Lake Atitlan in Guatemala – Travel information and tips

Anyone who travels to Guatemala cannot help but be fascinated by the prevailing and strong nature Mayan culture which persists, especially in less touristy areas or mountain villages where life flows slowly and in a relaxed manner, where typical Western obsessions and speed seem to be light years away and we rediscover a life that perhaps was also ours 100 or maybe even just 50 ago here in Italy.

Il lake Atitlan it is one of the places that anyone who goes to Guatemala cannot miss.

The word Atitlan comes from the Mayan meaning “place where the rainbow gets its colors”. The lake is located at an altitude of 1,500 meters and is surrounded by 3 volcanoes and 12 towns which each bear the name of one of the twelve apostles. In addition to this, I don’t think I’m wrong if I say that here, perhaps more than in other areas of Guatemala, the Mayans they are still a living culture that can be experienced.

In this area they speak well 15 different Mayan dialectsMayan is in fact the main language and not everyone speaks Spanish, the craftsman is beautiful and you can waste entire afternoons shopping from one little shop to another.

Hammocks, bracelets, necklaces, table covers and tablecloths are all handmade here and at incredible prices. I, who don’t like shopping, admit that I got lost here and couldn’t stop buying gifts for friends and relatives.

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Lago de Atitlan is located between Antigua and the Mexican borderimmersed in verdant and still immaculate nature and is the area of ​​Guatemala where the culture of the indigenous people is perhaps the strongest and most combative.
Il more it is an important element in this culture and you can easily find corn cob fields along the road.
The most beautiful thing, although sometimes painful, was seeing men, women and children carrying wood, placed in a strip of fabric and held balanced on their foreheads. This wood is used for cooking or heating the house.
The faces of the natives are worn out and tired, working hard without ever asking for charity or even without forcing myself to buy something, which amazed and fascinated me to the point that it was here that my personal interest in this ancient and full of traditions unknown to me.


Find out what to do in the villages of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala
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Going back to talking about the lake, as I have already said, a series of towns have developed around it.

The main ones are: Panachel, Saint Anthony e Santa Catarina Palopo, San Pedro la Laguna, San Marcos la Laguna e Santa Cruz la Laguna.

Panachel it is certainly the busiest and most touristy town, the main street full of shops and tiendas is always full of people and tourists shopping. Furthermore, during the weekend people come here to spend a few hours in one of the bars or restaurants.
Here you can also find numerous low-cost hostels or hotels that can start from $6 up to $15.

For those who want to stay in a quieter village, I recommend it San Pedro la Lagunawhere I was and which is perhaps one of the cheapest towns on the lake but where nothing is missing: Spanish schools, percussion schools, restaurants and bars with breathtaking views of the lake and the volcanoes.
Here there is also the San Pedro Volcano which can be climbed by more or less anyone, all it takes is a little energy. After admiring the sunset from the summit of the volcano it is worth stopping at the Thermal Waters (entry cost €2), right next to the Buddha Bar.

How to get around Lake Atitlan

The lake is surrounded by towns and to move from one to another I recommend taking the boat (and don’t forget a jacket if you plan to return after sunset or in the evening).
A one-way ticket to any destination on the lake and with these passenger boats costs $1.30, but as a tourist, expect to be asked for more. I recommend negotiating directly with the boatmen without relying on intermediaries.
The journey takes approximately 30-40 minutes considering that all stops are made.

How to get to Lake Atitlan from Antigua

Antigua is the closest city to Lake Atitlan and you generally go to and from here.
In Antigua you can book a shuttle at tourist agencies which generally leaves twice a day and the price is around $12 one way (or around €8). I recommend booking the day before in the morning as the shuttles fill up easily. The journey takes about 3 hours and the roads are mountainous so if you suffer from car sickness it is a good idea to take a xamamine or a travelgum.

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