*This is Part 2 of 4 posts of my trip to Guatemala city. Here is the link to Part 1. You will find the links to additional post at the end.
There is a 3.5+ hour drive from Guatemala City to Lake Atitlan (LA). You have to drive past Antigua to get there.
We would be circling back to Antigua after our stay in Lake Atitlan. Our Shuttle dropped up off at Panajachel. This town is located at the North shore of LA and the only place where private shuttles take you. From here, you go to the Panajachel docks and take a public boat to the village you’ll be staying. The boat ride should cost between $20-$25. (Suggestion: Don’t let them charge you more than this.) Panajechel is a great place to shop for textiles and souvenirs. It’s also one of the towns you can stay on LA. As soon as you’re dropped off you’re met by the beauty that is Lake Atitlan.
If you’ve ever visited Lake Como in Italy, you may have a bit of nostalgia. Lake Atitlan is just as beautiful but with volcanoes. Lake Atitlan is approx. 18 km wide and 10 km long. Surrounding it is three volcanoes: Atitlán, Tolimán and San Pedro. At its deepest depth it is about 1,100 ft. In comparison Lake Como is about 4 km wide and 47 km long with a maximum depth of 1,358 feet.
We stayed at La Casa Del Mundo which is located in El Jaibalito. The boat ride to the hotel is not for the faint of heart. The boats are old and the water is extremely choppy. (Suggestion: sit in the back of the boat for the easiest ride) However, this is the way people travel back and forth all day, so it’s pretty safe. It takes about 50 minutes to get to La Casa Del Mundo from Panajachel and the boats make several stops to transport other travelers along the way.
The hotel sits on a cliff on the edge of the lake and is surrounded by colorful gardens. There are a lot of steps, that you have to climb daily to get to various parts of the hotel grounds. Even if you are in shape, these stairs will leave you winded. They have one restaurant and bar. There is a jacuzzi that you have to pay for and book for private usage. We were told that there was no room service. The hotel employees were very nice, but very slow with service. The language barrier is real if you don’t speak good English. The food was ok, when it came, but I appreciated the fact that they had tofu. Despite all of this, the hotel is absolutely charming. There are breathtaking views all over the hotel and places that you just can’t help but sit and admire.
Before we left we actually met the owner and builder. He is American and his wife is Guatemalan. They met in Alaska. You can read all about their story and how La Casa Del Mundo came to be here.
We had the best room at La Casa Del Mundo, with amazing views of the lake and volcanoes from our patio(2). (Suggestion: Ask for room 20) The only things I didn’t care for were the bed and the lack of working wifi. The beds were too hard and very uncomfortable and the wifi was extremely unreliable.
But I would put up with hard beds and no wifi, to wake up to this everyday.
Our arrival day, we relaxed at the hotel.
But on day 2 we booked a tour, with the hotel, to visit some of the surrounding villages. The tour was a little pricey, as to be expected when you book through a hotel. (Suggestion: If you are tight on money, use the public boats as transportation to and from the villages and explore on your own.) We visited San Pedro, San Juan and Santiago. The towns are so cute. We visited some markets. Attended a weaving demonstration. We basically did the tourist thing for a day. The lake was very choppy on this day and one of the benefits of having a tour guide is the knowledge and ability to pivot. Our guide booked us a tut tut to get from San Pedro to San Juan to avoid one of the boat rides.
The next day we were headed to Antigua. I would have loved more time in Lake Atitlan to explore more villages and to learn. We didn’t even explore the village where we were stayin, El Jaibalito. Two nights is not enough to fully explore Lake Atitlan; it is only enough time to gaze upon its beauty and touch the surface. I could spend 2 days here just looking at it. Hence all the pictures…