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Lago Atitlan

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Travel Guide Central America Guatemala Lago Atitlan

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Introduction

Lago Atitlan

Lago Atitlan

© All Rights Reserved evelynez

Lago Atitlan is a volcanic lake located in the Guatemalan highlands at an altitude of about 1,560 metres. The lake is beautifully set, surrounded by mountains and volcanoes. There are many small villages around the lake, most of them only accessible be boat. Lago Atitlan is one of the most established stops on the backpacker route from Mexico through Guatemala, and also a popular weekend get-away for travellers living in Antigua studying Spanish.

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Sights & Activities

Day trips to the villages that surround the lake are exciting as each one has it's own unique charm. Santiago Atitlan, on the far side of the lake from Panajachel, is the largest Mayan settlement in the country. Maximon, an old Mayan deity also resides here, ask around if you wish to visit though you may find not all locals appreciate him.

Despite swimming being an obvious activity, ask around where the best place to do so is as unfortunately the years of waste mis-management has seen Lago Atitlan turn into one of the most polluted lakes in Central America.

The Indian's Head is at the top of the mountain above the cities of San Juan and San Marcos. It is accessible through various tracks and there are also organised trips with horses to the top.Lying in the countries most western highlands, the countries prettiest looking place is the pure and blue lake Atitlan. This place mirrors the three Fuji like volcanoes.A large collapsed volcanic cone can be found right at the lake Atitlan. The descendants of the ancient placed called Maya, even today live off the land which is rich in ash and other minerals. The maize farming methods through the years have still been the same, this is because the local people have made an effort so that they don’t change their old ways of living.

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Events & Festivals

The Good Friday procession in Santiago Atitlan is truly spectacular.

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Getting There

Buses from Antigua and other destinations arrive at Panajachel, from where you can catch a boat to the different villages.

There are two boat docks in Panajachel, one taking you to Santa Cruz, Jaibalito, Tzununa, and San Marcos. The second will take you to Santiago Atitlan. Tourists will be charged more than locals.

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Getting Around

The easiest way to get around within the larger villages and towns are by the bright red tuk tuks. Ask some locals what the price should be to get from A to B and then negotiate with your driver.

Many lanchas, or small boats, provide transport from village to village around and across the lake. Some boats are scheduled like buses, other will go as soon as they accumulate enough passengers, like share-ride taxis. Generally the prices are Q3 for one harbor, Q5 for two, and maximum Q10 for many or across the lake. The crew are a bunch of really unpleasant scoundrels however and will extort up to Q25 out of anyone with a light complexion or limited Spanish.

Some people suggest it is generally best not to mention a price until you get off the boat, that will usually get you into the extortion situation, however. You can also ask the people with little or no luggage how much they're paying (chances are they're at least a little familiar with the system.) The prices are fixed and the locals (or regionals) always pay the same.

Examples of typical prices:

  • Panajachel to/from Santa Cruz - Q10-15
  • Panajachel to/from San Marcos - Q10-20
  • San Marcos to/from Santa Cruz - Q10-15

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Eat/Drink

Many of the towns around the lake have restaurants, at a variety of price points from luxury to budget.

Lake Atitlán is a better place to relax than to party. Some towns, like Panajachel, have thriving bar scenes. Others go to sleep when the night falls.

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Sleep

Each of the towns and villages around the lake offer a wide range of hotels.

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Contributors

as well as Lavafalls (5%), idasss (5%)

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This is version 15. Last edited at 12:24 on Aug 9, 17 by Utrecht. 4 articles link to this page.

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