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Central Highlands

Guatemala’s central highlands, which include the provinces of El Quiché, Alta Verapaz and Baja Verapaz, are home to misty forests, traditional cultures, and Guatemala’s most important market, the twice-weekly affair at Chichicastenango.

The region is home to some important Guatemalan history. The Verapaz region – “true peace” in English – was where the legendary Defender of the Indies, Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas, proved to the Spanish crown in the 16th century that warlike natives could be brought peacefully to Christianity by patient missionaries. In the 1970s and 1980s, Guatemala’s brutal insurgency was fought all over the country, but the province of El Quiché was particularly affected.

Nature lovers will want to visit El Biotopo del Quetzal, a protected ecosystem that is home to the quetzal, Guatemala’s stunning national bird. It is also known for waterfalls and good hiking trails. The city of Cobán is an attractive provincial capital, important to the local coffee industry.

The most important visitor site in the El Quiché province is without a doubt the Chichicastenango market. Visitors come from all over the world to wander in the maze of smoky streets, shopping for masks, textiles and other locally made treasures. The market is easily done in a day from Antigua or from many of the towns in the Lake Atitlan region. More adventuresome visitors to El Quiché may want to visit the picturesque town of Nebaj.









By Christopher Minster
I am a writer and editor at V!VA Travel guides here in Quito, where I specialize in adding quality content to the site and also in spooky things like...
09 Aug 2011

Things to do in Central Highlands

Cerro de la Cruz walk

105237Facing the lake in the centre of San Pedro head left and stick to the main road all the way to the next settlement, San Juan. Walk through the streets until you are out on the other side of the small ...
Hiking
San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala

Things to See and Do in Nebaj

136844Nebaj and the surrounding area has a lot of activities to offer, depending on the amount of time and interests you have. The town square is often quite lively and a good place to see some excellent ...
Other Activity
Nebaj, Guatemala

Hiking in and around Nebaj

136843One thing you must do, and it may be the very reason why you came to Nebaj, is go hiking to some of the most enchanting villages in highland Guatemala. Short or long, easy or strenuous; you can ...
Hiking
Nebaj, Guatemala

Pascual Abaj

136199A short walk south of the town center is the Maya ceremonial site of Pascual Abaj, a shrine which is still very much in use today. There are some small altars and a pre-Columbian idol, and if there ...
Historical Building
Chichicastenango, Guatemala

Iglesia Santo Tomás

136198Dating from the mid-16th century, and rebuilt in the 18th century, this atmospheric church is a great introduction to the fascinating highland blend of Catholicism and Mayan spiritualism. It is ...
Historical Building
Chichicastenango, Guatemala

Museo Rossbach

136197This archaeological and anthropological museum has three rooms exhibiting historical pieces from Chichi and the surrounding region dating to the pre-Hispanic, colonial and modern periods. There are ...
Museum
Chichicastenango, Guatemala

Chichicastenango Market

136196No visitor should come to Chichicastenango without stopping to witness the weekly market. The town becomes a different place on Sundays and Thursdays, when the usually-quiet highland settlement is ...
Market
Chichicastenango, Guatemala

Iximché

136191The word Iximché comes from the Mayan words Ixim, meaning maize and Ché, meaning tree and was once the Kaqchikel capital. Founded around 1470, in the shadow of the Ratzamut mountain and protected ...
Ruin
Tecpán, Guatemala

Hiking around Santiago

106614Santiago Atitlán is full of beautiful surrounding trails to hike. Routes lead to the top of each of the three nearby volcanoes, though due to robberies against tourists in the area it is necessary ...
Hiking
Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala

Indigino Nariz walk

105239This is an extension of the Cerro de la Cruz walk and is a bit of a toughie. The climb heads up the same path but take the left fork at the clearing to start heading up the big hill that towers over ...
Hiking
San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala

Culture Tour of San Juan

105238This tour gives you a chance to see how life works in these parts. Head to San Juan the same way as for the Cerro de la Cruz walk and meet the guide in town. He will take you to meet weavers, people ...
Cultural Tour
San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala
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