The crater lake Laguna de Chicabal is located in the department of Quetzaltenango in Guatemala. The volcano Chicabal and the crater lake are surrounded by cloud forest and lush green nature. It is a humid place with an average degree of 17°C year round. The crater lake and the volcano are rich in flora and fauna and one of the last ecosystems of this kind in the Quetzaltenango region and is therefore a protected area. In the cloud forest, you can find many endangered species of birds, like the Quetzal, the national bird of Guatemala.
In 1956, the volcano and the lake were a declared protected area and in 1970 it became recognised as a pre-Hispanic monument. Since 1997, it is also acknowledged as a religious and ceremonial center, as the lake is a holy and spiritual place for the Mam Maya. The Laguna de Chicabal is not a very frequented place by tourists. As a result it could conserve its nature and spiritual energy. However, it is also more difficult to get there.
From the entrance and visitor center, you can walk one kilometer to the viewpoint and admire a fantastic view over the lake. This is when you come early in the morning, when the air is still clear and the crater still cloudless. Later, you can walk down the never ending steps towards the lake. It is a mystic place surrounded by green hills, with the fog coming down from the mountains, passing over the lake and ascending again up in the sky.
Walking around the lake, you will find many Mayan altars inside the water or around the shore of the lake. During the spiritual ceremonies, the Mam Maya decorate the wooden crosses with colourful flowers as offerings for their creator. This is one of the most typical and prettiest sights of the lake, so you should definitely make a tour around the lake in order to find one of the altars. As the lake is a spiritual and religious Mayan center, it is also prohibited to bathe and to swim in the lake. During May, it is not allowed for tourists to visit the lake, as it is reserved for the Mam Maya to practice their religious ceremonies and to get in contact with their creator through nature.
You can take a public bus from Quetzaltenango to San Martin Chile Verde, where you need to get off. Here you need to ask, how to get to the entrance of the Laguna Chicabal. Either you walk the very long and steep road to the entrance or you search for the red pick-up which will get you there. From the entrance you can walk to the viewpoint and around the lake, or again you can use the service of the pick-up.