Cobán Travel Guide

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Cobán Things to Do

  • Semuc Champey Mirador

    Besides the pools, the hiking around Semuc Champey is absolutely fabulous. the area is permeated with lush jungles, rich flora and fauna that most people do not have the luxury of experiencing at home.There is a trail up to a lookout called El Mirador. This trail rises steeply along the valley walls, sometimes feeling like you're climbing rather...

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  • Semuc Champey Lagoons

    The Semuc Champey lagoons are probably the most famous landmark around Coban. These aquamarine pools are gorgeous, formed from limestone runoff of the nearby river. It is a gorgeous site to relax for a day. One can hike up to el mirador, a look out from the mountainside. Or just lay around in the pools. Or even, if you're feeling adventurous, hike...

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  • Candle-Lit Caving

    Las Grutas de Lanquin are the famous caves near the town of Lanquin, full of bats and interesting animal-like formations. However, for a real adventure treat, head towards Semuc Champey. Right before you cross the bridge, there is a sign for Bak Na caves. These caves involve scrambling over formations, on ladders, even swimming through dark pools...

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  • Walking the town.

    Coban is a good place to hang out, there are several streets with colonial buildings, and even some hints of the German past.

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  • Museo El Principe Maya.

    Is a small but interesting museum. A private collection with fine examples of mayan pottery, jewelry and a impressive stelae from Cancuen. There´s a Q15.00 fee to visit the exhibition.

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  • El Calvario Church.

    And old church built in 1810 and located in a hill, with great views of the city and the nearby park of Las Victorias, is maybe Coban´s most interesting sight.

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  • Walking around Market Areas

    Every market has a slightly different focus. The markets in Coban are less languorous than in Santa Elena, less hectically squeezed than in Antigua. Coban is a mountain town, and the produce on offer is a bit different too.

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  • The Central Plaza

    Coban's central plaza is lively and noisy. The dignified cathedral struggles for attention with an unbelievable "early school of Star Trek" gazebo.

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  • The Coban Calvario

    The Calvario represents the Stations of the Cross. For the tourist, it offers increasingly attractive views of the city as you climb up the hill. It is, reportedly, dangerous after dark.

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  • Cardamom, the Secret Crop of Coban

    Cardamom is wonderful. It's a spice that smells a little bit like Vick's, but nicer of course. It is used in Indian cooking, Arabian coffee, and European pastries. The smell of cardamom permeates Coban. Unlike coffee, cardamom is dried in dryers (it would rot otherwise). I went to talk to a dealer and he gave me a little baggie of seeds on the...

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  • Santa Margarita Coffee Tour - Part 3

    There are several crops being grown at the Finca Santa Margarita.Photo 1 - Sugar CanePhoto 2 - BananasPhoto 3 - Such an attractive oasis, near the center of town!Photo 4 - Avocado TreePhoto 5 - Tiny but super-hot little chili peppers

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  • Santa Margarita Coffee Tour - Part 2

    Photo 1 - The worker roasts the beans carefully, not by smell or by time but by color. Same beans for espresso and regular, but the espresso beans are roasted to a darker point.Photo 2 - Traditional Guatemala coffee bag.Photo 3 - Packed coffee, ready to go (for sale $3 a pound).Photo 4 - SamplePhoto 5 - No splashy entrance. And the door is locked...

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  • Santa Margarita Coffee Tour - Part 1

    There are several coffee tours in Coban. The easiest one to catch is right in town. Photo 1: Coffee beans ripening.Photo 2: Discarded pulp (will be recycled as mulch and fertilizer).Photo 3: Peeling machine, followed by an agitated bath.Photo 4: On the left, the best coffee drying. On the right, the lesser coffee (separated through flotation) which...

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  • People of Coban

    Coban is a Mayan industrial city with some interesting photography on the street. I spent time walking around and taking pictures of the men and women in their traditional dress. The bright colors of the buildings provide a great background.

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  • Hike up to the El Calvario Church

    The cobbled path leading uphill to the El Calvario is intimidatingly steep and steals one's breath, but vendors and parisoners do it regularly, so I figured I should too. At the top, I got some great shots of the Church, the people, and the city of Coban. I didn't take images of the Church interior, but it wasn't as grand as some churches in...

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Cobán Restaurants

  • La Posada Restaurant.

    La Posada is Coban´s best restaurant. I also visited a nice, clean and cheap place called El Chino with local specialities as Kak-Ic (a soup made with turkey) and Subanik.

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  • Best Meal in Guatemala

    I was about to write off Guatemala food altogether - and the service too - when I saw El Penascal while walking around Coban. I went back at night and a kind server took me in hand, watching over me like a mother. The Pollo En Jocon was truly delicious: a chicken leg in a green tomato and spinach sauce, served with avocado mousse. Yum-my!

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  • Breakfast and Desert at La Posada

    La Posada is a colonial style hotel with a center patio area. Down a tiled hallway, and to the right was a nice restaurant with a very nice outdoor seating. A garden provided color while a adobe wall cut off the traffic noise. The food was excellent. I ate the traditional eggs, potatoes, fresh tropical fruit, and pineapple juice. We visited twice...

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Cobán Transportation

  • Going to Flores?

    First advice ... don't take the shuttle vans! You'll feel totally ripped off!!But, you can start taking vans and buses telling them you're going to Flores ... so they will make your conexions much faster.Anyway, this is the route you'll mostly have to follow. From Coban to Raxruja (Q$ 20) ... it's faster if you avoid goinig all the way to Raxruja...

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  • Going to Lanquin!?

    There are some minibuses departing a few block north/north-east of the Parque Central ... the tickets cost Q$ 25.I can remember exactly where the bus company is, but if you ask around... people know it, it's a small town.

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  • Reaching Coban from the Peten

    I wanted to see not only the ruins of the Peten, most notably Tikal and El Ciebal, but also the Mayan culture of the upper highlands, where Coban, Uspantan, and Lago de Atitlan are located. However, I didn't want to take the route that led through Guatemala City and the touristy, albeit pleasant, Antigua. At the time Lonely Planet and other guide...

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Cobán Local Customs

  • atufft's Profile Photo

    by atufft Updated Jan 8, 2007

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The walk up to El Calvario (see my things to do tip on this) presents not only a great panoramic view of the valley where Coban is located, but an opportunity to appreciate the Mayan variant of catholic ritual. The hilltop also has a cemetary, and upon further contemplation it will occur to many a visitor such as myself that prior to the establishment of a church here, the hilltop may well have been a place of Mayan pagan worship. The steep stairs leading up to it are not unlike a Mayan temple climb. The outside of the church building has the curious relief of a sun and other symbols not typical of conventional Christianity. Inside church illumination is by candle light, at least at the time I had visited. Parishoners seems especially protective of this place of worship relative to the larger cathedral adjacent to Coban's zocalo. Women genuflected to arrangments of candles and flowers outside the building. Seeing a row of white veils trotting down the hill, I realized had arrived just after someone's first communion.

    Just After First Communion Stairs to El Calvario Women genuflect outside the church Parishoners descend the steps from El Calvario Mayan parishoners just outside the church
    Related to:
    • Religious Travel
    • Historical Travel
    • Hiking and Walking

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Cobán Warnings and Dangers

  • by Klangbadender Updated Aug 7, 2010

    Many backpackers and visitors in general like to stay in dormitories. Rooms for 4 or more people.
    Now:

    1. never leave belongings of higher value in your room alone. never. i bet you knew that. everybody can take a look in your room without your knowledge.

    2. never sleep without securing your belongings (ask for a safe and a signature/bill) if possible secure lockers with your own lock. if ther will be no other posibility sleep with your most important stuff in your bed.

    the reason for this advise is that we got robbed in coban in the CASA DE ACUNA. a guy went into the room, where we had a siesta ad 2 pm. he asked us where we are from and began to take of his clothing. he blocked our view with 2 towels and robbed us silently. we didnt recognize until 3 hours later. result: 6 stolen visa- and mastercards, 2 cameras stolen. after the 3 hours he already got 900 $ with a card that wasnt even activated and not permitted to use with a signature, but with a pincode.

    good luck and travel safe

    ps. u simply cant know who you can trust (includes employees and police); at least there will be no help

    yours martin

    Related to:
    • Backpacking
    • Budget Travel
    • Singles

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