Lake Atitlan is the jewel of Guatemala and only a few hour’s ride from Antigua Guatemala. Yolkobsens spent six months at the most beautiful lake in the world, but even a day trip to this spectacular force of nature will cause you to revisit your idea of what a lake is. Actually, it might get you to re-examine your notion about the character of water altogether. It’s that powerful an experience. Eerie and, at the same time, softly mystical is Lake Atitlan.
Mr. and Mrs. Yolkobsen understand that not all travelers are so blessed that they can spend many months staring at views that defy description. For example, the colours of the lake change at Lake Atitlan by the minute or the hour, aqua to azure blue and back again, often with reflections of the three majestic, but mercifully extinct, volcanoes that dominate the “lakescape.” But a one-day excursion or overnight stay will at least give you an experience of a unique lake you will not soon forget.
From Antigua Guatemala, the trip takes about 2 1/2 hours via private shuttle or touring bus.
Chicken bus rides, with their own spirited schedules, are slightly longer. Once you get to Lake Atitlan, you’ll get around by water taxi. A regular and organized service operates around the clock till nighttime taking travelers to points around the lake. Cost for a boat ride is around $2. If you go with a tourism company, you can opt for a package which includes transportation to Lake Atitlan and several of the many Mayan villages that ring the lake.
Lake Atitlán [Lago de Atitlán] is by far the most spectacular lake 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.
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 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. While Panajachel’s shoreline is filled with hotels and restaurants, San Antonio still offers onion 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.” 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 restaurants, for a low budget.
Santiago Atitlan is the largest community around the lake. It was also the capital of the Tz’utujil culture and many still practice its old traditions. The main street up from the dock offers many stores and stands where the local artisans sell wooden and other handcrafted products. The town offers a small variety of quality hotel-restaurants like Posada Santiago.
For information on accommodations
Centrally located, Villa hosts can link you to all that the region has to offer the curious traveler: from the historical cobblestone walks in Spanish colonial Antigua Guatemala to the Mayan ruins at Tikal to the beauty of Lake Atitlan, to the shopping bonanza in Chichicastenango market or to Pacaya, an awesome and very much alive volcano.
Located on two scenic acres, four kilometers from town, our Villa features five bedrooms, each with en suite bathroom. Here energy can be renewed after a day’s sightseeing. Cocktails and light dinner can be served at La Villa or transit can be arranged so that you can take in the restaurants and nightlife of Antigua Guatemala.
Your hosts are Canadian and American who love the region and can guide you to its many attractions. A menu or package of activities can be arranged by the Villa or we can advise you on how and where to go to get the most out of your visit to Antigua Guatemala and its environs.