Best of Guatemala’s Western Highlands
Iximché: Conveniently situated close to the Pan-American Highway about an hour outside of Guatemala City, the ruins of the former capital of the Kaqchikel kingdom is worth a look to see what the Spanish encountered when they first arrived in Guatemala. It is the most easily accessible of all the highland Mayan centers brought under Spanish dominion at the time of the conquest.
Reserva Natural Atitlán: Lake Atitlán is one of Guatemala’s greatest natural wonders, and this private nature reserve offers a unique glimpse into its ecosystems. There are trails, waterfalls, plenty of animals, a butterfly farm, and a private lake beach in addition to comfortable accommodations.
Chichicastenango’s Market: Don’t miss the chance to barter for goods and take in the chaotic atmosphere of this colorful Sunday and Thursday market at the center of a K’iche’ town.
Acul: One of the so-called ”model villages” established by the military, Acul has come into its own in the aftermath of the armed conflict. It makes an excellent hike from Nebaj, though the pastoral scenery and Swiss-like ambience found in some of the local accommodations will probably have you planning on staying the night.
Laguna Chicabal: Near Quetzaltenango, this enchanting, bowl-shaped crater lake makes a worthy day hike. Mayan rituals still take place here, and the site is equally fascinating for the spectacular natural surroundings.
© Al Argueta from Moon Guatemala, 3rd Edition. Photos © Al Argueta www.alargueta.com