West of La Ventosa, the road steadily descends and you’ll soon start to see the explosively coloured traditional costume of the Todosanteros.

Spectacularly sited in its own deep-cut river valley, the small town of TODOS SANTOS CUCHUMATÁN is strung out along an elongated main street plotted with some venerable old wooden houses. It’s a pretty settlement, with a small plaza and a colonial-style whitewashed church, but the village is totally overwhelmed by the looming presence of the Cuchumatanes mountains which insulate Todos Santos from the rest of the world.

The depth of tradition evident here is startling. Men fill the streets with colour in their red-and-white-striped trousers, black woollen breeches, brilliantly embroidered shirt collars and natty straw hats; women wear dark blue cortes and superbly intricate purple huipiles. Todos Santos is one of the few places where people still use the 260-day Tzolkin calendar which dates back to ancient times. Highland traditions and the epic surroundings have long captivated visitors, and photographers in particular, though you should be wary of taking pictures of people – particularly children. In this isolated community rumours persist that some foreigners steal babies.

Todos Santos is a great place to simply hang out but it would be a shame not to try a traditional sauna (chuc) while you’re here – most guesthouses will prepare one for you. Note that Todos Santos has declared itself a dry town, so no alcohol is sold (except during the fiesta); Casa Familiar guests are exempt.

 

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Guatemala features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

In pictures: traditional dress around the world

In pictures: traditional dress around the world

The Sari, India Ostensibly the simplest item of clothing possible – a single length of fabric, up to nine metres long – the sari is also one of the world…

02 Feb 2015 • Alice Park camera_alt Gallery
20 fascinating second cities

20 fascinating second cities

Barcelona, Spain It's usually the capital cities that get all the attention, but what about a country's second city? These are twenty of our favourite second c…

02 Oct 2014 • Rebecca Hallett camera_alt Gallery
The best photography on Picfair: the locals

The best photography on Picfair: the locals

For the second piece in our "Best of Picfair" series, we take a look at locals around the world. From Haiti to Vietnam, here is some of the best travel photogra…

02 Sep 2014 • Lottie Gross insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month