SAN JUAN CHAMULA

The small town, about 10km (6 miles) from San Cristobal, is a key attraction as part of a tour of local villages around San Cristobal and is best experienced with the help of a local guide, who can give insight and local knowledge that will help you to make some sense of the distinct culture and customs practiced here. San Juan Chamula is the principal town of the Tzotzils, with a population of around 80,000.

It is also the main religious and economic centre of the community. Like neighbouring Zinacantan, the Chamulas also are very private people. They do not tolerate well with people taking pictures of them or their temples.

Like other indigenous communities in this region, they can be identified by the clothes they wear. All the clothes they wear are hand made locally.

The wool on the sheep, cleaning, dyes and knitting are all obtained "in-house": nothing is purchased externally. Sheep are sacred here: they are treated, protected and mourned on passing as any other member of the family.

If you are driving through this region take extreme precautions with sheep that may wander into the road.