Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
lake Atitlán [Lago de Atitlán] is one of the most beautiful lakes in the world to visit. Its green mountain ranges, blue waters and three perfectly shaped volcanoes provide a wonderful view from any of the 12 villages that surround it. Another prime feature to enjoy is the lake’s culture. Here in the highlands of Guatemala many indigenous maintained a fair share of their centuries old traditions. Many charming Mayan women still wear, with pride, their colourful traditional clothing like the “huipil” while doing their daily chores. The men working the fields often wear a knee-high short pair of pants that defines the village they come from.
Lake Atitlán, its villages and its culture are a winning combination of scenic beauty, a super relaxed atmosphere and a very friendly and accessible Mayan population. It enjoys an efficient and relatively in-expensive tourist infrastructure, while maintaining a balance with nature.
A short description of the villages surrounding the lake:
Panajachel is the centered tourist town. From here you can take a boat to any of the other villages, shop or enjoy the biggest variety of hotels and restaurants around lake Atitlan.
Santa Catarina can be reached by car or pickup truck from Panajachel by road. It has a plaza that holds the town’s main activities, painting galleries to visit and tipica for sale, on the way down to the lake. Here you also find Hotel Casa Palopó and a few restaurants.
San Antonio is a village with many of its people still wearing traditional clothing. Where in Panajachel the shoreline is filled with hotels and restaurants, San Antonio still offers union fields and other natural views. Many tourists visit this village for its ceramics factories and stores.
Santa Cruz la Laguna, only accessible by boat, is a small laid back village. It hosts famous and unique hotels like “La Iguana Perdida” and “La Casa Rosa”, also many foreign artists reside there. It’s the best place to start shoreline hikes with amazing views of Lake Atitlan.
El Jaibalito and Tzununá belong to the smaller villages at the lake. Over 99% of its population are indigenous Kaqchikel. The two villages are very quiet places to visit but do have tourist infrastructure with Hotel Restaurant “Lomas de Tzununa” and club “Ven Aca”, a restaurant bar on the waterfront in Jaibalito.
San Marcos la Laguna offers reiki, yoga, massages, aromatherapies, Chinese health therapies, reflexology, meditation, holistic treatments and other new age therapies. The famous Las Pirámides Meditation Centre offers a month long Moon-course, which addresses spiritual topics and ends in a week of silence and fasting.
San Pedro la Laguna, like Panajachel, is a true backpacker destination. Many tourists study Spanish here, enjoy horseback riding or climb the San Pedro volcano. The town offers a wide variety of hotels and restaurant, for a low budget.
Santiago Atitlan is the largest community around the lake. It was also the capital of the Tz'utujil culture and still practices many of its old traditions. The main street up from the dock offer many stores and stand where the local artisans sell wooden and other handcrafted products. The town offers a small variety of quality hotel-restaurants like Posada Santiago.
Lake Atitlan Hotels
Various hotels are offered to the tourists who travel to the Maya villages around the lake. Some of these hotels are jewels and all offer an outstanding service for their guests. San Buenaventura, Posada los Encuentros and Hotel el Sol are on our current Atitlan hotel listing.
Ati is a cultural youth movement based in Panajachel. They organize cultural festivals and literature events and broadcast Radio Ati in Spanish supported by Pacto por la Vida in Costa Rica.
Panajachel International College
Panajachel International College is founded in August 2010 and a new choice for schooling in Panajachel.
In May 2010 tropical storm Agatha dropped an enormous amount of rain over Guatemala that caused damages to the roads (Cerro Lec), bridges and other infrastructure. A repeat from what happened in 2005 when Hurricane Stan hit Guatemala in an even more devastating way.
We have an extensive blog section. Panajachel blogger Padma is very popular as well as a series of poems about Lake Atitlán. Big thanks to Miriam and Jessica who described their stay at Lake Atitlán during tropical storm "Agatha" and made their blogs available to us. Same for Lake Atitlán expedition [UC Davis] who generously let us integrate their 2010 expedition blog.
Videos from villages like Panajachel, San Marcos, San Juan la Laguna, Santa Cruz and San Pedro la Laguna.
An image gallery with pictures from photographer Andrea Pennington from Guatemala and other artists along with galleries with original hiking photos from Panajachel and surrounding communities like San Antonio Palopo.
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