Laguna Chicabal is an easy volcano to climb in preparation for Volcan Santa Maria. With a lake inside its crater, find out if it deserves to be #1 on TripAdvisor’s list of Things to Do in Quetzaltenango.
How to get to Laguna Chicabal
If you are looking into Laguna Chicabal, and are not sure if you should pay for a tour or go independently, then we here at DIY Travel HQ can assure you that it is an easy day trip from Xela that you can do by yourself.
To tackle this Xela hike, take a colectivo (Q6) from the intersection of 7a Calle and 15 Avenida in Xela and ask to get off at Laguna Chicabal.
The vans will probably read Chile Verde, and be waiting in the opposite direction (south side) of San Martin and Laguna Chicabal.
They start running at 6 am. It is possible to catch a colectivo back to Xela (Quetzaltenango) from where the colectivo drops you off.
* Don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before any trip to Guatemala. We’ve been using World Nomads for over 10 years – it’s the best-value provider we’ve found but there are important things to consider. Check out our post & find out which of our claims were successful or denied.
Laguna Chicabal: Xela Hike Without a Tour
The colectivo will drop you off at a four-way intersection in San Martin.
Your natural inclination is to go right and up, but you actually need to go left and down.
This is the only confusing part of the Xela hike to Laguna Chicabal.
The rest of the hike can be followed by posted signs.
In case the signs go missing, you first follow the road left and down, over two bridges, and make a left at the intersection.
Make your first right where the sign indicates. Then make your first left.
This road will then take you to Laguna Chicabal, and pass a Tienda on the way.
Maps.me is a great offline app that shows the trail all the way to the top.
About halfway, once you pass through the village and hike up an unpaved road, you will come across the entrance to Laguna Chicabal (Q25 / $3.45).
This will be identifiable by the red corrugated roofs in the middle of farms.
From there, continue heading up the unpaved road until you reach a fork in the road.
Your two options at the fork in the road are to visit the mirador, or head down to Laguna Chicabal’s waters.
Although both options form a loop, we recommend visiting the mirador first before clouds roll in.
Laguna Chicabal Mirador
Upon reaching the Laguna Chicabal mirador, it is evident that this natural attraction is not that special – there are plenty of better places to visit in Guatemala.
In fact Volcan Santa Maria is the better Xela hike.
Unfortunately, Laguna Chicabal is an average lake that you are not allowed to swim in!
Simply follow the path on the right past the mirador, and descend the plethora of stairs to the lake.
In the early morning, the lake does offer nice reflection pictures as the water is dead calm.
However, the highlights were watching locals pray, and seeing all the Mayan ritual offerings.
Scattered around the lake perimeter were signs educating visitors on Mayan hieroglyphs.
Several spots also featured circular rocks where candles were lit, with flowers lining the lake shore.
In a conglomeration with Christianity, there was one cross placed in Laguna Chicabal.
On the right side of the lake was a family praying to their gods.
They were on all fours, and facing away from Laguna Chicabal.
It seems like locals account for the majority of visitors, as we only saw a handful of tourists on this Xela hike.
To complete the loop, take the path to the left of the stairs.
It is a steady climb back to the crater rim, but more enjoyable as you are closer to nature.
At the top, continue following the path until you return to the Y.
You should then be able to return the same way you came.
How to Avoid the Laguna Chicabal Entrance Fee
As I mentioned earlier, the entrance is identifiable by red corrugated roofs in the middle of farms.
We arrived early, followed the road, and no one from the office bothered to stop us to pay the entrance fee. A gentleman tried to inform us to head there, but we pretended to not speak Spanish and kept on walking.
Having avoided the entrance fees on the way in, we certainly didn’t want to pay them after we saw everything.
Therefore, we snuck around the back of the buildings, and cut through farms to the main road. The park workers tend to stay close to the road and may not notice you.
If you really want to avoid the fee on this Xela hike, it is best to take the round-about-way in both directions. Good luck!
Laguna Chicabal Hike Security
Laguna Chicabal felt like a safe hike in Guatemala.
The first half was through a village filled with farms and businesses.
There was even a school where we saw kids racing Hula Hoops downhill.
This was followed by a more remote hike along an unpaved road.
However, I feel that the entrance midway improves the security.
Although isolated incidents do happen in Guatemala, I wouldn’t worry much about hiking Laguna Chicabal without a tour.
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***The Final Word – There really is no reason to take on the Xela hike to Laguna Chicabal, unless you have a lot of spare time ***
Why do calm places always get good reviews on TripAdvisor?
Easy DIY travel outside city centres using public transport
Visited August 2016