‘‘I heard of this village more than a year ago and I could not resist then to find the place that much curiosity was aroused in me by the stories they already had in Antigua Guatemala its trails, spectacular views of the Colonial City’’
I begin this story enjoying a cup of coffee that I bought from a café in the village square of San Cristóbal El Alto, in the weekly artisan fair that occurs every Sunday.
How I get here?
A year ago someone told me about a village located only 5km. from the center of Antigua Guatemala, on the crest of a hill, with neatly painted houses, and clean streets full of flowers. I couldn’t wait any longer to get to know this place, and it was love at first sight. I was captivated by the fact that everything I had heard was actually true.
I discovered a place with a solid community organization with clear objectives: to convert the village into an attractive tourist destination for both nationals and international visitors to generate local development.
To achieve these goals they created the ‘‘Comprehensive Cooperative of the Special Services of Tourism’’.
Their vision is spot-on, they have great potential to transform their village into an important tourist destination.
In this hilltop village, there are natural and adventure attractions, a diverse cuisine, lodging, trained members of the community who work as guides, themed tours, artisans, Spanish schools and other basic services.
There is also a community medical clinic close to the store of the artisans, which has been made possible, in part, through the gracious support of foreigners, who later visit the community to see their vision in totally progress.
Now hundreds of visitors make the climb every week, attracted by the comments of other people or out of curiosity after seeing pictures of the scenic overlook posted on Facebook.
The example of San Cristóbal El Alto is inspiring other communities to organize in a similar manner to pursue human development collectively.
The community has many challenges, one of them increasing the number of visitors in the village. Another challenge is to involve authorities to help improve the roads. There is a lot more to tell, but you should come and see for yourself!
The anchoring business is the restaurant-garden Cerro San Cristóbal, whose principal attractions are the spectacular view of the valley and the organic food provided mainly by the on-site collective farm.
As for adventure, the community offers guided tours to explore the trails of the mountain nearby. There are two routes: one with the view of the spring at the summit, and another with a panoramic view of the Colonial City, Antigua, where you can also practice spotting birds and coyotes.
A few meters from the plaza, you will encounter a restaurant named Los Pacayales, of Doña Ángela. A welcoming place surrounded by nature whose specialty is typical food, you won’t want to leave without trying the mole de plátano and the pepián.
The agrotourism heightens the senses here in San Cristóbal. In addition to learning about how farmers cultivate their crops, the lovers of the orquídeas can enjoy more than 50 varieties of this flower.
Don Laureano, shares with the visitors the artistic process of creating toys from wood. Both national and international visitors can’t hide their surprise to see a piece of wood transformed into a piece of art before their eyes. And during their visit, the tourists have the opportunity to personalize their hand painted toy that Don Laureano has already decorated. This experience is highly recommended for kids and families.
There is also the option to stay overnight. The community hosts a small, comfortable and organic hotel named Casa Xicayá, which donates parts of their profits towards maintaining the mountain trails.
Without a doubt that we are witnessing the birth of a new star.
Inocente Cutzan y Alfonso Xicay
5085 – 3196 / 5560 – 5081/ 5799 – 8135.