"Tourist Trap Worth Visiting" Lago de Atitlán by atufft
Lago de Atitlán Travel Guide: 172 reviews and 416 photos
Despite the tourists, the Mayan culture is evident and robust in this part of Guatemala, if not elsewhere. The Mayan vendors we talked to frequently claimed to know more than one Mayan dialect, in addition to Spanish, and often spoke surprisingly good English. The atmosphere at Panajachel is decidedly touristy, with a thatched tropical motif in both the building and drinks. After arrival and hotel check-in, we immediately proceeded to the gravely waterfront of Panajachel to find among the rustic establishments a place to eat that also enjoyed a comfortable view of the lake. We had traveled for several days with less than the best in terms of food, lodging, and transportation, so it was time to relax and enjoy the spoils of rank tourism.
Panajachel is crammed with vendors along the main drag leading to the water front. Prices are higher here than in some of the market towns, but the selection is generally very good. We spent a lot of time trying on clothes, and after we were inspired by the use of colorful blankets as curtains in our Panachel hotel room, we decided such a trick would work well in a new house addition being finished back home in California. The wealth of color and texture in Guatemalan fabrics is quite amazing, and this is one of the few places in the world were traditional garments outsell the ubiquitous souvenir T-shirt.
Rather than pay a king's ransom for a tour of the lake, we paid the nominal fee to ride the ferry across the lake to Santiago. The deepest lake in Central America, Lago Atitlan has a stunning deep blue hue. At Santiago, the shopping continued, as my wife bought a beautifully embroidered poncho that she plans eventually to tailor into an outfit. After more than a week of tromping through Mayan temple ruins and riding rough on chicken buses, I simply enjoyed the relaxing beauty of the lake and it's three volcanoes, and the conversation with a fellow tourist with whom I routinely communicate even now. Almost directly across the lake from Panajachel, inside one of the few coves of this wonderfully deep lake, the harbor of Santiago Atitlan keeps many traditional plank boats. I did not realize at the time that this village was just a few years earlier subject to particularly brutal human rights by government forces. Fortunately, during our stay, the former president responsible for this sad period in Guatemala's history was soundly defeated at the polls. However, all politics is easy to forget in this lovely tourist trap.
- Pros:Lago Atitlan has excellent weather all year around
- Cons:Perhaps a bit touristy
- In a nutshell:A great hang-out for a day or for an entire retirement...
Many tourists want a private boat, but sharing is the custom for even these, and the costs will be $15 or more for a... more travel advice
We didn't book any reservations for the entire trip, but when we arrived in the afternoon in Panajachel, I did worry... more travel advice
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