Paradise. That one word alone sums up the natural wonder that is Lake Atitlan. The lake was formed by a volanic eruption and is the deepest lake in Central America and we think that this paradise trumps white sandy beaches and palm trees any day of the week. While located at a cool 5,000 feet above sea level, the mountainous region is deep, tropical green, the blue waters reflecting the bluest of skies sky.
When we first passed through Guatemala back in 2015 we were in a mad rush to get to the Overland Expo in the USA, so we didn’t experience Lake Atitlan like many other travelers do. We were always told of this place where many overlanders get “stuck” for a while, a place of absolute serenity and beauty.
Thee rumors were all true. Lake Atitlan is gorgeous and the view is stunning, especially from a campsite called, Pasajcap in San Marcos la Laguna. We were so impressed with the lake and surrounds that we concluded that this has to be one of the most beautiful places we have ever seen, and we have traveled to over 70 countries by land.
The drive down to the lake is treacherous, whether braving it in your own vehicle or via public transport (Guatemalans are known for their manic driving techniques). But once settled in your hostel, hotel or campsite, there is ample public transport via bus, tuk-tuk or water taxi to take you touring around the lake.
The four most popular and well-known villages are:
If you’re looking for a spiritual awakening and are comfortable in hippy pants and walking barefoot, this is the spot for you. Yoga spots, vegan restaurants, retreats and workshops are in abundance and is easily one of the most relaxed villages around the Lake.
The shopping district with banks, restaurants, souvenirs and tour agencies. You can also hire a kayak for the day or organize a hike with a tour guide up the volcano or paraglide down the side of a volcano. This village is the starting point for many activities around the area.
Party on! A party goers delight with hotels, backpackers and Spanish schools as well as several spots to experience a pub crawl. For the morning after, I suggest a soak in the hot thermal pools, a cooking class or weaving with the locals.
If you’re looking for some tapestries and souvenirs, this is a great spot to find them. But if you’re feeling a little more energetic and need a change of pace, there are several trailheads for easy to strenuous but rewarding views.
Although the temperatures don’t vary much and it feels like Spring on most days, when hot, you can take a dip in the Lake from one of many jumping off spots.
You will only need a few days to explore all the sights of Lake Atitlan but if not in a rush, why not stay a week, a month or two.
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