Lake Atitlan looking to Indian Nose
Though we are staying in San Pedro la Laguna we choose to spend the day in San Juan. It’s only 5 minutes by boat (lancha) from San Pedro but it’s a world away in atmosphere. Surprisingly San Juan wasn’t mentioned in our guidebook otherwise we would have considered staying here.
These are both villages around Lake Atitlan. There are at least 5 other villages here popular with visitors, each with their own distinct character. The lake is perhaps the 2nd
most popular tourist destination in Guatemala after Antigua so has plenty of tourist infrastructure. San Pedro wasn’t our chosen destination here as it is considered to be the party village, but there was no bus to Panajachel for 2 hours and the San Pedro bus was ready to leave so we took it. Actually San Pedro isn’t too much of a party town, the young crowd seem to be mainly in one large hostel and the rest of the village is pretty quiet.
San Juan is a much more traditional village than San Pedro. It is a centre for local weaving, it has a chocolate factory (bars and cocoa but no cake!) scenic murals and naturally a cemetery and
Murals in San Juan
Surprisingly there isn’t actually a huge amount to do at the lake. From San Pedro there are 2 popular hikes, one to the summit of the neighbouring San Pedro volcano and the other one to a viewpoint known as Indian Nose, due to ridgeline as seen from the lake shore. I’m tempted by the volcano hike but decide not to do any serious hiking for now. Both are offered as guided tours, perhaps because most of the trails here have poor reputation for robbery – in fact even walking between villages isn’t recommended.
We finally do make it to Pana as we take the boat here to catch a bus onto Antigua. We have just enough time here before our bus to walk out to the Nature Park which is just outside of town. This turns out to be excellent, and though I don’t get manage many good photos we do see Spider Monkeys and Coatis (a mother and 4 babies) quite close. There is also a butterfly enclosure here which is also very good.
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