by Kate Witt photos: Thor Janson We hop out of the 4×4 truck to finish our ascent, cool in the luscious cover of the mountain vegetation until we reach the peak, a refreshing 10-minute hike. The view was incredible—I was astounded to see Lake Amatitlán with a spread of […]

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Discovering the Mermaids

Author Janson makes friends with a young manatee

Once seen in the hundreds and even thousands, manatees are now only found in isolated enclaves along American coasts. text and photos by Thor Janson Three months after Columbus’ arrival in the Caribbean, on Jan. 9, 1493, the ship’s log recorded: “On the previous day when the Admiral went to the Rio del Oro he saw three mermaids which rose […]

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Butterfly by Thor Janson

Sapphires sparkle all around you in Guatemala. Unlike some other gems that must be searched out, sapphires are overhead, underfoot, all around. You can easily bathe in deep, rich pools of sapphire. No, not the imported jewelry gems found in stores, but rather in nature throughout this “land of eternal spring.” The Pacific and Caribbean coasts flanking Mesoamerica offer expanses […]

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Quetzal (photo: Thor Janson)

Yes, emeralds are found in our jewelry stores, but only imported gems. Emerald, however, is a rich sight in the Highlands of Guatemala, especially now with the rainy season polishing the leaves and enriching the grasses. And yes, we’ve our own emerald stones too, the deep imperial of Guatemala’s very special jadeite jewelry, but it’s the deep green tones of […]

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El Pilar

photos by Thor Janson Experimenting with a Vision The second of a three-part series exploring El Pilar, home to a large diversity of animal and plant life—much of which remains to be discovered and researched. The vision for transforming Finca El Pilar into a protected natural reserve is something of an ongoing experiment. Manager Juan Rivera says constructing a haven […]

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Thor Janson

Janson enjoys a morning cup before heading out to his 'studio'

Wildlife conservationist, photographer, author, adventurer, environmentalist and educator The volcano Pacaya in Guatemala began erupting more dramatically than usual one day several years ago, and nature photographer Thor Janson rushed to the slopes to take pictures for his files. “By 4 o’clock Pacaya was spewing molten lava several hundred meters into the air every 30 to 45 seconds,” Thor recalls. […]

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