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Heading north of the quetzal sanctuary, the highway crosses into the department of Alta Verapaz, and another 13km takes you beyond the forests and into a luxuriant alpine valley of cattle pastures hemmed in by steep, perpetually green hillsides. Most people speed through this region on their way to Cobán, but there are a few interesting attractions to detain you if you have the time to explore these evergreen hills and their towns’ curiosities. There’s also a possible route east from here to the Caribbean along the Polochic valley.

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