The Western Highlands of Guatemala have quickly become the centerpiece of luxury Guatemala travel—a vivid unfolding of natural beauty and folkloric display stretching from the outskirts of Antigua all the way to the Mexican border. Rugged mountain scenery, defined by chains of epic volcanoes to the south and the high Cuchamatanes Mountains to the north, flank a series of hot springs and beautiful lakes that have served as the high-altitude home for the Maya people for more than two thousand years. This is the cradle of the living, authentic Maya, where Maya dialects outnumber Spanish speakers and ancient Maya rituals take precedent inside grand colonial churches. Indeed, it is the only place in the world where indigenous pre-Columbian tradition blends so fervently with the Spanish conqueror customs.

The strength of local Maya folklore and tradition is perhaps most vividly exhibited during the weekly market of Chichicastenango, widely considered the largest and most colorful native market in all of the Americas. Each Thursday and Sunday, thousands of Quiche Mayan vendors from all over Guatemala journey to “Chichi” to buy and sell their products amid a cacophony of color, dialects, and costumes. Brilliantly-hued hand-woven textiles, fearsome wooden masks, gold and purple maize, flowers arranged in color blocked patterns, succulent smoke emitting from makeshift grills, and women forming a never-ending supply of stone-ground tortillas are all expressions of Chichicastenango’s international allure and the definition of luxury Guatemala travel.

Nature’s response to the cultural appeal of Chichicastenango is certainly Lake Atitlán, once described as “the most beautiful lake in the world” by writer Aldous Huxley. Framed by three stunning volcanoes rising above its emerald surface, Lake Atitlán offers arguably the best spot to take in the Guatemalan sunset and a unique opportunity to interact with the indigenous villages flanking its shores. The area is also a formidable challenge for avid hikers.

Within the Guatemala Western Highlands, indigenous life follows its own rhythms amid the fantastic mountain landscapes. Luxury Guatemala travel through the Western Highlands with Ker & Downey promises unforgettable memories, such as meeting a Maya weaver to learn about the techniques and dyes passed on from generation to generation and visiting the Post Classic Mayan site of Iximche to participate in an ancient Mayan blessing ceremony. Contact Ker & Downey today to incorporate the Guatemala Western Highlands into your customized journey to Latin America.