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Departamento Del Quiché

The department of El Quiché is located right in the center of Guatemala, between the Highlands and Verapaces, and home to Chichicastenango, the K’umarkaaj Mayan ruins and gateway to the Ixil Triangle, making it an important destination on most visitors’ itineraries.

The south, including Chichicastenango and its famous market, is more accessible and heavily populated. At the center of the department is Santa Cruz del Quiché, the administrative capital, and the site of the former K’iche’ capital Utatlán. To the north is Sacapulas, at the source of the Río Negro, from where the landscape becomes increasingly desolate rising to meet the dramatic Cuchumatanes mountain range and beyond that the lowland plains of the Ixcán.

The area does have rather a dark history, however, as it was here where locals turned to guerrilla warfare in face of shocking state repression as government forces targeted and killed thousands of Mayan locals from the 1970s to the 1990s. Catholic priests, who were often linked to the rebels, were also killed and the church withdrew all its representatives in 1981. The area remains a Mayan strong hold to this day and is full of traditional villages with superb fiestas and distinctive costumes.

The roads around Quiché can be very quiet particularly on the lonely routes up into the Cuchumatanes. It is advisable to travel in a group and have planned your route beforehand knowing where you will to go and how. Quiché is at the crossroads of many places of interest to travellers, meaning that once you have sampled the department’s delights you can cross east towards Uspantán and onto to the ruins at Cobán, north to the remote towns of Nebaj, San Juan Cotzal and Chajul for some trekking, or west to Huehuetenango and up to Todos Santos via Aguacatán.


Other places nearby Departamento Del Quiché: Tzununá, Santa Cruz La Laguna, San Juan La Laguna, Jaibalito, San Juan Comalapa, Acul, Chajul, Uspantán, Santa Cruz La Laguna and San Pedro La Laguna.

By Joanne Sykes

Born and raised in Yorkshire, England, Jo is currently working as a freelance travel writer in Latin America. With degrees in...

14 Nov 2009

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