About our program

Puerta al Mundo Maya project started in 2001 as a joint cooperation between Peace Corps and the “Cancuen Project” of Vanderbilt University. They had support from different projects such as AGIL (currently Fundación AGIL) and Investment for Peace (an AGEXPRONT project). The objective of this project was to create the first ecotourism route called “Puerta al Mundo Maya” or Gateway to the Mayan World, which would be completely handled by Q’eqchi’ communities, sustainably managing their natural and cultural resources and contributing to their social and economic development.

As a follow up of this program, in May 2003, the “Q’eqchi’ community development and Sustainable Tourism” project was created. This project was coordinated by Counterpart International -CPI- with the financial support from the United States Agency for International Development -USAID-. Its main goal was to create a model of community sustainable tourism, and community heritage and agro-forestry conservation in Chisec, Alta Verapaz. CPI helps local communities in aspects such as community organization and management, and services and infrastructure improvement to make their agricultural and tourist products more competitive. The project aims to improve the products and services value and develop partnerships with public and private, national and international, organizations. The local communities involved in this project are:


Web site developed collaboratively by:


Sepalau Cataltzul – Sepalau, Lagoons
El Porvenir II –B´omb´il Pek, Jul Iq´ Caves and San Simón River
Mucbilha I and Candelaria Camposanto – Candelaria Caves National Park
La Unión, El Zapote and Santa Isabel – Cancuén archaeological site

In October of 2004, a new project called “Community Tourism and Forest Gardens for Alta Verapaz and Petén” started, also with financial support from USAID - Guatemala. The main goal of this new project was to consolidate the achievements in the Chisec area and duplicate this model of sustainable community tourism and analog forestry in Petén, specifically in:

Carmelita community - El Mirador archaeological site
Paso Caballos community - El Perú archaeological site
Piedras Negras archaeological site

In 2006, Counterpart International, supported by USAID, started the Alianza para el Turismo Comunitario. Based on this new project´s orientation, the technical assistance to communities of Puerta al Mundo Maya is now more focused. Besides activities related with cultural and natural resources and tourism services improvement, the focus has turned into strengthening the position for Puesta al Munado Maya and its destinations in the tourism value chain.

The development of these community ecotourism projects is possible thanks to the financial support of USAID and the cooperation of the following institutions: Ministerio de Cultura y Deportes, INGUAT, CONAP, AGEXPRONT, APROBA-SANK, Vanderbilt University, National Geographic Society, Peace Corps and Counterpart International, among others.