We took a tourist shuttle to Lake Atitlan. For once I must disagree with Huxley, it did not make me long for the Home Counties although, to be honest, the volcanoes were shrouded in mist. The lake is very pretty though Panajachel (where we were taken) is a total tourist trap and somewhat tacky. We refused a number of trips on lanchas (although some were very reasonably priced) and headed for one of the restaurants built out over the lake for breakfast.
After breakfast we managed to find the wildlife reserve. This is, I think, privately owned. It used to be a shaded coffee plantation but they have allowed the jungle to grow back and they encourage the wildlife. They have some coatis from a zoo breeding programme and a small group of spider monkeys hang out around the viewing platform (where visitors can feed them bananas, available from the visitor centre at reasonable cost). We watched the monkeys for a while then headed off along the 'long' nature trail - takes about 2 hours if you stop a lot to look around you. This led over a number of suspension type bridges, past a very attractive waterfall then on
up through the old plantation which is now forest. We saw lots of butterflies and some squirrels. We tried to spot birds but they do hide amongst the foliage. We saw one that was very red and Ashley thinks it was a trogon. Maybe it was. It was, at any rate, very red.
The walk itself was a lot of fun. When we were finished we went into the butterfly reserve but saw less butterflies there than we had on the nature trail. Maybe they were all pupating (there were cages with pupae in them). After that we went back to the viewing platform where we watched a spider monkey climb down onto the ground to pick up bananas then run back up into the higher branches to peel and eat them. I have some photos of that.
We walked back into town (it's all of one kilometre) and went to the museum which has some very interesting history of the Maya of the region and the geology of the lake itself. It also has some ceramics which were found in the lake. After that we went to another one of the restaurants over the lake for a
limonada, getting back to where we had to catch the shuttle in good time.
The shuttle came back over the highlands - we were looking down on clouds. It took us a while to get back due to some traffic jams round roadworks but we came back a different way from the way we went and the views, both ways, were spectactular.
We got some beer from the shop and drank it on the hotel terrace, then another litre of Gallo in Riki's bar. Dinner was excellent again - we went back to the Fondo de Calle Real. Ashley had the Caldo Real (which is delicious) and I had chillis rellenos. Couple of beers later we returned to the hotel.
We have a shuttle booked to the Central Square in Guatemala city at 12:30. Hoping to book back into Posada Belen tonight which will give us an easy run to the airport tomorrow morning...
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