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San Juan Chamelco

Within 8km southeast of Cobán is the biggest Q’eqchi Mayan village in the area. The most prominent landmark in town is Iglesia San Juan, said to be the first church built in Alta Verapaz; German influence can be seen from the Hapsburg eagle on the church’s façade. In front of the church stands a statue of Don Juan Matalbatz, a local chief who had refused to bow before Spanish King Carlos V. He believed that a king should not stoop before another king. Carlos V respected him, and named Cobán “the Imperial City”.

Walking 1km east from the central park, you will find a starkly different landscape of pines trees, plush houses and ranches. Popular with families, El Pueblito (Barrio Santa Ana, Zona 2; Tel: (502) 7951-4162) makes a great vacation place, with charming cottages and activities such as mini-golf and go-karts to indulge in. Further down the road is Rancho Santa Fe (; Tel: (502) 7950-0365) with opportunities to go horseback-riding and fishing. Restaurant Nim-Peck (; Tel: (502) 7950-0377 Open Fri-Sun Noon-8p.m.; Price range $1.2-9.3) is a gorgeous oasis of greenery. There is outdoor seating in a garden veranda; eating under hanging orchids and vines makes this gastronomic experience a surreal one.

To get there from Cobán, take a microbus ($0.30) from the terminal at 4a Calle Zona 3.


Other neighborhoods in Cobán: San Cristóbal Verapaz, Tactic, Sachichaj Waterfalls, Balneario Las Islas, Grutas Rey Marcos and San Pedro Carchá.

By Nellie Huang
29 Sep 2009

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