On the Road Guatemala: Hiking in Nebaj, Cuchumatanes

By Claire Bourgin

Nebaj is a small town in the Cuchumatanes mountains in the northwest of Guatemala and situated in the Ixil Triangle. Last December, I organized a hiking trip there with friends.

Our guide Nicolas was a man in his 50s and a local farmer speaking Ixil and Spanish. Our first stop was the village of Xeo to have lunch with a family. Their only access is by foot or horse. For lunch we had a soup with noodles, an egg and some tortillas. That would be our main food for the next 2 days. We soon understood why the guide office told us to bring some extra food!

We continued climbing the hill to the village of Vicalama, where we spent the first night. It was a 3-hour hike on a dusty track with a limited view as it was very cloudy and foggy.

We came upon a local house with two rooms, one serving as bedroom and living room and one for the kitchen where they cook on a fire lighted in the middle of the room. Being at 2800 meters, the cold arrived as soon as night fell, and we were happy to warm ourselves. The latrine was in the back of the garden in a small hut. For dinner we had a soup of frijoles and tortillas. We all slept in the same room, two per bed with the guide on the floor. Well, we wanted some adventure, didn’t we? I hardly slept because of the cold. We were then up at 5:30 am to start our second day of hiking.

We left to go to Cotzol, another village a two-hour hike away. We hiked up to 3000 meter, to have a nice view on the valley. Then the rain started and followed us almost the rest of the trek. We had breakfast in Cotzol. I’ll let you guess what we eat ! A soup with noddles and an egg, with tortillas of course! The last 3 hours were the hardest. Climbing down the mountain on a muddy trail in the rain with nothing in our stomachs (the breakfast was far behind). We arrived in Nebaj wet and muddy but we did it!! 37 km in 2 days…not bad !

Want to hike around Nebaj? Check the Ixil Guides Web site: http://www.nebaj.com/ixilguides.htm

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