A little more Lake Atitlan

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A little more Lake Atitlan Guatemala

Lake Atitlan is a truly a magical place the lake is incredible and I've come to fully understand why so many people are attracted to this small fragment of the world. From the Lake we moved on to Antigua and watched as a volcano erupted right in front of our eyes, along with the spectacular scenes around the lake we got to witness something most people won't see in their lifetime from our hostel balcony. These photos barely do any justice to Lake Atitlan but any hellish chickeny chicken bus through Guatemala is well worth these views. Believe me, I know.

Guatemala at a glance

 Language: Spanish 

 Currency: Quetzal

 Street food: $2-$5 - Empanadas

 Restaurant food: $5 - Watch out fast food restaurants and chains in Antigua

 Drinking: $1-$2 for local Cerveza

 ATMs: Be aware of card skimming scams 

 Chicken Bus: Depends on journey - Great value for budget travellers

 Sleeping: Lake Atitlan =Hostels Antigua = Hostels $10 for a dorm $18-$20 private with en suite

All prices in US Dollar

Photos from Lake Atitlan, Guatemala - A little more Lake Atitlan

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Photo taken from San Marcos the looking out across the lake at Volcan San Pedro
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The keenest fisherman of all time. Total number of catches? Debatable
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Finally finding someone on the lake side - Most of the land by Lake Atitlan has been eaten up by the water

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The second keenest fisherman looking risky on a homemade canoe


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Enjoy the depths of Lake Atitlan

Lake Atitlan hotels and hostels 

Lake Atitlan has a whole range of hotels and hostels to suit any budget. For the budget option and for backpackers it is cheapest to stay in a dorm room. For low-mid range travellers it is also cheap to stay in a private shared bathroom accommodation on Lake Atitlan in a hostel. For mid-range budgets there are a wide range of Hotels on Lake Atitlan. Lake Atitlan Hotels vary depending on destination. Panajachel being the priciest of the lakeside resorts to stay on. Try La Casa del Mundo has great views of the lake, the hotel has a large terrace/balcony that guests can enjoy.

In San Marcos on Lake Atitlan there are also a range of Yoga retreats and quirky hotels and hostels that can be enjoyed by tourists. Some of it is a little out there be warned.

If you do decide not to book a hotel as high quality hostels are available as another accommodation option on Lake Atitlan I recommend you stay clear of Hostel Fe in San Pedro. Its a great place for eating and drinking with some of the cheapest drinks and best food in San Pedro but the rooms are terrible and from our experience the bed sheets do not often get changed. You can party all night here and even cure your hangover with a lake jump from their platform. The only upside to staying here is the delicious free breakfast.

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Posing/trying to take the perfect Lake Atitlan photo

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Its not rare to see locals using the lake for various things such as washing their clothes



Choosing your Lake Atitlan destination - Lake Atitlan Villages

So there are actually a lot of villages around Lake Atitlan, some of the most popular Lake Atitlan Villages being Panajachel as I've mentioned San Pedro and San Marcos and also San Juan. Each one of the Lake Atitlan villages has its own unique flare so it's crucial to research before choosing you Lake Atitlan village destination. 

We arrived initially in Panajachel and then left straight for San Pedro staying there and only visiting the village of San Marcos. Work out which Lake Atitlan village best suits you and visit others with the water taxis that ferry tourists between each village.  

Panajachel isn't the number one hotspot around the lake although it's the destination most people arrive at first. Most people find, as we did, that Panajachel overpriced and overcrowded. Take some time to work out which Lake Atitlan Village works best for you and try to avoid Panajachel if possible to save some money on a budget trip to Guatemala. 

A little more Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
Swatting up on Lake Atitlan from Panajachel 

If I could recommend anything? Do more than one village, the boat taxis are cheap and regular just be vigilant, a lot of local swindle tourists by pretending to have a boat and take your money and the boat never materialises. This happens in Panajachel quite often to backpackers arriving from Xela and heading straight on the other villages, hence why it's better to avoid Panajachel altogether. Take some time to enjoy what Lake Atitlan has to offer. 

Spanish lessons and homestays are widely available around Lake Atitlan and each of the villages offer a unique living experience. We also found Spanish lessons in Guatemala  to be cheaper than in other Central American cities, the homestay option works out as the best value package but others stay in hotels and hostels whilst learning Spanish too. Guatemala is said to have the easiest accent for learning Spanish which also attracts toruists hoping to brush up on their Espanol. 


A little more Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
Thanks for having us Lake Atitlan - You are stunning


Lake Atitlan, Guatemala - Survival guide

Getting to and around Lake Atitlan

Chances are you'll be arriving to one of the Lake Atitlan villages on a chicken bus -  a Guatemalan speciality. Ask around before jumping on a bus to find out the village they are going to. Don't be afraid to say no to bus drivers. There's always a sense of urgency with Guatemalan bus travel and this extends to Lake Atitlan. Plenty of busses leave around the clock so if you are unsure ask someone or look for other backpackers. 


Money, currency and ATM's

We ran out of cash in San Pedro - one of the Lake Atitlan villages. The cash points all conveniently stopped working during our stay and this led to us having to start a tab in our hostel. Like many areas of Guatemala and Central America as a whole small change and smaller denominations of currency are hard to come by. ATM's Cash points can also be temperamental, I advise you to carry all the money you will need for your time in Lake Atitlan. 

Language

Don't be surprised if you hear someone speaking Mayan or another ancient language around Lake Atitlan - the various villages of Lake Atitlan are home to several ancient languages along with strong English speaking locals. Many locals will choose to speak their native village language so don't be surprised if Spanish isn't the first language you hear upon arrival.

Things to avoid when at Lake Atitlan

Always check water taxi times when heading to the various Lake Atitlan Villages, different water taxis operate different destinations and you  don't want to be stranded at another settlement around the lake with no way of getting back until the morning. Taxi prices are usually standard and tickets can be purchased on the boat dock or you can pay on board the boats. 

A little more Lake Atitlan, Guatemala - by travelsandmore

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travelsandmore was originally just an outlet to document my travels. It turned into something much more and now its more of an obsession for me than anything else. Thanks for stopping by. Don't forget to subscribe, I'll only ever send you my latest travel related blog posts right to your inbox.