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11 Best Things to Do in Coban Guatemala You Need to Try

Coban town in Guatemala is quite known among travelers as the home base for their adventures in the region. It is also a very important social and commercial hub for all the surrounding towns, villages, and tourist destinations. Cobán is also the gateway for some of Guatemala’s best eco- and adventure-tourism destinations and activities.

It is located in the Verapaz area of Guatemala, known for being home to a beautiful cloud forest and one of the last places where you get to see the Resplendent Quetzal, the national bird of Guatemala

Many years ago when the Spaniards founded this town it was called “Ciudad Imperial”. Today it is a 4,000ft. town where you will find lots of hotels, restaurants, internet cafés, and bars.

Cobán Central Park Guatemala
In Coban town you can take a walk around the central park and marvel at its interesting architecture.

Cardamom in Coban, Guatemala

Near Coban you will see many cardamom plantations. This is the main industry of the area. It was brought by German immigrants in the mid-20th century. Cardamom and coffee are grown in this cool, moist mountain climate.

Today, cardamom is Guatemala’s fourth most important cash crop behind coffee, bananas, and sugar.

There are many places to visit here, but the most popular ones are the natural turquoise pools of Semuc Champey and the huge complex of the Lanquin Caves. But that’s not close to being the only place to visit in the area, you can visit Lanquin Village too, or head to Lake Lachua on a day trip.

And in this post, we will go through 11 of the best things to do in Coban so you can make the most of your trip to Coban and have an enjoyable and unforgettable experience.

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Top 11 Things to Do in Coban Guatemala

1. Candelaria Caves

The Candelaria Caves are one of the amazing natural wonders in Guatemala and are situated near the town of Candelaria and well known for their geological formations such as stalactites and stalagmites which take over a thousand years to form.

Apart from their natural beauty the Candelaria Caves are culturally significant as a site for ceremonial purposes for the ancient Mayans and you can still see some of the altars that were used by the Mayans.

These are the entrances to a large cave complex that you can access through a place called Raxruha and are made up of seven separate caves interconnected by the Río Candelaria. The caves are spread across 14 miles (22 km) and have ceilings that reach as high as 200 feet (60 m). Candelaria is one of Central America’s largest cave systems

You can hire tours that leave from Coban, take you tubing in the Candelaria River, and end with a visit to a dry fraction of this cave system.

Tours are usually available from 8 am to 5 pm and, aside from the transportation fee, you will have to pay a small entrance fee that goes from $5 to $10.

quetzal bird on a tree in guatemala wildlife

2. Biotopo del Quetzal

Biotopo del Quetzal is a nature reserve in the pristine and lush cloud forests south of Coban. It is located about 30 minutes by car away from the main Coban Town, and it is by far one of the most important reserves in the country. 

Biotopo del Quezal It was founded in 1975 with the aim of protecting the local cloud forest and the endangered quetzal bird. But there are 87 more bird species and 58 mammal species for you to look for between the trees.

There are two trails, a 2km one and a 4km one. In both of them, you will be able to see little streams, small waterfalls, and virgin cloud forests. Try to get there really early in the morning for a better chance to see the beautiful quetzal.

Apart from the amazing Guatemalan wildlife, there are many varieties of plants and trees especially epiphytes or air plants which thrive in the humid cloud forest. Also deeper in the forest you can find Xiu Gua Li Che (Grandfather Tree) which is about 450 years old.

The entrance fee is around $5 per person.

3. El Calvario Church

El Calvario Church is a significant religious landmark located in the heart of Coban and is known for its panoramic views of the city as well as the mountains. The exact date of construction for El Calvario Church is not widely documented, but it is believed to have been built during the Spanish colonial period, likely in the 16th or 17th century. Like many churches in Guatemala, it blends elements of Catholicism with indigenous Mayan beliefs and practices.

A visit to El Calvario is the perfect chance to experience how syncretism works in Guatemala. This may look like a traditional Catholic Church from the outside, but if you pay attention, you will be able to see that old Mayan tradition never died.

inside of el calvario church in coban guatemala
El calvario church in Coban Guatemala is an interesting thing to do even if you are not a religious person, visit it and check out the mysteries and vibrant architecture.

On the left side of the church, you will see a small chapel that locals use for lighting candles, a lot like they do in Ancestral Mayan Rituals.

El Calvario Church stands as a testament to Guatemala’s rich cultural and religious heritage, attracting visitors from around the world who come to admire its beauty and learn about its history.

4. Las Victorias National Park

Las Victorias National Park is a protected area that is another great option for all of those nature, eco-friendly, and adventure lovers. Las Victorias National Park is about 8 kilometers (5 miles) northeast of Cobán making it easily accessible for visitors.

Before 1980 it was a cattle and dairy ranch, but the owners decided to turn it into a National Park. The park offers various recreational activities for visitors to enjoy, including hiking, birdwatching, camping, and picnicking. There are well-maintained trails that lead through the forest, providing opportunities to explore the park’s natural beauty and encounter its wildlife.

This park is located over 82 hectares of land and offers many trails that take you to visit the natural surroundings, including a lagoon.

There are picnic and camping areas that you get to use for an extra fee. Making it a safe and fun place for families.

5. Museo Príncipe Maya (Mayan Prince Museum)

This is the place to go if you are looking to see artifacts and pottery from Mayan days that have been found in the surroundings. Glyphs, inscriptions, and sculptures are also a part of the pre-Hispanic objects that are shown in the five rooms that are open to the public.

The museum is a private museum and is relatively small (but the displays are quite impressive) and here you can find artifacts of the rich history of the Mayan culture and traditions in the private collection of artifacts from El Petén, Alta Verapaz, and Quiché.

6. Finca Santa Margarita by Dieseldorff

Founded in 1838, Finca Santa Margarita comprises 2,320 hectares with 812 hectares devoted to coffee farms. The remaining land is set aside as natural forest land, dedicated to the promotion of natural species and wildlife biodiversity with environmental sustainability being a key mission of the farm.

Finca Santa Margarita is a place where you get to learn all about coffee plantations and how coffee is processed in this region. The tour will take you around the plantation, for a coffee-tasting experience, and by the time you leave, you will have the option to buy some of their coffee or local artisan’s work.

Finca Santa Margarita is mostly run and operated by women from the coffee pickers to managers of the grafting program and administrators of the school and health clinic on the farm.

court yard in coban guatemala
Coban maybe small but it’s worth checking out, a little town in the highlands with great history and a great base for day trips like Semuc Champey.

7. Walkthrough of Orquigonia orchid garden

The Orquigonia Orchid Sanctuary is a rescue and conservation center located just a few minutes away from Cobán with the main feature being a 1km long path that includes interactive stations and featuring 450 orchid species along the way.

Guatemala’s tropical weather makes it ideal for orchids with 1400 different species known to grow in the country. Coban’s climate is perfect for growing orchids if you take a walk through the local forests you might be able to see a few on the trees.

Orquigonia offers extremely informative tours where you not only get to go out to nature with a guide but also get shown a movie/documentary with even more information about these plants.

By paying for a tour with them, you are supporting local tour guides and helping the organization to continue with its amazing research and conservation projects.

Coban and the surrounding area are filled with a couple of the best attractions of Guatemala, mainly natural beauties. The terrain is a bit rough, but it is worth the effort.

Note: It is recommended to use a tall car or SUV to explore the area.

orchid from coban guatemala
While in Coban, a must visit is the Orchid garden, make sure to do a tour and learn about how important this plant is and check out all the different orchid in the garden.

8. Shopping in Cobán

Apart from the natural beauty, Coban is also a great place for shopping for local souvenirs and local handicrafts, and even traditional Guatemalan clothing and other crafts.

While walking around the local markets you can also try delicious street food, shop for handicrafts, and experience the vibrant atmosphere.

While there may not be large shopping centers with multiple stores under one roof like in bigger cities, Coban still offers plenty of opportunities for shopping and exploring local goods such as the popular Mercado Central (Central Market) for handicrafts and souvenirs or Mercado Terminal to shop like a local for fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, artisan products that are unique in Guatemala.

And for a more modern shopping experience in Coban, you can always check out Plaza Magdalena Commercial Center is a one-stop shop for clothes, shoes, and general supplies.

9. Chilasco Waterfall

The Chilascó Waterfall is situated in the municipality of Chisec, which is about 70 kilometers (43 miles) north of Cobán. While the Chilascó Waterfall is relatively remote, it is accessible by road from Cobán. Visitors can drive or take public transportation to Chisec and then hike or take a short drive to reach the waterfall.

The area around the waterfall offers opportunities for hiking, swimming, and picnicking. Visitors can explore the surrounding forests, take a refreshing dip in the pool beneath the waterfall, or simply relax and enjoy the natural beauty of the area.

You can swim in the refreshing waters or simply enjoy the tranquility of the natural surroundings. The Chilascó Waterfall is part of the broader ecotourism offerings in the Alta Verapaz region. The area is known for its biodiversity, and visitors can often spot a variety of bird species and other wildlife while exploring the area around the waterfall.

El Salto de Chilascó waterfall in guatemala
Cobán is also the gateway for some of Guatemala’s best eco- and adventure-tourism destinations and activities.

10. Rappel – Bombil Pek Caves

Bombil Pek Caves, also known as Grutas de Bombil Pek, is a fascinating natural attraction located near Cobán. Bombil Pek Caves are situated in the municipality of San Juan Chamelco, which is about 15 kilometers (9 miles) south of Cobán. The caves are nestled within the lush forests of the region, adding to their natural beauty and allure.

While the caves are relatively remote, they are accessible by road from Cobán. Visitors can drive or take public transportation to San Juan Chamelco and then arrange for a guided tour of the caves.

One of the more adventurous things you can do in Coban is rappel down to the entrance of the caves and explore the Bombil Pek Caves.

11. Ram Tzul Nature Reserve

Ram Tzu Nature Reserve is a beautiful natural attraction located near Cobán famous for its lush vegetation, pristine waterfalls, and stunning natural pools. Visitors can hike through the lush jungle to reach the waterfalls, where they can swim in the refreshing pools and enjoy the breathtaking scenery.

This place was created as a conservation center to protect the great number of orchids, birds, and the cloud forest of this region which is home to the Quetzal.

Ram Tzul is a popular destination for eco-tourism and outdoor enthusiasts seeking to experience the beauty of Guatemala’s natural landscapes. Additionally, the surrounding area is home to diverse wildlife, making it a great spot for birdwatching and wildlife photography.

Here you will be surrounded by nature while enjoying traditional dishes in the eco-restaurant located in the reserve. And you can buy different bamboo-based souvenirs and accessories to take home a piece of Guatemala.

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7 of the Best Things to Do in Coban, Guatemala - Travel Experta

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Last Updated on March 3, 2024

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