Lago de Atitlán Things to Do

  • View of Santiago Atitlán from the Lake
    View of Santiago Atitlán from the Lake
    by gdilieto
  • View of the Lake from Panajachel Shore
    View of the Lake from Panajachel Shore
    by gdilieto
  • View of the Lake from Panajachel Shore
    View of the Lake from Panajachel Shore
    by gdilieto

Most Recent Things to Do in Lago de Atitlán

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    Private boat tours to remote locations

    by Didi_92 Written Aug 12, 2009

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    We recently took a private boat tour with Los Elementos Adventure Center and I recommend it because we were able to go to locations that would have been difficult to find on our own. Many of the best and most exotic places can only be reached by boat. . . and only if you have a guide who knows where to go. We visited several of the geothermal hot springs for a warm relaxing swim. We also had a great tour of San Juan and their various coopertives and were happy to have found and experienced this special village on the lake.
    Los Elementos tour boat was able to take us into remote areas for bird and wild life viewing.
    At the end of the day we stopped the boat in the middle of the lake to enjoy the 360 degree views, and to swim in the clear clean waters.

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  • gdilieto's Profile Photo

    Take a Boat Tour of the Lake

    by gdilieto Updated Feb 26, 2009
    Sailing on Lake Atitl��n
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    Needless to say, there isn't a better way to enjoy Lake Atitlán than taking a boat tour. You may take one of the public boats connecting the major villages of the Lake (Panajachel, Santiago Atitlán, San Pedro La Laguna) and that will still work out fine or, for a custom tour, you can hire a private boat and ask the driver (lancero) to be taken around the lake or to the destinations of your choice. Moreover, many of the smaller villages (in this category I visited Santa Caterina Palopó) are not connected by regular services and, even for those which are, the time you want to stay over is unpredictable, being the villages very small and you might literally want to move on after very short time without waiting the next public boat.

    There is, of course, plenty of choice, with plenty of travel agencies arranging individual/group tours. As an alternative, you can just get to the lake shore and negotiate with one of the many lanceros who will come and greet you offering their service. I paid in Panajachel for an individual tour ~US$30 for ~2 hour tour to Santa Catarina including a stop at a couple of other spots on the way.

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  • gdilieto's Profile Photo

    Visit the The Maya Villages of Lake Atitlán

    by gdilieto Updated Feb 26, 2009

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    View of Santa Catarina Palop�� from the Lake
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    There are some ten villages bordering Lake Atitlán, constituting the main attraction of the Lake. With the exception of Panajachel, that has turned over the last two decades into a major tourist hub, in all those other villages Maya culture is still prevalent, traditional dress is worn and native language spoken.

    Besides Panajachel, the place where I made my base, I have visited the villages of Santiago Atitlán and San Pedro La Laguna (the most-traveled villages on the Lake) as well as Santa Catarina Palopó, one of the smaller villages, the one at the shortest distance from Panajachel. There is no specific sites or attractions to recommend in any of those villages (with perhaps the exception of the Maximon, a local deity in Santiago that I didn't visit) and by the way all of them are very small with very little chance to miss anything. Every village has its own character but, in general, do not expect pretty, manicured places on the style of Antigua Guatemala or other colonial villages of Central America; all those villages are right at the opposite side of the spectrum, with rundown constructions, dusty alleys and nothing fancy to exhibit to visitors. The reason you want to come here is to have a taste of life of local Maya communities, do some shopping of their arts and handcrafts and enjoy different views of the Lake.

    Panajachel, Santiago and San Pedro are well connected one another with regular boat service (but service stops at sunset not too late in the afternoon). For other destinations you'll have to hire a private boat or take a bus from one of the major villages.

    Check my travelogue Photo Gallery of Villages of Lake Atitlán for some more photos and description.

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  • gdilieto's Profile Photo

    Enjoy Sunset on the Lake

    by gdilieto Updated Feb 25, 2009
    Sunset on the Lake (from Panajachel)

    If you are in Panajachel, head to the lakeshore at sunset to enjoy beautiful scenery of the sun setting over the lake. The best spot I found is the shore at the end of Calle del Embarcadero, where boats to San Pedro La Laguna depart and arrive. The photo posted is taken from there.

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    Make Your Base in Panajachel

    by gdilieto Updated Feb 24, 2009
    Main Street in Panajachel
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    Panajachel is the center of tourism of Lake Atitlán. I guess, just like the other villages of Lake Atitlán, the town was once an enclave of Maya communities, today there is very little left and the town is just a lineup of hotel, restaurants, souvenir shops and other establishment (usually run by Ladinos and expats, very few by Maya people) catering to a crowd of international tourists and weekend visitors from the capital city.

    I made my base in Panajachel in my visit to Lake Atitlán and I found it very convenient. "Pana" - as the town is called - has beautiful views of the lake and decent tourist services in term of accomodation and transportation. Not the best place if you are after a deep dive into the culture of Lake Atitlán but most likely the most convenient choice for the average tourist for a pleasant visit to the Lake.

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  • gdilieto's Profile Photo

    Playing Volleyball at the Lake

    by gdilieto Updated Feb 23, 2009
    Sport Time at the Lake

    In Panajachel, if you would like to do some sport to relax or exercise, head to the lake shore and play some volleyball under the shade of two volcanoes. I bet this is one of the most scenografic playground you have ever played at.

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  • DrugstoreCowgirl's Profile Photo

    Ziplining! A Great Way to See the Lake!

    by DrugstoreCowgirl Written Jun 2, 2008

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    You can take a short taxi ride to Reserva Natural de Atitlan where they offer ziplining. It was only $12 US, I think a little over Q100, although I read somewhere the prices went up a few dollars. You walk up the mountain, going over 2 suspension bridges with gorgeous views of the waterfall. When you finally get to the top there are 6 lines crisscrossing the valley, and you will not see a more spectacular view of the lake! It's the most fun you will have at Atitlan and you get a good workout too. The ziplines are done to the standards of the US and the EU, so it's very safe.

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  • HasTowelWillTravel's Profile Photo

    Hiking Volcan San Pedro

    by HasTowelWillTravel Written Apr 18, 2008

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    the vegeation along the hike
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    From the town of San Pedro de la Laguna, you can find any number of guides to take you up the volcano that has the same name as the town. It is a steep hike, so be in good shape and bring lots of water. The hike takes you up through the town and into the fields above the town until you reach the mirador. From here you have great views of the town and lake. This is often a stopping point for those not wanting (or not able) to make it all the way up to the top. Continuing up, it gets even steeper, and often the peak is shrouded in clouds, limiting visibility of the surrounding area.

    This is a demanding hike, but the views are beautiful, and well worth it, even if you just go to the mirador. The pace is set by the guide (who seems to have no problem with the hiking), but is usually accommodating to those who are slower, especially if the majority of the group is like that.

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    Go for a Dip

    by HasTowelWillTravel Written Mar 10, 2008
    lakeview

    Most of the towns around Lago de Atitlan have access to the water, and it is a gorgeous place to take a dip. The water is cold and refreshing, so after a day of hiking or biking, it is great to slide in and splash around. And since you're already in the water, it doesn't matter if it starts raining! My only recommendation would be to stay away from where people are washing clothes and/or dishes.

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    • Water Sports
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  • easterntrekker's Profile Photo

    San Pedro Church

    by easterntrekker Written Apr 1, 2007

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    At the top of the hill in san pedro was a lovely church that kind of looked like a wedding cake . It was a pretty practical church , it had a women's clinic on one side and a community center on the other.

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  • easterntrekker's Profile Photo

    Visit San Pedro

    by easterntrekker Written Apr 1, 2007

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    San Pedro is about an hour boat trip from Panajachel. This village is a lot less touristy than some of the others around the lake. There is a steep road leading up from the docks and through the town. There are a few restaurants where you can stop for a bite and some little shops. There are a few places to stay as well.

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    People watching-

    by easterntrekker Written Apr 1, 2007

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    A pleasant passtime in San Antonio Palopo is taking a walk through the hilly village and enjoying the sights and sounds of the villagers. Many of the people here are farmers . They grow crops of green onions and we saw them washing them in the lake.

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  • easterntrekker's Profile Photo

    Cooking Cakchiquel style

    by easterntrekker Written Apr 1, 2007

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    San Antonio Atitlan -On walk through town , up the steep hill from the dock we got an overview of local life . We saw the simple brightly painted houses bulit along the narrow roads and outside their doors were big pots where they cooked as they have for centuries over open flames.

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    Iglesia de San Antonio Palopo

    by easterntrekker Written Apr 1, 2007

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    This is a steep but not to long hike from the docks in San Antonio Papopo. You can see the lovely white church from the water towering over the village. The steps infront of the gleaming church are a popular resting place for the villagers...us too after the steep hike.

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    Cigar smoking idol - Maximon

    by easterntrekker Written Apr 1, 2007

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    As soon as we got off the boat we were met by local children offering to take us to the house that kept the local deity Maximon. It is moved to a new location each year. You can offer cigars or cash to the deity...he is known to cure illnesses and other favors as well.

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    • Historical Travel
    • Arts and Culture
    • Religious Travel

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