Without a doubt, one of the most beautiful lakes in the world! Surrounded by volcanoes, Lake Atitlan is full of natural beauty and fun laid-back vibes.
In 1934, writer Aldous Huxley claimed about Atitlan, “it really is too much of a good thing”. With words like that from an absolute legend, you really need to see it for yourself!
I tend to agree with my boy Huxley ; )
These views were at the end of an awesome three day hike from Quetzaltenango, Guatemala to the lake. From the top of Indian Nose..
- Check out the top left of the mountain. Do you see the outline of a face, with the nose pointing upward? This point is considered Indian Nose.
About the lake: At the deepest point it reaches 340 meters and it has an average depth of 220 meters. The lake is surrounded by a number of villages and I’ll take a quick look at the three most popular towns.
By far the most touristy of the towns surrounding the lake, San Pedro is also the most developed and most popular among backpackers. While there are large numbers of ‘gringo hippies’ walking the streets, the general vibe is relaxed and it seems like a fun place to stay.
If you’re looking to smoke weed and chill near a beautiful lake, there are definitely worse places than San Pedro.
The main 2 streets closest to the water are full of restaurants, bars and small shops. However, as you walk further up the hill, away from the water, the non touristy section of San Pedro starts to show.
A bit more expensive, a few more tourists and seemingly more drugs. Nevertheless, San Pedro is a nice spot – just be aware of what you’re getting in to!
Just a twenty-minute walk from San Pedro, San Juan is my favourite destination on the lake. Almost bereft of tourists, San Juan is a really pretty and low key city!
With wall murals beautifully painted throughout the city, make sure you spend some time to venture into the crevices of San Juan. You won’t regret it!
Just a $15Q ($2USD) water taxi from both San Pedro and San Juan lies the ultimate hippy/holistic retreat, San Marcos!
All green, all natural and completely organic is the theme on this section of the lake. There are a number of yoga centres, workshops and cacao ceremonies (look it up, it’s quite interesting) taking place daily in San Marcos.
If you’re looking for a different type of vacation, San Marcos definitely has a lot to offer. Similar to Sedona, Arizona in the type of programs and services available, San Marcos can be a little expensive for the budget traveller. However, for those with a little bit more disposable income, it’s definitely a cheaper option than back home to take part in cool, informative courses!
I won’t lie, I’m a sucker for basketball courts and San Marcos has a real nice one.. Always helps how I feel about a place ; )
Lake Atitlan is an absolutely beautiful place that is a must visit when you’re in Guatemala! Hopefully I was able to summarize each city a little bit to make things easier when deciding where to stay.
I think San Juan is an ideal home base, as it’s a quick walk or tuk-tuk taxi to the nightlife and shops of San Pedro – without having to be immersed in the touristy aspects all day long. San Marcos is nice to check out, but only for a few hours unless you are looking to take part in a workshop.. AND if you’re looking to party or be amongst many travellers, head to San Pedro.
But ultimately, they’re all great.. Just get here!
Hasta pronto : )