Pages Navigation Menu

Lake Atitlán, “the most beautiful lake in the world”

The night was getting darker as the boat sped along the lake, the moon wasn’t quite up yet. Only visible lights were coming from the villages around the lake, you could barely see the shores. Best you could do was to hope that the captain knew what he was doing.

[Not a valid template]

We had heard that it would be best to get a boat early, as the lake would get more choppier during the day and the evening. Well, good advice, but doesn’t really help when you arrive around 5pm or so.

Some twelve hours earlier I had boarded a bus in San Cristobal by myself. That was the second time on this trip that I’ve gotten on a bus by myself. Before we had arrived to our destination of Panajachel in Guatemala, I had found a Dutch girl and also Canadian who had the same destination as me, San Pedro La Laguna on Lake Atitlan.

[Not a valid template]

So it was a matter of crossing the border from Mexico to Guatemala. First we got our passports stamped on the Mexican side, and then walked on to the Guatemalan side. Things got a little more interesting, as apparently there was a 20 peso or 10 quetzal fee, which everybody wasn’t being asked to pay, and which didn’t exactly seem very official, but oh well, not going to make a fuzz over £1 with the officials at a border crossing.

We switched to slightly worse off bus, and the roads also seemed to get slightly worse as we got into Guatemala. But what the roads were lacking, the views were making up for. The mountainous scenery was keeping us fixed to the windows kilometer after kilometer. After few more hours we arrived to Panajachel and caught the last boat of the evening to San Pedro at seven.

[Not a valid template]

It’s a small village (population of 13,000) on the shore of Lake Atitlán with the volcano of San Pedro behind it, quite possibly giving the name to the village. You could walk up the mountain, but we were feeling too lazy for that, so we just settled for touring the other villages of Lake Atitlán.

[Not a valid template]

Apparently there had been flooding a year ago, which was quite visible everywhere on the shore line, some buildings were still partly under water, and boats were now using new hastily build docks. The lake doesn’t actually have any rivers flowing from it (the word here is Endorheic), so no one can say if or when the water levels are going to drop.

There is apparently a theory that sometimes a crevice at the bottom of the lake opens up and drains some of the watter, but don’t know if there is much proof to that. But then again, the lake is over 340 meters deep, and mostly uncharted, so who knows what’s in there.

[Not a valid template]

[Not a valid template]

But San Pedros is definitely a very chilled out place, things happen at a lower pace, and competition keeps prices at a very reasonable rate. There are loads of good restaurants, but unfortunately some of the more active Christians are trying to get bars to close at 11pm. But so far, that hasn’t seemed to work too well. So better check it out before they get their way.

[Not a valid template]

After chilling out at San Pedro, we took a bus to Antigua, which is very expensive compared to Lake Atitlan and touristy, I moved on very quickly from there, a bit more about that in a few days.