5-DAY Lake Atitlán, Guatemala | South America ITINERARY
Lake Atitlán (The Lake of the South)
Lake Atitlán is a body of water in a massive volcanic crater in Guatemala's southwestern highlands. Ringed by steep, verdant hills, it's known for its Mayan villages and volcanoes with striking pointed cones. The busy town of Panajachel, where vendors sell traditional textiles, is a popular gateway to the lake. On a former coffee plantation, the Atitlán nature reserve offers trails and a butterfly garden, per Google.
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Must do, must see, must try:
Appreciate the hours spent by these women on the loom and the beautiful blankets, etc. they make.
FOOD MUST: PEPIÁN DE POLLO
This is one of the oldest dishes, a stew of curry, rice, tomatoes and meat.
DRINK UP: RUM
Guatemalan rum is produced from sugar cane syrup and it's delicious. Get your hands on Ron Zacapa rum.
The 5-Day Lake Atitlán Itinerary
Hotel: Laguna Lodge Eco-Resort & Nature Reserve (Include airport drives; $$)
Avoid the hurricane season and heavy rains from August till September; all other months are great to visit throughout the year. I visited in June and weather was sunny with no rain.
Do not rent a car. Rely on hotel drivers or attraction drivers to take you to where you need to go. Have local currency for tips and for water taxis.
Lake Atitlán in Guatemala attracts thousands of visitors each year. Besides the Mayan influences, Guatemala offers some the best coffee beans, lush foliage and elegant loomers. Jungle and hiking vacation spot with a touch of tourism that won't break your budget. The atmosphere is ideal for a friends trip.
Evening flight to Guatemala; hotel package includes a pick-up from the airport and drive to hotel
Before leaving the airport, trade currency for local currency in small bills
Venture on your 4-hour drive through the hills on the craziest roads to the waterfront where we got on a public boat taxi to go to the hotel. There is no street access, only by public boat taxi.
Bring a barf bag
7 PM - Dinner at Zotz ($, Vegetarian) in the hotel; it was 3 courses and delicious
Some meals are included in your stay
9 AM - Breakfast at Zotz; best coffee you'll ever had because it's local and came from a farm that morning
10:30 AM – Be adventurous and hike the nature trails behind the hotel; 4 paths that go straight up at the back of the hotel
Things to Find: locate the hammock among the hills and find the abandoned chapel
12 PM - Lunch at Zotz
Rest the remainder of the day; swimming, game room, massages, Jacuzzi or wine
7 PM - Dinner & Drinks at Zotz; another 3 course dinner
9 AM - Breakfast at Zotz with more delicious coffee
10:30 AM – Day in San Juan La Laguna
Get there by taking the public boat taxi across the lake to this small town. The hotel will call over the boat for you. They are also very protective of their guests and want to ensure your safe return so tell them where you are going and when you plan to return.
When you dock, there is a large painting of the city - snap of photo on your phone so you have a map
Explore the city starting with Codeas Women's Weaving Cooperative for dyed cotton and yarn exhibits
Explore the Atrium of the Catholic Church of San Juan; free, time spent 15 minutes
Head to the outskirts but walking to Galeria de arte Ventanas del lago but you're going this direction for coffee fields. The red berries on the road are coffee beans – ask a local farmer to try some then head back to town
12 PM - Lunch at Alma De Colores, try the chicken and a beer
Back to exploring:
Check out local artwork at Galeria Imox
Back your way back to the dock and shop along the way
See more art at Galeria de Arte Chiya
2 PM - Hot chocolate break at Cafe Xocomil where they make ‘real’ hot chocolate; buy a wheel
3 PM - Public boat taxi back to the hotel
5 PM - Nature trails and enjoyed the Jacuzzi
7 PM -Dinner at Zotz; every night is different and even more delicious
9 AM - Breakfast at Zotz with more fresh coffee
10 AM - Venture to Reserva Natural Atitlán (Atitlan Nature Reserve); time spent is 4 hours, $10
Public boat taxi to the marina where a taxi picked us up, which was arranged by the hotel
Think Indiana Jones bridges meets butterfly museum meets breathtaking waterfalls
Lunch at Reserves Natural Atitlán
2 PM - Walk around the town and go shopping; so many shops and they will haggle with you
4 PM - Taxi back to the hotel
7 PM - Dinner at Zotz
Very early flight with a 4-hour drive to the airport
Goodbye Guatemala. Head home.
Travel a GO-Go
Use the Google map on the left to get a lay of the land and see all the fun spots that you'll visit. Download the free PDF by clicking the icon below to have this itinerary at your finger-tips.
How to Use the Map: Click the tab in the top left hand corner to view the layers (days, points of interest, route).
If you click the star, this map will be added to your Google Map account. To view, open your Google Maps, click the menu button "Your Places", select the map and it will open.
Wanted to visit Guatemala and where better to go then a lake surrounded by three volcanoes. My friends and I were looking for a fun getaway that wasn't going to break the bank, so we turned to Groupon and their travel section. Behold, and amazing trip! Guatemala is gorgeous, but this lake is top notch. A tad remote, but we wanted to be in the elements of hiking, local food, limited Spanish, water and activities, and drinks. It was perfect, and ironically I had another friend go here for their honeymoon.
Favorite Moment: Riding the water taxi with the locals and trying out my Spanish. Met a fisherman who wanted to know how to say 'chicken' in English. It was really fun practicing with him and the smile on his face was so big!
Least Favorite Moment: Not realizing that the lake is not ideal to swim in. You can jump in the water but there are not beaches or easy ways in. The hotel had a Jacuzzi that we got to enjoy.