Any fan of LoTR knows or has heard of Hobbiton in New Zealand. But did you know Guatemala has its own Hobbiton? About 20 minutes drive out of Antigua, Guatemala, high in the mountainside sits Hobbitenango.
It had the iconic round doors and grass-covered roofs but the real magic is the view and the feeling of being on the clouds at 7,800 feet (2,400m) above sea level.
It was a Friday afternoon and not at all busy so we were able to have lunch in a private Hobbit-hole. If you’re going, I’d suggest you make a reservation ahead of time.
Here’s how to get there and how much it costs.
We took an Uber from Antigua Q68 / USD$8.80 return.
Entry tickets for Hobbitenango (this includes transport from the parking lot up the hill and access to games and activities there) Q50 / USD$6.50 each.
Lunch and drinks for two Q221 / USD$28.70.
Note: if you go on the weekend there is a breakfast buffet.
Altamira is a seperate attraction to Hobbitenango but it is the same location so we’d definitely checkout seeing both.
Altamira has not one but two hands that you can walk out and take a photo on with the most spectacular view behind you. It also has minigolf, sculptures and its own restaurant to check out.
Chichicastenango (or Chichi for short) is a town in the highlands of Guatemala. Surrounded by valleys and small Pueblos (towns), Chichi comes alive every Thursday and Sunday to host Guatemala’s largest outdoor market.
The market is configured around a 400-year-old church, Santo Tomás which was built atop a Pre-Columbian temple platform. The steps originally led to a temple of the pre-Hispanic Maya civilization and K’iche’.
Maya priests still use the church for their rituals, burning incense and candles.
Fun fact: K’iche’ is one of the largest Mayan linguistic groups. Read more about K’iche’ here.
What can you buy at Chichicastenango Market?
Watch the video here ↓
At the market you’ll find all kinds of handicrafts, food, flowers, pottery, medicinal plants, candles, copal (traditional incense) like that burning in front of the church as well as pigs and chickens all for sale.
Chichi is well known for its handicrafts, mainly textiles such as women’s blouses or huipils (pronounced wee-peels). Here you can buy new and vintage huipils. You even buy huipils that have been recycled into quilts (spoiler alert we couldn’t resist and bought one despite only going to “look”).
We expected to see plenty of textiles and were grateful for it – they are so colourful and beautiful but what we didn’t expect was the abundance of masks. We visited a mask maker in Chichicastenango. A lot of the masks are used by dancers in traditional dances, such as the ‘Dance of the Conquest’, during the Santo Tomás festival in December.
The ‘Dance of the Conquest’ is a traditional folkloric dance from Guatemala. During the dance participants adorned by elaborate costumes and masks reenact the invasion led by Spanish conquistador Pedro de Alvarado and his confrontation with Tecun Uman, ruler of K’iche’ kingdom of Q’umarkaj.
The festival is a blending of K’iche’ Mayan and Christian traditions. The entire K’iche’ tribe is long since Christian, yet Mayan ceremonies and many of its ancient rites and beliefs persist in daily life.
Pretty cool right?! We love making these unexpected discoveries and learning as much as we can everywhere we go. If you’re the same make sure you stop into a mask manufacturer if you visit Chichi to see these beautiful costumes, masks and hear their story.
Getting to Chichicastenango Market
Getting to Chichicastenango Market from Lake Atitlan is easy. We took a tourist shuttle from San Pedro La Laguna, it cost the equivalent of $20USD hours and took 1.5hours.
You can also take the shuttle from Panajachel.
Or for the brave, the slightly longer, cheaper way to do it is to take a chicken bus from Panajachel. We took the shuttle for convenience but if you want to do as the locals do and make it more of an adventure we found this guide here really informative.
Have you been to Chichi market? Tell us what you loved most!
The cross into Guatemala from San Cris was relatively easy and a well trekked route but there are a few extra precautions to take due to Covid. Save this post if you plan on taking this trip yourself.
Here’s how to do it:
🎫 Purchase a shuttle ticket in San Cristobal de Las Casas and be sure to do this in advance – they are currently doing limited trips.
🦠 Get a PCR or Antigen test for Covid-19 no more than 72 hours before you are due to cross the border. Make sure you have TWO printed copies of the test with you.
You’ll be picked up from your accomodation in San Cris between 8 – 9am depending on how many people they have to pick up before you. Make sure you are ready to go at 8am, they won’t wait!
You’ll drive for two hours then make a stop at an Oxxo for food and the bathroom if you need it.
Next stop is Mexican immigration. Here they’ll check you haven’t overstayed your visa, if you’re a tourist, and they’ll stamp you out of Mexico. If you have overstayed they’ll charge you a fee.
Now you’ll drive 10 – 15 minutes to the Guatemalan border. You’re going to change shuttles here so you’ll need to carry your bags from the parking lot across the border to the immigration office in Guatemala – it’s only about 300 meters.
At immigration in Guatemala first you’ll enter a temporary building and hand over your Covid test results. They’ll also take your temperature and ask a few questions. Once this is done they’ll give you a note to take to the official immigration office.
The immigration officer will take a copy of your test results, the note from the Covid checker person and issue your visa. We are kiwi and American and both got 90 day visas, free.
Once you’re all cleared by immigration it’s time to get into your new shuttle and drive the rest of the way to your destination in Guatemala. We went to Panajachel, and after clearing customs, it was roughly a 6 hour drive with one stop for food. We arrived in Panajachel at 8pm, exactly 12 hours after we left San Cris