sacred-maya-place-laguna-chicabal-guatemala

Hiking to Laguna Chicabal – The Center of the Maya Cosmos

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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 Luguna 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 altars. CENTER: Maya girl on the sacred shores of Laguna 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.

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.

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

Travels in Guatemala – 2009


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