Nestled in the temperate mountainous region of the Western Highlands, Lake Atitlan is a haven for locals and tourists alike. Being only a two and half hour drive from Guatemala’s capital, Guatemala City, and popular colonial town of Antigua, makes Lake Atitlan a very accessible destination. The winning combination of being 15 degrees above the equator and 1,560 meters above sea level makes it the ideal climate - not too hot and never too cold! The sun shines throughout the year, even during the rainy season.
Panajachel is the first stop for most, if not all, buses arriving from Guatemala City and Antigua. It is definitely a place to explore for a day or maybe more, before venturing off to the many Indian villages that are scattered around the lake.
Panajachel or ‘Pana’ as most locals call it, provides stunning views of the three volcanoes that surround the beautiful lake itself - Toliman, Atitlan and San Pedro.
Arrive at dawn and witness the mist clear to reveal the first glimpse of the bluish-green deep waters, the lush banks and the fisherman setting out for the day in old wooden canoes. The faint smell of pine drifts over and for now, this is the most peaceful place on Earth.
During the day Pana becomes a bustling town with many hotels, markets, cafes, and bars. There is always much to see in this colorful place, including the original façade of the old church. This was used to convert Indians into the Catholic faith during the period of the Spanish conquest.
Pana’s busy market street, Calle Sentader, where you find arguably the best souvenirs in Guatemala, is the main strip and generally all bars and restaurants are to be found here.
Stay at the Mario Rooms hostel for its clean rooms, hammock lined balconies, and a roof terrace to enjoy the most fabulous views. Do make sure you leave time to sample the holiday-feel nightlife and the local cuisine. In a country where food is generally bland, here you can find a real treat!
Grab a lakeside breakfast, where the locals will rustle up something tasty that is generally produced in the region. Leave early for one of the many villages that border the lake, all famous for their female weavers and traditional clothing. Whatever your taste, there is a village to suit: from San Pedro’s bohemian ambience to the quiet retreats of San Marcos.