North of Chajul, foot trails lead to the summit of 2,700-meter (9,000-foot) Cerro Bisís and some hamlets scattered throughout a roadless wilderness that has been proposed for special protection. Beyond this lies the Ixcán, a jungle wilderness extending northwest to Huehuetenango and the Mexican border settled by landless peasants during the 1960s with the help of Maryknoll missionaries.
It was hotly contested during the civil war with virtually every village being razed to the ground in a scorched-earth campaign by the Guatemalan military. Today it remains largely untamed and many settlers have moved back from exile in Mexico. An interesting read on this subject is Paradise in Ashes, by Beatriz Manz.
The region holds excellent possibilities for ecotourism and remains one of Guatemala’s great wilderness areas. It’s quite literally the end of the road. If you’re the explorer type, you may want to head out this way and if you do, feel free to write in with your experiences.
© Al Argueta from Moon Guatemala, 3rd Edition. Photos © Al Argueta www.alargueta.com