sacred-maya-place-laguna-chicabal-guatemala

Hiking to Laguna Chicabal – Center of the Maya Cosmos

Guatemala - 2009

At an altitude of 2712 meters, a lake sacred to the Maya hides in the crater of a volcano.

And this lake – Laguna Chicabal – is at the center of the Mam Maya cosmos; a place sacred to the Maya of Guatemala’s highlands.

Volcanic crater lake of Chicabal - sacred to the Mam Maya
Volcanic crater lake of Chicabal – sacred to the Mam Maya

It’s forbidden to wash, swim or fish in Laguna Chicabal – the sacred lake of the Mam Maya

Legend has it that once some men fished there and were sucked under the waters to disappear forever. (Sounds like a Stephen King horror.)

maya altar and sacred places luguna chicabal guatemala
Maya altars. CENTER: Maya girl on the sacred shores of Lake Chicabal.

When Mayan people go into the water to make shrines ( pic below ) they go only when tied / roped to someone else on the lakeshore … for safety.

The altar is a gateway to the Maya underworld – a place of spirits lurking beneath the lake

Maya shrine at sacred Lake Chicabal
Maya shrine at sacred Lake Chicabal.

Numerous altars – different places for blessings like better health, fertility or to forgive sins – circle the lake.

At these places, the Maya perform ceremonies, lighting fires and burning copal – pine gum incense – and offer alcohol, candies and cookies to the spirits.

Laguna Chicabal - an alluring beauty with dark secrets
Laguna Chicabal – an alluring beauty with dark secrets.

Chicabal Lake is 575 meters wide and 331 deep; a place of secrets, hidden by rainforest and mist

The hike up Chicabal Volcano to the lake takes about 2 hours from the nearest village.

The hike travels thru dense cloud-forest.

Misty rainforest hiking to Laguna Chicabal.
Misty rainforest hiking to Laguna Chicabal.

Mist usually blankets the lake and volcano by mid-morning – so, set off early if you want decent views!

Hiking views of the morning vista of nearby volcanoes in Guatemala on roue to Laguna Chicabal
Hiking views of the morning vista of nearby volcanoes in Guatemala.

A lucky clear morning view reveals 3 other volcanoes – including Santa Maria & the small, but active and regularly-erupting, Santiaguito Volcano.

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