Chicabal Lagoon is one of the most important sacred sites in the Mayan world. The lagoon, is within a volcano of the same name, and it is the main natural and cultural heritage of San Martín Sacatepéquez, also known as San Martín Chile Verde. San Martín Sacatepéquez belongs to the 24 municipalities in the department of Quetzaltenango, in the western highlands of Guatemala. The majority of the population of the municipality of San Martín Sacatepéquez are indigenous from the Maya Mam tribe.
For the Mam tribe, the volcano and the lagoon are sacred and miraculous place. Annually, 40 days after Easter, hundreds of people visit the lagoon to take part in praying ceremony for rain. Mayan priests perform traditional sacrificial ceremonies along the shore using candles, flowers and holy crosses. In this place, Mam tribe combines spirituality with the natural environment of the amazing mountain scenery, the beautiful lake and the mystical cloud forest.
The Chicabal Volcano and Lagoon are at a height of 2,712 meters above sea level, with an area of 19.14 hectares and a depth of almost 33 meters. It is one of the highest elevations in Central America, and one of the last cloud forests in Guatemala. In Mayan Mam language, Chicabal means “thunder”, adding to that, the sound produced inside the crater during storms is where the name of the place originated.
It is an ideal destination for adventure lovers, nature enthusiasts and aficionados of Mayan culture. This mystical place is rich with unique flora and fauna ecosystem, Here, you can find Quetzals, pink headed warbler and horned guans that are important species for birdwatchers. The shape of the Laguna and the fog that shrouds the volcano add to the mysticism of the place.
Because of its importance, the site is recognized as Prehispanic Monument in 1972 and as a Sacred Place of the Mayan in 1997. Since 1999, a local association ASAECO (Asociación de Agricultores Ecológicos de La Laguna de Chicabal) have been dedicated to the protection and conservation of natural and cultural elements of the place. Along the banks of the lagoon, there are different altars used by the Mayan priests. For this reason, they do not allow tourists visits in early May, since the most important ceremonies are celebrated at that time. It is also prohibited to swim or bathe in the lagoon because of its spiritual value. Currently, ASAECO is dedicated in promoting responsible tourism to value, to respect and to enjoy priceless natural areas and cultural events that has an ancient origin taking place in the Volcano and Laguna de Chicabal.
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