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Panajachel

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Travel Guide Central America Guatemala Panajachel

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Introduction

Panajachel (Pana) is a town in the southwestern Guatemalan Highlands, less than 150 kilometres from Guatemala City, in the department of Sololá. It serves as the administrative centre for the surrounding municipality of the same name. The town lies at an altitude of around 1,600 metres and has about 12,000 inhabitants. The town of Panajachel is located on the northeast shore of Lake Atitlán, and has become a centre for the tourist trade of the area as it provides a base for visitors crossing the lake to visit other towns and villages.

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Sights and Activities

  • Casa Cakchiquel, Calle 14 Febrero (Corner of Santander and 14 Febrero), ☎ +502 7762 09 69, e-mail: casacakchiquel@gmail.com. Built in 1948, Casa Cakchiquel was one of the first hotels on the lake and according to legend, Ernersto "Che" Guevara, Ingrid Bergman, and other intellectuals, artists, and writers enjoyed the house at its best. Today the house has been restored and features a fair trade store, rotating exhibits, and a vintage photo and postcard gallery. It is also home to organizations Thirteen Threads, Radio 5 and Restaurante Hana.

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Getting There

Chicken buses from Guatemala City leave approximately every hour, from 6AM to 4PM, and cost only a few US dollars. However, the ride is long, and it can be quite uncomfortable if the bus gets crowded (which it almost certainly will).

Alternatively, you can take a bus to Los Encuentros, and change there. A bus from Los Encuentros to Sololá costs Q2 (quetzales) and from there you can take another to Panajachel, for Q3.50.

Many tourist agencies will arrange tourist buses transport to Panajachel. A minibus from Antigua to Panajachel is US$12 per person each way, though some among the number of agents offering the service could charge US$20-25.

Adrenalina diagonally across from the post office (oficina de correos) has a good reputation.

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Getting Around

Panajachel is quite small, and you can walk practically anywhere within 20 minutes. Small three-wheel taxis (or tuk-tuks) continually circle the few streets, and cost Q5 for any destination in Panajachel, Q10 if the ride requires going off the delta (uphill), for example to the Nature reserve (3 people negotiated a ride back for only Q20).

Private shuttle boats ("lanchas") to other cities around the lake, such as Jaibalito, San Marcos La Laguna, and San Pedro La Laguna, leave regularly from the "embarcadero" at the foot of the main street, Calle Santander. The cost is about Q15-30 one way (Q5-15 for Central Americans). The larger public ferries are cheaper (Q25 for foreigners) but they only go to Santiago Atitlan (from foot of Calle Rancho Grande, east of Santander) and San Pedro (from foot of Calle del Embarcadero, west of Santander).

Boats to Santiago Atitlan leave from another dock every 30 minutes, and take around 25 minutes to cross the lake. It costs Q25, although locals pay less. To get to the dock, go to the end of Calle Santander, turn left and go until the end of the road, then turn right.

There is no bus station yet, but chicken buses, taxis and shuttle buses congregate at the intersection of Calle Principal and Calle Santander. Fletes (Toyota pickups) can be found near the market. They are the cheapest way to get to nearby towns. They are a great way to meet the indigenous people, who are their best customers.

Chicken bus to Solola costs Q10 & Q30 to Xela.

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Eat

  • Guajimbo's, Calle Santander. The menu notes that their vegetables are disinfected and they use purified water for drinking water and ice. They have the best steaks: huge, grilled to perfection with creative toppings.
  • Las Chinitas, Plaza Los Patios, Calle Santander.. Serving Chinese, Japanese, and Malaysian food in a variety of combinations. On one night the crowd was almost entirely foreigners, with a folk band of gringos playing 60's and 70's American hits. They use purified water for vegetables and drinking.
  • El Patio, in Plaza Los Patios on Calle Santander. Renowned for their Pepian, El Patio is a standard for locals and those who've adopted Lake Atitlan for their home. Street side tables in an enclosed patio area allows you to survey the parade of humanity. Great food and the best Papa's Fritas in Guatemala. Full bar.
  • Lazarronis, in Plaza Los Patios on Calle Santander. Pizzas, international plates, vegetarian choices amongst which is an excellent vegetable lasagna. A great place to have a super tipico breakfast and watch the street.
  • La Terrazza, Edificio Rincon Sai, Calle Santander, ☎ +502 7762-0041. Very good food.
  • Pana Rock, Calle Santander.
  • Circus Bar. Av Los Arboles (only a few steps from Calle Principal). The best pizza in Guatemala. Typically features live bands at night on weekends. Well known place, now with another branch in Antigua.
  • Sunset Cafe, ☎ +502 7762-0003. at the foot of Calle Santander. The tables are located in an open room with gorgeous views over the lake. Cuisine includes Mexican and international dishes. Come for the view, not for the food - it's not that good. Prices are mid-range, with entrees at Q30-40. Enjoy an exotic cocktail or a variety of beers from the bar. The menu notes that their vegetables are disinfected and they use purified water for drinking water and ice. Live Music every night of the week.
  • Anubis Grille, near the corner of Calle Principal and Calle de Arboles, makes the best burger in town and probably the best burger you've had in a while. Try the 'Hungry Wolf' Burger. Q40-50.
  • Dina's Chocolate, If you are a connoisseur of fine chocolates and sweets, make sure you search stop by the small store in downtown Pana, where the calle Santander forks into a "Y" A very special variety is the chile lime! Pricy, but a rare break from Nestle bars in this part of the world!

Solomon's Porch, Inside Comercial El Dorado complex (town center - intersection of Calle Principal and Calle Santander), ☎ +502 7762 6032. Tu- Sat, noon - 10:00pm. The Porch is an internet Cafe and restaurant with live music on the weekends. It also has Pana's best projection cinema with over 500 original movie DVDs to choose from. Towards the bottom of Calle Santander and near the bus stop on Calle Principal there are a number of street vendors selling Tacos, Sweetcorn, Sweet nuts and other snack foods. These are a good cheap option for the budget traveller. The "food court" is on Calle Santander, in front of the elementary school (big curved roof), across the street from the Mayanet internet cafe. Street vendors an be found there all hours of the day and evening.

  • The Last Resort, calle 14 de Febrero (right off of Santander on left, 20 metres). Clean, quiet neighborhood place. Good food, good size portions. Q30-65.
  • Ricassoli Pizza Steak House, Calle Santander, ☎ +502 5770-3100. Cuisine: Italian/Traditional Guatemalan. Provides a delicious typical breakfast plate for only Q20.
  • Restaurante Hana, Calle 14 Febrero interior de Casa Cakchiquel (Near Calle Santander.), ☎ +502 4298-1415. 12-3PM 6-8PM Closed Mondays. Serves traditional Japanese dining in a beautiful, authentic Japanese restaurant. Located inside the historic Casa Cakchiquel.

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Drink

In Pana it is almost a tradition (at least for Guatemalans) to drink and walk up and down the Santander street with a "Litro" in their hands. A "Litro" is a 1 liter bottle of beer. Usually Gallo or Cabro brand. But you can get virtually any drink you ask for.

While you may still drink in the streets in Panajachel, it is no longer as common; only during certain festivities or special events will the party spill out in to the street.

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Sleep

  • Hotel Jere, ☎ +502 7762 2781. Calle rancho grande. Q75 pp per night for room with shower, private room, WiFi, and they arrange tour around the Atitlan Lake.
  • Mario's Rooms, ☎ +502 7762-1313. Calle Santander. Q80 per person/night for room with no shower (shared, not ensuite, and located at the ground floors - might be problematic if you ate at street stalls!), including breakfast, and drinking water. So friendly and helpful. A beautiful courtyard, nice rooms. Free WiFi, albeit a slow but adequate connection.
  • Hospedaje Sanchez, ☎ +502 7762-2224. On the Calle el Chali, (one block from the Calle Santander). If you do not mind shared bathrooms, then this is an excellent place. It is clean, quiet, and comfortable. Cost is about US$5 per night. It is particularly nice to have an upstairs room, where the window on the back wall lets in gentle breezes from the lake. Great lake views from the roof. Convenient to the main road, but you will feel that you are deeply in Guatemala. The Sanchez family are very sweet people, who respect your privacy, but are willing to help you with anything.
  • Villa Lupita, Budget option US$5 per room with shared bathroom. Lovely, family-owned place. Clean and cared for.
  • Grand Hotel, ☎ +502 7762-2940. Calle Principal, ]. Can get busy at weekends due to an influx of visitors from Guatemala City, this hotel has comfortable rooms, a beautiful garden, free WiFi, swimming pool, and restaurant.
  • Primavera. A mid-scale hotel right in the middle of Panajachel. Renovated in 2000, most of the rooms are on the second floor. Around US$40 per night.
  • Hotel Utz Jay, Calle 15e de febreo, (between Calle Santander and Calle Ranchos Grande), utzjay_garcia@yahoo.com. Quiet, nicely decorated rooms with Guate fabrics, artwork, set around a beautiful courtyard with birds and hammocks. Honor system for beers and sodas. Private baths with hot water, and a sauna on the grounds. Continental breakfast included with the room. You can also book boat and other tours here. The owner (Marie Lissette) is very helpful and aims to please. Around US$20.
  • Bungalows El Rosario, on Calle Del Lago, (between Calle Rancho Grande and Calle Ramos). Set on a short cobblestone drive back from the street, with about ten double rooms around a private courtyard. Rooms are clean, simply built with stone and concrete, livened up with bright paint and a few traditional woven cloths and wooden masks for decoration. All rooms have private bathrooms with showers, and hot water available from 6:00h to 22:00h. The idyllic setting is marred by loud disco music from the adjacent restaurants until mid-evening, with the laughter and chatter of other guests after then.
  • Guest House Casa Loma, (on a small side street off Calle Rancho Grande near the Calle de Buenas Nuevas).Has private parking.

Cameron Cottage ('on the Main Street'), e-mail: lakeatitlan@gmail.com. A charming 1 bedroom cottage, with living room, galley kitchen, volcano view. Rent includes cable and utilities. Maid extra. US$450/month.

  • Atitlan Solutions (Vacation rentals in Guatemala), Calle Santander, Comercial San Rafael, Local 4 and 6, ☎ +502 7762 0959. Also providing an option for long term vacation rentals (week/month/year).
  • Hotel El Sol, Salida a Santa Catarina Palopó, Barrio Jucanyá, ☎ +502 7762-6090, e-mail: hotel_el_sol_panajachel@yahoo.co.jp. Check-in: 2:00pm, check-out: 1:00pm. Very clean, quiet and comfortable hotel. It's a bit of a walk from the centre of the town, but well worth it for the free WiFi, (small) hot tub, kitchen and sushi restaurant. Dormitory room Q50, private room from Q150, long term stay discounts.
  • Hospedaje Linda (near the top of Santander on the right hand side, across from Habitat for Humanity & Marvelus Hostel, beside Hospedaje Montufar). Nice, clean and friendly place. Not very social but fabulous hosts. Water from shower head was hot & bathroom reasonably clean. Garden in centre court was lush & gorgeous. Q50 for a single; a 3-person private w/ shared bath Q147.
  • Marvelus Hostel, Calle Capulin 2-16 (50 m from Calle Santander & Calle Principal, on the left hand side of pedestrian street (beside Habitat for Humanity & across from Hospedaje Linda & Montufar)), ☎ +502 5899 9231, +502 7762 0694, e-mail: marvelushostel@gmail.com. Check-in: noon, check-out: 11:30am. In center of town, curfew, bed linens included, free WiFi, large area, and living room. Credit cards not accepted. 9 pax group booking accepted. Standard twin private with shared bathroom): US$9 per person/night. Double bed private with shared bathroom US$9 per person/night. Standard dorm bed; 4-bed &amp' 8-bed mixed rooms US$6 per person/night.
  • Hotel Miralrio, Calle El Amate (Camino a Santa Catarina Palopo), ☎ +502 7762-2291. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 13:00. Free WiFi, cable TV, private restrooms and a garden with all kind of flowers and trees. Clean rooms and secured private parking, rooms have direct view to the lake and volcanoes, staff is friendly and speak some English US$15.00.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet access is widely available. Even most of the more remote areas have some type of internet access available. Many larger areas also have WiFi. All of the Camperos chicken/pizza restaurants (which are numerous) offer free WiFi, as well as many other restaurants and cafes. Some hotels may also offer computer banks with internet access. Just ask and you eventually will find some sort of free access.

If you have a smartphone such as iPhone, Google Android, you just need a local SIM card (roughly Q25) and can start enjoying the prepaid access plans, which generally come in lots of an hour, a day, or a week.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

Guatemala's emergency phone numbers include 110 (police), 120 (ambulance) and 123 (fire). Guatemala's international calling code is 502. There are no area codes. Phone numbers all have eight digits.

The phone system isn't great, but it works. Tourists can call abroad from call centers, where you pay by the minute. It is also easy to purchase a calling card to use at public pay phones. The phones there do not accept money, so to use a public phone on the street you must purchase a telephone card. Typically, the cost is around 8 quetzals for a 10-min call to North America, and slightly more to Europe. Cell phones are quite cheap and calling overseas through one can get as low as $0.08 a min. If you are planning to stay for a while and plan to use the phone, you should consider buying a cheap prepaid phone. Wireless nation-wide internet access for laptops is also available as a service from some companies. Telefónica has good coverage with their PCMCIA EV-DO cards.

Post

El Correo is the national postal company in Guatemala. It offers a wide range of services, including sending cards and packages both domestically as well as internationally. Most Guatemalan towns have a post office, although your best bet is to send mail from a large city. Service at El Correo is improving, thanks to consultation and assistance from Canada Post. Most post offices open from 8:30am to 5:30pm. Airmail letters to North America and Europe cost from Q6.50 and take a week or two to arrive. High-end hotels can usually send your mail for you, too. Expect packages you send through the Guatemalan mail system to take a very long time to arrive. They usually get there in the end, but it's worth paying extra for recorded delivery (correo registrado). Many stores can ship your purchases for you, for a cost. Valuable items are best sent with private express services. Couriers operating in Guatemala include DHL, UPS, and FedEx. Delivery within two to three business days for a 1-kg package starts at about Q500.

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This is version 3. Last edited at 9:55 on Feb 2, 18 by Utrecht. 3 articles link to this page.

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