Blogs from Lago de Atitlán, Western Highlands, Guatemala, Central America Caribbean


Our little bus twists and turns through the hills of Los Altos for a couple of hours. The drive is interesting but not spectacular. But then Lake Atitlan appears below us, blue and sparkling with a backdrop of cone-shaped volcanoes. Beautiful. The road drops steeply down to Panajachel, the large village on the lake shore where we are to stay. From the shore the scene is just as impressive, the cone of Volcano San Pedro standing across the lake, wreathed in cloud in an otherwise cloudless sky. The sun sets, obligingly, over the lake. Spectacular. As we watch it fade away, we order our first fajitas of the trip. It is a great way to end the day. We spend the next day on the lake, visiting four of the villages that dot its shore. Some ... read more
Traditional dress
San Pedro volcano

11/01/15 Via Antigua naar San pedro La Laguna- Lago Atitlan. Ondertussen zijn we 30 januari, een dikke 3 weken geleden dat ik nog een update gedaan heb van mijn blog en eigenlijk simpelweg niets geschreven in de laatste 3 weken. Reden? 3 weken intensieve Spaanse les = geen energie, of misschien eerder te veel energie om terug aan een bureau te gaan zitten in de namiddag of avond! Man, ben ik blij dat ik niet meer hele dagen op de schoolbanken moet zitten. De eerste week nam ik les in San Pedro in een klein schooltje " Flor del Maiz", bloem van mais.. de rode draad wat het leven betreft voor de vele Maya dorpen, tortillas..maismaismais... Rondom de steden en dorpen heb je enorme maisvelden en koffieplantages.. overal eigenlijk in Guatemala. Fantastisch sfeertje, een zes tal ... read more
"Indian Nose
..Indian Nose

When the eight Indian women and their chicken got on the boat in San Marcos the water was already within a foot of the gunwales. We hugged the coast barging south through the chop towards San Pedro. The women, sitting in a huddle in the bow, laughed non-stop. Their mouths opened wide with every chicken punchline they tossed out. Their teeth were rimmed in 24 Karat gold like little tabernacle doors. The white hen rested calmly in a blue plastic milk crate pondering its future. We're on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. We stuck Atitlan at the end of our trip when we decided to fore-go Patagonia until next year if we can last that long. We had long thought about Guatemala but I guess we put it off because it wasn't a 12-hour flight away. It's ... read more
Lake Atitlan
Our First Ride In
Toliman and San Pedro Volcanoes

We took a shuttle from San Cristobal back to Guatemala stopping at Panajachel on the shores of Lake Atitlan. We had organised a bike tour online prior to arriving as we thought this would be a good way to see some of the different communities around the lake. By the time we arrived we had not received a confirmation of the time or meeting place even though we had paid a deposit. They had asked where we were staying we thought they must be picking us up, but in the morning when no one arrived we phoned the office to be told we were supposed to be there half an hour ago. We took a tuk tuk to the shop as quickly as we could and were given bikes before heading off to catch a chicken ... read more
Chichicastenango market
Atitlan Nature Reserve
Lake Atitlan

Up at 05:40 again, coffee, breakfast and off to the airport to fly to Guatemala City, then continue by van to Lake Atitlan. Airport was entertaining; they have a single lady physically checking bags before you even enter the airport, and she opens it up, feels around in 2 or 3 places and then hands it back to you. Funny as really, it’s so not useful for catching anything, but hey, easier then dealing with American airports! Then we checked in, wandered through security (with water and a fresh delicious coffee!) and waited for our flight. Random Thought of the day: Guatemalans do love their deep fried chicken! Every where you go there are shops, stands, street vendors (literally) in tiny villages selling deep fried breaded chicken. Sure there are not a shortage of chickens here ... read more
Lake Atitlan
Lake Atitlan
SLR Image

Weaving with ants. This week I have spent the afternoons with Maria and her grandson, who I have been teaching to count in English. He is stuck on 8. Likes to go from 7 to 9 . Makes sense in a Guatemalan kind of way. Maria has been teaching me traditional backstrap weaving . We sit on low stools (enter the ants) , the weaving suspended hammock style, one end on a hook banged into the roof and the other connected round my middle (hence the backstrap). Several hours spent setting it all up and then the weaving which took much patience from Maria till I got the hang of it. I am producing something that wouldn’t look out of place on a deckchair but am very proud of it. Then its a beer to recover ... read more
Weaving with maria and ants
Sunset on Lake Atitlan

8am in overloaded tuk tuk, heading up the mountainside at the beautiful Lake Atitlan wee village of San Pedro . I’m in the middle of Guatemala with German friend Regine, on board with her Mayan teacher Don Pedro, his daughter Marina and 2 grandchildren and a bag with candles, fire kindle, resin balls, liquor, cigars, all the materials for sacred fire ceremony on the mountain. 3 hours later hurtling back down in a luge like run and just as dangerous! very hot and smelly but all hopes surpassed, ceremony complete and enjoy the photos to just get a wee sense of this very special contact with the holy places of nature Mayan style. I met my friend who just happened to be in the beautiful colonial city of Antigua and we decided to travel to lake ... read more
Fire ceremony
Antigua 2013 011
Antigua 2013 007

I walked this three-day, 48 km hike through Quetzaltrekkers (, so this is mainly a review of their organized trek. Typically I like to walk alone, but the trail would be impossible to follow without a guide, and apparently some areas are too dangerous to attempt alone. The first two days are pretty strenous, with lots of shifts in altitude, pretty technical walking actually, with pretty nice views of the forest. At one point one the first day there was a marked difference in the scenery when the group reached the highest altitude of the trip. We emerged from the forest to see beautiful highland farms. Other than the views of the lake, this was a highlight for me. You can read other details on their website. The guides facilitate good camaraderie in the group and ... read more
Lago Atitlan
Soccer pitch

ARRIVAL IN SAN JUAN I walked to San Juan from Indian Nose, the admittedly majestic shape of a facial profile on the Northwestern end of the lake. This was on the tail-end of my backpacking trip with Quetzaltrekkers. Most people arrive in Panajachel or San Pedro, however. The town seemed traditional and authentic, and could be a refuge from its far more touristy neighbor, San Pedro. It should cost about 5 quetzales per person to take a tuk tuk or pickup truck to San Pedro, the next town. After hearing some horror stories of machete attacks, etc. on the paths between the towns, I hopped in the back of a pickup truck with a few others from the trek for a ten minute standing ride to San Pedro. Every gringo local I asked said it was ... read more
Other Side
Coffee Factory Day Trip
View from Tuk-Tuk

After a week in Xela, I decided that I needed to do something a little different for the weekend before starting Spanish classes. And where better to begin my Guatemalan travels than Lago de Atitlan, which everybody here has been raving about since I arrived? I got up early and caught the microbus to Minerva terminal, where various helpful drivers directed me to the bus to Panajachel. It was a forty minute wait on the bus, during which time vendors scrambled on and off, pushing up and down selling ice creams, sweets, tortillas, newspapers, drinks and essentially anything else portable. The journey took a few hours, then from Panajachel I caught a tuk-tuk to La Reserva Natural Atitlan. This is a privately owned park set in secondary forest over a coffee plantation. Trails across the hillside ... read more

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