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EXPLORE - Guias Ixiles

Half & Single Day Hikes / Multiple Day Hikes

The Ixil Region
Relatively untouched by tourism, the Ixil Region is one of the most beautiful and fascinating areas of Guatemala. There are several short but enjoyable hikes that begin in Nebaj, the principal town of the region. For the more adventurous traveler, however, overnight hikes into the mountains reveal breath-taking scenery and offer a glimpse of life in rural villages where Mayan peoples of the Quiche and Ixil descent live.

Guías Ixiles
Guías Ixiles is a local ecotourism business devoted to helping travelers explore the natural wonders of the Guatemalan highlands.  We offer a wide range of services including guided tours of Nebaj and hikes in the nearby Chuchamatan Mountains. Our hiking trips range from leisurely half-day strolls through local villages to intense three-day treks through the rugged mountains. Whether you are a casual nature lover or a wilderness enthusiast, we have just the trip you are looking for. We can also design custom-made trips for individuals and groups to any part of the Guatemalan highlands.

Half & Single Day Hikes
Note: The difficulty of the hike is ranked from 1- 5, with 5 being the most difficult. Estimated hike durations do not include transportation times.

Cataratas (Cascados)
Take a scenic hike to a waterfall just outside of Nebaj. The walk is easily accessible by foot from the main town. It is fairly flat and offers a view of green pastures and rolling hills along the way. Walking northward, Nebaj's urban features thin out into the countryside as hikers enter the main path and follow the river through cow pastures alongside dense, tree-topped hills.  Further up the dirt path, the hills climb higher and the river widens.  After the first kilometer, hikers discover a small waterfall, only 5 meters or 16 feet high. This waterfall is quite accessible to anyone willing to get a little wet.  Following the dirt path farther into a steep valley, hikers begin to hear an immense roar as they curve around a cornfield, behind which exists a powerful yet beautiful waterfall reaching 20 meters or 65 feet high.

Profile:
Difficulty: 1
Duration: 2 hours (half day)
Distance: 3 km

Sacred Sights
More of a tour than a hike, the Sacred Sights is a guided excursion to the various Mayan religion sights hidden around Nebaj. These locations are unknown to travelers.  Therefore, only local guides with local insight can find and explain the real meaning of these sacred sights.

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Difficulty: 1
Duration: 2 hours (half day)
Distance: N/A                                    


La Pista
The hike from Nebaj to La Pista crosses beautiful green pastures with a number of views of the rivers and mountains in the area. First established as an army post, La Pista was tremendously affected by the Guatemalan civil war and was, in fact, named for its landing strip used by army aircrafts. Today, La Pista is home to a growing community with a desire to succeed. Unlike other hikes, travelers to La Pista are rewarded with Boxboles, the traditional hallmark meal of the Ixil region. This vegetarian dish is simple but delicious. Local legend holds that when a stranger consumes these local delicacies they become enamored of the Ixil region and will continue to visit the area for the rest of their life.

Profile            
Difficulty: 1
Duration: 3 hours (half day)
Distance: 3 km

Acul
Take a hike to Guatemala’s finest cheese factory! The first half of the trail climbs to the top of a mountain along which hikers enjoy breath-taking views of Nebaj shrinking in the distance. Wear sneakers, bring water and prepare to break a sweat – the steep ascent will take about an hour. After reaching the peak, hikers then welcome the descent back down a rocky dirt path into the town of Acul.  Follow directions to the cheese factory, situated across tall, tree-blanketed mountains. Founded by an Italian family, it offers group dinners and cozy wooden bungalows for road-weary travelers. Watch out for the cows and sheep that graze freely in this small farming community. 

Profile
Difficulty: 2
Duration: 5 hours (one day)
Distance: 6 km


Cocop
Weave along the Nebaj River through a narrow valley to the mountain top hamlet of Cocop. This is an incredibly peaceful hike that gives you a taste of authentic village life in the Northern Highlands. The trail offers some great bird's eye views of Nebaj. Don't forget to try the local "cuxa" (moonshine) created right there in Cocop.

Profile
Difficulty: 1
Duration: 3-4 hr (one day)
Distance: 9 km  

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Multiple Day Hikes
Note: The difficulty of the hike is ranked from 1- 5, with 5 being the most difficult. Estimated hike durations do not include transportation times.

Las Aventuras
Las Aventuras, or the Adventures in English, is a hike for the true nature enthusiast.  As hikers exit Nebaj, the green canopy of the highland forest surrounds and swallows them. The narrow trail through this thickly wooded area is tight, but after emerging from this natural maze, the broad vistas of the surrounding mountains welcome their visitors. After reaching Las Majadas, hikers can visit the three beautiful neighboring lagoons and relax in the modest but comfortable lodgings.  The second day’s hike brings travelers to Acul, where they can stay for the evening, visit the famous cheese factories and then trek back to Nebaj the following morning.  For anyone anxious to return to Nebaj, it is possible to catch a bus back from Acul if hikers reach Acul early enough on the second day.  There are no villages on the way from Nebaj to Las Majadas, or from Las Majadas to Acul, so be sure to take sufficient water and food.

Profile
Difficulty: 4
Duration: 2 days – can be completed over 3 days upon request
Distance: 25-36 km

Xeo-Cotzol
This route passes through several of the most isolated villages in the Ixil region, offering the most direct hands-on contact with traditional Mayan culture.  On the first day, hikers spend most of the time climbing and descending mountain pathways. The first night can either be spent in Xeo or Cotzol, depending how quickly hikers decide to travel. It is also possible to spend a night in each town if travelers prefer to hike at a slower pace and spend more time visiting each village. Be sure to visit “Finca la Vega” located below Xeo, where local people produce cheese, mushrooms, and cream. Don't forget to take a camera as this route offers numerous panoramic views of the Nebaj valley. On the way back, consider visiting the nearby village of La Pista where many Guías Ixiles employees reside.

Profile
Difficulty: 3
Duration: 13 hours over 2 days – can be completed over 3 days upon request
Distance: 37km

Todos Santos                                                                                         
This is our most popular and rewarding hike, but also the most challenging! There are numerous routes to Todos Santos from Nebaj, but our preferred route avoids major roads and highways. Instead, hikers are lead through hidden mountain passes and flowered highland plains.  After visiting "la laguna," a crystal clear mountain lake, and clearing the steep trail above Palop, travelers will enter a vast extent of green pastureland surrounded by rocky hills. Before settling into the second night's lodging in Capellania, it is worth the time to make an extra trip to "El Mirador." From there, hikers can get a bird's eye view of Huehuetenango and, if they are lucky, see the active volcano of San Marcos erupting at night. The next day's hike, from Capellania to La Ventosa, is absolutely stunning. Hikers ramble along the banks of a small river as it winds its way through a broad highland valley covered with green grasses and wild flowers. Upon reaching La Ventosa, hikers can choose to take a bus directly to Todos Santos or continue hiking down along the "Río Limón" or the "Sierra de los Cuchumantanes." Take warm heavy clothes, even in summertime, as the majority of the highland plains are more than 3000 meters above sea level.

Profile
Difficulty: 4-5
Duration: 10-18.5 hours over 3 days
Distance: 35-55 km

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