Region which physically lies from the western outskirts of Guatemala
City to the Mexican border and from Huehuetenango to the south to a
parallel with the Pacific Ocean some 50 kilometers wide through the
Departments of Retalhuleu and Escuintla is called " EL ALTIPLANO"
Its rich tradition and high mountains characterize it. It is the region
of highest concentration of
native mayas and perhaps the richest in traditions;
It holds numerous archeological sites, urbanism and colonial
many different regional dresses and languages.
parcels of land where vegetables for almost the entire country are
grown, as well as the basic grains due to the abundant rain and fertile
soils, are also found in this region,
some of the most intensive agriculture of the world is practicated here
and the agriculture is based in night condensation irrigation.
of volcanoes and mountains, formed gullies, canyons and plateaus, which
produce a very varied landscape where communications between communities
has been difficult and has helped to diversify the ethnic groups which
can be appreciated in a relatively small territory.
department I located on the highlands of the Sierra Madre and is
characterized by steep mountains, deep ravines, beautiful valleys and
wide plains. When the Spanish Conquistadors arrived in 1526, it was a
today is a very intense comercial spot you will see it when you travel
to Chichicastenango or Lake Atitlan because the highway passes right
trought, you will note it because many buses and trucks will slow your
transportation, here is located also the back entrance to pastores (wich
is a small town dedicated to tailor hand made cow boy style boots) that
takes you righ to Antigua.
Cackchiquel archeological site is located three kilometers far south
from the city of Tecpan.
In 1524, it was the setting of important
historical events. Iximché
(tree of corn) is a land with creeks and ravines. Many
ancient architectural structures
and actual Mayan rites
can still be appreciated.
This was the very first capital of Central America, founded by Pedro de
Alvarado, who made an alianse with the Cackchikels
kings to fight the dominant Quiche groups of Gumarcaaj wich their ruins
are located near Sta Cruz del Quiche (near Chichicastenango.) If you can
visit this town and its ruins you will love it.
is Cackchiquel area, and is one of the main centers producing popular
ceramic products of the pre-Hispanic origin,
it is importan to note that this ceramic is made using a primitive way
of rotation, the maker goes around their work stead of making the clay
go around using a wheel
. It is located 24 miles from the state capital.
village, located 4.5 miles from Chimaltenango, has a temperate climate.
Its inhabitants worship "Maximon", miraculous character
made of a sacred piece of wood that
boasts both Indian and Spanish traits
and wich origin is lost in the past, you can see Maximon cult also in
and exemplifies crossbreeding between both races,
it is interesting to know that this deity likes women, likes to smoke
and can be a bad guy with your enemies if the proper ceremonies are held.
The custom of using candle color for invocate different protections and
favors probably started with the Maximon cult and is more related with
the Mayan ceremonies than the catholic.
village is noted for its primitivism-style paintings, which makes it an
important indigenous popular art center.
depict customs and daily-life activities and are sold at family-owned
that are all over the town making this town a gigantic art gallery.
they are fantastic merchants since you will see their paintings display
all over Guatemala,
This village is located 15 miles from the state capital city
and is a must see for artists.
is located 18 miles from Chimaltenango. It is famous for its religious
celebration of the Corpus Christi, which takes place in June and where
several religious ceremonies and rituals are celebrated, together with
the manufacture of colorful arches and carpets.
It is mid way to Lake Atitlan beautiful short cut, wich paisage is
beatiful and really the way it used to be years a go, unfortunately
there is no traficc in this road because the police and authorities do
not watch enought for it and assaults are frecuent there mostly in
Kilometro 154...what a shame for us.
Take it only if you like addrenaline rushes and steep high and downs re
not a problem.
Municipal state capital is located 19 miles from Quetzaltenano and 130
miles from Guatemala City. It is interesting to see the theater house
and the Casa de la Cultura (Cultural House), which houses a small
collection of pre-Hispanic, republican and ethnic art.
The Central Park has its main church with an adjacent convent, which
were constructed in 1545 and destroyed by fire in 1878,
cornerstone was placed by Francisco Marroquin, first Bishop for
who used to be very rich and had many slaves, he also founded the first
the outskirts of the city lies the Tanque de los Dragones,
(Tank of the
Dragons), which served as a fountain and washing pool during the XIX
century, and is still being used by its inhabitants
who lacks of potable water in their homes or just likes to talk about
every days events while they do laundry..
are many handicraft workshops that produce a wide range of artistic
objects, among which you can find glazed and painted ceramic pieces,
spanish style "standing looms", wax Christmas figures,
wooden boxes and toys, furniture and leather and tin goods.
use ancient tools, which go back to the time of the Mayas and Spaniards.
notable are the parties and
wich are rental shops of all kind of parafernelia used in all the
tradicional dances held in Guatemala, true museums that holds millions
of dollars in ancient ceremonial textiles
Traditional dances are
a main part of the festivities
the most important are La Conquista, Moors and Christians, Mexicans, The
Deer and the Monkeys.
is worthwhile visiting this village during its main celebration days,
which celebrate San Miguel Arcangel, from September 24th to the 30th and
during Easter week, when the passion of Christ is celebrated. The main
market day is on Saturday, full of color and very animated, it is an
located 9 miles from Totonicapán. It is an important textile center
(wool, silk and cotton). You can also find handicraft workshops where
masks, musical instruments, wooden toys, pottery and lead-glazed objects
are made. The Tistoj furniture shop is a must. The Franciscan temple and
convent are richly ornamented with valuable XVII and XVIII
century paintings. It was declared national monument by the
22 miles from Quetzaltenango and 21 miles from Totonicapán, at the base
of mount Chuicul. It has an important XVI century temple, with a
fabulous bright-yellow façade, the color which is representative of the
local huipil (indigenous blouse). There are Saints and Angels sitting
next to corncobs and Quetzal birds on the façade.
22 miles from Quetzaltenango and 21 miles from Totonicapan. Famous for
its wide variety and quality of blankets and Momostecan “ponchos”.
These people still use the ancient Mayan
calendar of 260 days
wich was the most popular calendar for the non iniciated ancient Mayas. Momostenango means “City of Altars”. Quiche priests pray upon the
smoke that works as a pray recordings that takes their prays flying to
the precense of the Gods also the way the incience burns let the shamman
know and predict events or take desitions
located both in the village and its
predict the future, using seeds, crystals, beans and corn. Nearby are
sand formations created by
erosion. The main market day is on Sunday.
FRANCISCO EL ALTO
on top of a 8600 ft high mount, 11 miles from Totonicapán and 10 miles
from Quetzaltenango. It is virtually a dead town during most of
the week, except on Fridays, when it comes to life for being
market day and this market is the largest of the Guatemalan highlands
market is not a traditional handcraft but a typical daily-life market,
where you can find anything used by the local inhabitants
including large live stock.
the goods traded are animals, crops, seeds, food products, tools and
products that people come to purchase,
be aware of pickpokers in crowded places.
has a XVI century temple, which was severely damaged by the 1976
earthquake and was later restored and declared a national monument.
restoration works, several colonial murals were uncovered beneath
multiple layers of calcium-hydroxide plaster.
the most interesting objects are, the beautiful altarpieces and
5.5 miles from Quetzaltenango city. It is a very ancient village where
the San Jacinto Church was built which was the first religious building
of the Kingdom’s Captaincy General. It is a beautiful example of
Colonial Architecture. It is also famous for its jaspe textiles, its
liquor called “Caldo de Frutas” or fruit soup, and its delicious “Rompope”.
Market days are on Tuesdays, and its celebration day is on August 23.
7.5 miles from the City of Quetzaltenango, its is placed on a beautiful
valley and within a prosperous region rich in crops and fruit orchards.
The Lacandon and Siete Orejas volcanoes surround the town.
inhabitants build woven-cane and wicker furniture weaving the fibers as
instruments and beautiful regional textiles can also be found here.
Market days are on Sundays.
3 miles from Quetzaltenango, it’s a fertile-land valley, known for its
vegetables and fruits cultivated in small parcels.
This is a town that has organized their lives around the Godspell,
almost everybody is born again Christian or Evangelico as they are call,
it is interestin to observe the results of the protestant christian
doctrine put in to work, crime is very low and business are good, if you
are a believer come and take a look, if you are not come and take a look,
if you think in save the cultural traditions...guess what...come and
take a look.
are the thermal waterbeds of Aguas Amargas and El Rosario, where
you’ll be able to dive into sulphurous waters. Market days are on
Wednesdays and Saturdays, and its local fair runs from June 27th
to the 29th.
8 miles from Quetzaltenango. Cantel has the oldest and one of the
largest textile factories in the country. There is also a blown-glass
products factory that can be visited.
day is on Sundays and its local fair is celebrated on August 15th.
3.5 miles from Xelaju, it lies next to the river banks and the Salama
River. Its features include adobe houses, broken-slate-roofs whose sizes
contrast the surrounding mountains and the Santa Maria Volcano. Its
inhabitants wear really colorful textiles, made using pre-Hispanic
techniques, with rich colors and designs that portray objects from the
corn, beans and wheat are cultivated on the river banks. The whole
valley is covered with huge volcanic stones
from ancien and modern eruptions, geothermic experiments for electricity
generation has being going for years, unfortunately and depickting the
high electricity cost, no investors had make this urgently needed
on us again.
the Central Park you will find the colonial church famous for the
carving on its façade and the silver cross on the altar. This is one of
the few villages where Maximon or San Simon, represented as a figure
with doll-like head is worshipped with Pom and ceremonies.
day is on Sundays and its main fair is celebrated on November 25th.
GEORGINAS (GEORGIAN FOUNTAINS)
Thermal-water baths with healing properties are located very near
Almolonga. Its Waters flow from the fumaces of the Cerro Quemado
baths were built during the presidential period of General Jorge Ubico,
reason for which it received that name, on his honor.
The place has a small basic hotel with fireplaces and the sourroned by
tropical lush cloud forest, the weather is kind of cold so it is very
nice to be in the hot pool, lots of locals visit the place on weekends
but during the weekdays you arte almost alone, nice place to meditate
and maybe cure some of your back pains, we can arrange a tour or
transport for this and other highland places.
thermal fountains to be visited are Los Vahos and Aguas Amargas.
MARTIN SACATEPEQUEZ (SAN MARTIN CHILE VERDE)
Mam origin, it is located north of the Chicabal volcano. Its inhabitants
during the Santa Maria volcano eruption in 1902 abandoned the village.
Later people came back and it is nowadays one of the western highlands
most interesting communities.
are excellent weavers, who embroider geometric figures depicting
pre-Hispanic and modern designs that en end up decorating their Huipiles
on the San Martin Sacatepequez area. It raises 2900 meters (9560ft).
One of the main highlights of this volcano is a lagoon that the locals
consider sacred. Throughout the month of May, they go up to the lagoon
and perform their Mayan rituals,
all the lake craer is sourronded by7 small altar stuctures mainly built
of the volcano stones, the mist comes down early and the ambience is
more like the mistic movies, the shaman voices filters trought the mist
and sourrounds you with a heavy spiritual mood. This is really a
fantastic sentation and unique experience for the spiritually oriented,
this is not a show..it is a real speiritual gate.
Camping or swimming is not recommended given the religious importance
the lagoon has for the local indigenous people
and only come with a organized tour because you can get lost easy in
is an active volcano. The crater can be reached by car or by bus up to
the El Pinal plans; The remainder of the way up has to be done by foot
and visit the ghost town recently destroyed by an eruption, in a few
thousand years this may become the pompey of Guatemala. We can arrange
the trip visiting the lagoon, fuentes georginas, Zunil and the ghost
There are other four volcanoes: Santa Maria, Cerro Quemado, Lacandon and
Following are several visit schedules that a tourist can perform, in
order to make
their visit more efficient:
HALF DAY TOUR
walking tour. Departure
from the Central Park, or Centroamerica Park and visit the surrounding
building, many of them of neo-classic architecture; to the south of the
plaza, visit the Casa de la Cultura de Occidente where it is worthwhile
to see the collection of masks and musical instruments. Finally visit
the temple of Minerva, built in the period of President Manuel Estrada
Cabrera which is a replica of the Greek Temple of that name.
Departure 8:00 am
Return 5:00 pm
the villa of Almolonga, the exiting Quetzaltenango southeast-bound; both
the villa and its market are amazing from which products are exported to
Central America and Mexico. Stay on the same road that leads to Zunil
where you will be able to see the worship activities in honor of Maximon,
to Quetzaltenango by noon and visit the city seeing its main buildings
and the market, by mid-afternoon.
night you can dine at the restaurants and go out to any local Disco
the tour very early and take the road that leads to Cuatro Caminos, at
which point you should take the CA-9 highway to Huehetenango.
here, go to visit the ruins of Zaculeu; later visit Chiantla and return
to Huehuetenango. Visit the town in the afternoon.
the tour very early in the morning by driving to Todos Santos Cuchumatan,
and try to be there by dawn to watch the sunrise from 10,000 feet
high(3,000 mts). Enjoy one of the most authentic
regions of Guatemala in
terms of its customs and traditions. After lunch return to Quetzaltenango.
one: Salcaja, Chiantla, Aguacatan, and Sacapulas:
Huehuetenango, on the road just before Cuatro Caminos stop and visit
Salcaja. When you arrive to Huehuetenango, visit its market. Later, go
east and visit Chiantla and Aguacatan where women
wear very colorful and
spectacular waist belts. On your way there you will see sheep grazing on
the hills near Santa Maria Chiquimula. Continue to Sacapulas (in Quiche)
and then go to Nebaj, a village with no pollution and with no outer
influence on its customs. See the huipiles that the women wear, as well
as the customs and religious rituals. Spend the night at a local inn.
two: Chajul and Cotzal.
Departure 7:00 am
early for a visit to the mountains, while you visit the village of
Chajul and Cotzal (in Quiche). These are also famous for the clothing
their people wear. After lunch on way back, visit Santa Cruz del Quiche
and spend the night in Chichicastenango.
three: Santo Tomas Chichicastenango
Departure: 7:00 am
early in the morning, go out and see the last preparations for one of
the most colorful markets, famous for its handcrafts. Visit the market
throughout. Later visit the Santo Tomas Church, a 400-year-old church
where both catholic and protestant rituals can be seen simultaneously.
On the afternoon, go to see the Pascual Abaj ritual, a local pagan
deity. Finally go back to either Solola or to Quetzaltenango.
( Go to TOURS Page )