At the foot of the mighty Cuchumatanes, HUEHUETENANGO is a departmental capital and the focus of trade and transport for a vast area of northwest Guatemala. Its atmosphere is provincial and pretty relaxed, though heavy traffic, much of which thunders through the town centre, reduces this appeal somewhat.

Before the arrival of the Spanish it was the site of one of the residential suburbs that surrounded the Mam capital of Zaculeu (the ruins of this site, just a few kilometres from town, are worth a visit). Under colonial rule it was a small regional centre with little to offer beyond a steady trickle of silver and a stretch or two of grazing land. Today the department is famous for its rich, complex high-quality coffee – which you’ll have ample opportunity to sample in the town’s cafés.

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