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Published: December 15th 2016
Lake Atitlan... where do I start?! What an absolutely stunning place, this would definitely have to be pretty close to paradise.
We stayed in Santa Cruz, whilst there isn't much happening there this is part of the charm. Our hotel, la Iguana perida, is right by the boat dock. We had no wifi there (which is why the blog is slightly late), and they did 3 course 'family style' dinners every night, not that I'm used to that in our family! This was a great combination for meeting other people, making friends and sharing advice. It really does complete the charm of the place.
There are a couple of other hotels in Santa Cruz and a cafe called CECAP which is run by a cooperative to train local young people, which was well worth the steep walk up hill to get to. The lake sits at just over 1,500m making up hill walks slightly more taxing.
One of the activities on offer ay the lake is scuba diving. I had been looking forward to this since planning the trip. On our dive we visited a partly sunken hotel which was a bit of a novelty! Apart from this we didn't really
see much - the visibility was 5m and I found 1 crab and 1 fish. I am glad I dived here though as it feels different to diving at sea level, so it was a good experience.
One of the other draws of the lake is visiting the little villages dotted along the shoreline. This is very easy to do as shuttle boats come past every 10-15mins, and you just hop on in the right direction (of which there are only 2). The first town I visited was San Marcos. This is a VERY hippy town. You can't go anywhere without meeting long haired baggy trousered hippies staying long term and preaching about their natural ailments for a variety of travel complaints. That said there's also a charm to the place, and a lot of great places to eat fairly cheaply. Definitely worth a visit, but I'm glad we didn't stay there!
Another day we visited San Pedro and San Juan. San Pedro is the main backpacker town, full of bars and tourism, so after a look around and some very cheap freshly squeezed orange juice from the street we moved on. San Juan is famous for its many cooperatives
in coffee, weaving, textiles etc. As a result of this the shops here have different stock to everywhere else, which is very refreshing! We also didn't get hassled much by shopkeepers which makes a nice change.
Another day we walked to the next village called Jaibalito, which is around 25mins away. Whilst there isn't much here there is a bar with an infinity pool and sun loungers which was a great way to spend an afternoon. The lake is also good for swimming in, with a lot of Jetties for jumping off and swimming from. It is a bit chilly, but worth it.
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