Western Highlands

Cool pine forests and views abound in this high-altitude region.
Elevation: 2400m (7877ft.)
Highest Point: Volcán Santa Maria 3,772m (12,375ft)
Average Temperature:

14°C / 56°F

Elevation: 2400m (7877ft.)
Highest Point: Volcán Santa Maria 3,772m (12,375ft)
Average Temperature:

14°C / 56°F

“Highlands” is a loose term to describe the stretch of land encompassing the indegeious heartland of Guatemala including Quetzaltenango, Quiché and Totonicapán.

The area has a very diverse topography with high, dry pine forests, deep canyons and rivers and lush farmland and pasture.  The 3,782m summit of Volcán Santa Maria presides over Xela the 2nd most populated city in the country.

To the east rise the 3000m mountain chain of Maria Tecun, with dispersed ridges and vallies which spider throughout Quiche. To the west borders Auguacatan and the 3600m summits of the Cuchumatanes.

Highlights

High Altitude = cool, clear weather with average yearly temps in the 50's.

Deep Canyons and valleys - sparse pine forests - numerous secondary forest roads connect a network of Mayan Viallages.

Heartland of the K'iche Maya.

Highlights

High Altitude = cool, clear weather with average yearly temps in the 50's.

Deep Canyons and valleys - sparse pine forests - numerous secondary forest roads connect a network of Mayan Viallages.

Heartland of the K'iche Maya.

Dry Season

Dry

Wet Season

Wet

Warmest Month

May

High:

22°C / 70°F

May

High:

22°C / 70°F

Coolest Month:

January

Low:

3°C / 37°F

January

Low:

3°C / 37°F

The topography within 2 miles of Quetzaltenango contains very significant variations in elevation, with a maximum elevation change of 1,667 feet and an average elevation above sea level of 7,937 feet.

Within 10 miles contains very significant variations in elevation (8,730 feet). Within 50 miles also contains extreme variations in elevation (13,839 feet).

Quetzaltenango is home to many mountain and road bike national champions in Guatemala – and is the training ground for the Olympic cycling team. With reason! – The high altitude, numerous trails surrounding the city as well as enormous climb up to the summit of the pan american highway at 3300m makes it the perfect training ground.

Beyond the repetitively flat plains of Quetzaltenango rise the mountains oft Totonicapán with a treasure trove of forest roads to explore. The Communtiy protected forests of Parcilidad Valasquez are the largest protected pine forests in all of Central America.

This is an arid part of the country outside of the 4 month rainy season. The hard and rocky soil make rise to sparse pine forests with little undergrowth.  The riding is hardpack / adobe with rough descents – enormous 300m deep canyons in Quiché can take you by surprise.

With its elevation the weather in the Highlands is often cool to cold – bring your jacket!

Gallery

History

The history in Quiche runs deep with the 1000 year old ruins of Q’umarkaj and Gumarkaaj right outside of the city. The area has long been the capital of the K’iche’ Maya and was one of the most powerful and rich Mayan cities at the time of the Spanish Conquest.

Today Quiche is home to Escarabajos Quiche a local mountain bike team . The possibility for mountain biking in this region are endless with high mountain summits and deep valleys affording the possibility of several 1000m continuous descents. The local agriculture is primarily sewn and harvested by hand and many Mayan communities live off the grid connected by a network of footpaths.

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