Mayan Lake Realty based in the Guatemalan Highland’s

Mayan Lake Realty (MLR) is a bespoke-style Real Estate Agency providing you with a professional, knowledgeable and personal service for all your real estate requirements: Selling, Buying, Rentals (Long and Short term), and Property Management.

MLR is based in the Guatemalan Highland’s town of Panajachel on the shores of the famous volcanic Lake Atitlan. Our portfolio covers towns around the lake shore and parts of the caldera, as well as some further afield like Antigua, the coast, Rio Dulce, and even Mexico and El Salvador.

We are an El Salvadorian / British couple, who have chosen Lake Atitlan as our home. Between us we have an extensive knowledge of Guatemala, the Lake Atitlan area, and real estate. Not only can we help you with all your real estate requirements, but also with any transport or travel, finding a Spanish teacher or school, or information on volunteer opportunities, visa requirements, or supporting one of the many wonderful NGOs (non-profits) working around the lake.

Villages around Lake Atitlan

Panajachel (Pana)PANA map 26 Aug 11

Pana is the central hub of Lake Atitlan as it has the main road access. It is small town that has a central tourist area comprising of Calle Santander running from the centre down to the lake shore, and the ‘Zona Viva’, where the majority of bars, clubs, and restaurants are.

The town of Panajachel was believed to be founded around same time as Sololá and Santiago Atitlan, in 1547. The name comes from the Cakchiquel (one of the Mayan languages used around the Lake) meaning ‘place of cane and doctors’ (but not the certified kind!). Another explanation is that it refers to the fertility and abundance in plant life here, thanks to the volcanic soil.

At the end of the 17th Century there was a local Cakchiquel population of 800, in 1936 it was 1,200, and now in 2012, it is approximated at 17,000, although there is a large foreign and tourist population too, which swells this number considerably at certain times of year. It was in the 1960s that it began to become a popular tourist destination and ‘hippie’ hangout, being knicknamed, ‘Gringotenango’!

There are three main areas of the town with the central part, Barrio Norte to the north and over the San Francisco River, Jucanya. But all are close and within easy walking distance of Pana has one of the largest ladino (Guatemalans of Spanish descent) populations around the lake, guessed to be around 75% indigenous and 25% ladino; whereas other villages around the lake are closer to 98% indigenous.

Tourism is the largest industry around the lake making up about 50% with agriculture being second at around 22%.

Some interesting facts:

  1. In 1959 the town of Pana was almost totally destroyed by flooding.
  2. Potable water was introduced in 1950.
  3. The road was asphalted in 1958.
  4. Electricity was introduced in 1961, benefiting 3,000 people.
  5. 1969 there was another flood, thankfully not so destructive this time.
  6. 1989 (Oct) Hurrican Mitch hit.
  7. 2005 (Oct) Hurrican Stan destroyed around 100 houses along the shores of the San Francisco river.
  8. 2010 (May) Tropical Storm Agatha.
  9. 2011 (Oct) Tropical Storm 12-E.
  10. Annual festival 2-6 October.

Starting going east from Pana:

Semana Sta in Sta CatarinaSanta Catarina

Famous for the distinctive blue ‘traje’ that the women wear and still some men too. It is worth visiting to see a traditional lake-side village. Go to Villa Santa Catarina or Casa Palopo for lunch. Be sure to visit the small church too. We suggest that when visiting this church, as with any church or religious centre, that you are dressed respectfully.

San Antonio

Famous for its beautiful ceramics, which are for sale all over the village. The old church is also interesting to pop into.

San Lucas Toliman

Not much to see here and difficult to get to, although now, because the road is so bad, there is a public lancha, and there is a nice hotel for lunch, Hotel Toliman.Semana Sta in San Antiono

Santiago Atitlan

Famous for the home of ‘Maximon’ and you will be inundated with offers to take you there! It also has a great small, backstrap loom museum and a fair-trade store with high-end, high-quality accessories all made on the back strap loom, and run by the non-profit, the Cojolya Association of Maya Women Weavers. Two great places for lunch are the Posada Santiago and the Hotel Bambu.

San Pedro

A backpackers’ hang-out with plenty of choices for eating and hanging-out in.

San Juan

Probably the cleanest and prettiest of the lake-side villages, it is the home of many natural dye cooperatives. You can visit some of them and have a demonstration. There is also an interesting coffee tour here, and if you are feeling very energetic you can hike up to the Devil’s nose through the nature preserve. (See La ComUnidad K’em Ajachel above for tours.) If you like wine and cheese, be sure to go the Artesan Cafe just round the corner from the market – excellent place!

San Marcos

This is the spiritual center of the lake, with just about every alternative type of therapy on offer.


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