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An update from Evaneos

Zunil (Guatemala)

Practical information about Zunil

  • Spa and massage
  • Place or Religious Monument
1 / 5 - One review
How to get there
30 by bus from Xela and 15 minutes by car
When to go
All year round
Minimum stay
A few hours

Reviews of Zunil

Travel writer
30 travel articles

An indigenous village, between Christianity and paganism, at the foot of the local volcano.

My suggestion:
Plan to spend a day shared between the Fuentes Georginas (located on the Zunil volcano) and a quick trip to the village... unmissable under any circumstances.

The town of Zunil isn't of much interest, except for its 17th-18th century church. I visited the village for the first time whilst I was climbing back down from the Fuentes Georginas (a route that every traveller to Guatemala has to take if they are passing by Xela), located on the volcano which the town is named after. Intrigued by the account of it in a very complete guidebook to Guatemala, unfortunately less well known than the age-old "Lonely" and "Routard" guidebooks, I went off in search of Maximón, a type of pagan saint (also called San Simón) to whom people ask for protection and favours. Up until this day, that remains one of the most... surreal moments of my life. It was only later, whilst interviewing an anthropologist, that I understood the issues of co-option and power that existed among the Brotherhood of Saint-Simon, a background totally ignored by tourists, who are happy to just pay to attend these rituals.

Living in Xela, I no longer go to Zunil except for relaxing breaks with family or with my wife, at the best of the thermal baths: Santa María, located along the road, close to the bridge which crosses a disgusting river, which gives quite a clear idea of how much the populations ignore ecological issues.

View of the façade of the Zunil cathedral