Come with us on our Lake Atitlán Tour and discover beautiful nature and the history of the ancient Mayan community. You will visit the remainders of the last capital of the Kaqchikel kingdom, the Iximche ruins; relax alongside Lake Atitlán; and take in the overwhelming sights, and experience Mayan culture by visiting four very distinct Mayan Villages found on the banks of the lake. Many visitors regard Lake Atitlán as the most beautiful lake they have ever seen, or possibly even the most beautiful site all together.
After a 3 hour’s drive, you will arrive at Lake Atitlán called “the closest thing to Eden on earth” by Lonely Planet. Lake Atitlán, a crater lake formed around two million years ago, is nestled between three majestic volcanoes, mountains, and twelve different Mayan villages.
In addition to beautiful nature, the surroundings of Lake Atitlán offer many possibilities for cultural activities. The Mayan community found at the lake has many unique indigenous villages that are all worth exploring individually. Each village differs in size and traditions. On this tour, we will show the variety by visiting four: Panajachel, San Antonio Palopó, San Juan La Laguna, and Santiago Atitlán.
Panajachel, also known as Pana, the most popular and accessible of the villages, is where the night’s accommodation is located. Pana offers natural beauty, easy travel connections, and a great base for exploring the surrounding Mayan villages. You will enjoy lunch with a view here and have plenty of time to explore the town and shop for some nice souvenirs that are much cheaper here than in Antigua.
On the first day, you will visit the village of San Antonio Palopó where you can discover an authentic Mayan community. Almost all locals wear the traditional ‘trajes’ and speak the local Mayan languages. We’ll travel by bus to this Mayan village for a ceramic workshop where you will meet local Mayan artisans, learn about ceramic production and participate by painting your own ceramic!
On day two, the tour continues by visiting two additional Mayan villages: San Juan La Laguna and Santiago Atitlán, traveling by lancha, the local boat system. San Juan La Laguna is considered one of the more traditional villages around the lake and is off-the-beaten track from most tourist destinations. Thanks to the friendly locals and colorful buildings you’ll get a glimpse of the real Mayan community. You will first visit a local women weavers’ textile cooperative to learn about and participate in the process of ancestral weaving and see how different plants are used to die the fabric with natural colors. Here you will enjoy a traditional local lunch. Following your meal, you will visit an art gallery, where you’ll see the beautiful artworks and learn about the techniques that were used to create them. The final stop in San Juan is another community cooperative producing medicinal plants and herbal products. Here you will learn about traditional Maya healing and how to make organic shampoo, creams, and tea.
The final Mayan village and destination of the Lake Atitlán Tour is Santiago Atitlán, another traditional village that every visitor should see during their stay. Santiago is the capital of the Tz’utujil Maya and the largest of the lake communities. The tour will start with a search for the house where the Maya God Maximon is living, as his location changes every year when a new cofradía or brotherhood has the privilege of taking care of him. Once we find Maximon, you may see local shaman performing rituals for the Mayans. You will then visit the town center and church where you will learn more about the history of this traditional town. We will finish our trip by visiting Santiago’s market and the large arts and crafts scene it offers, then returning to Antigua.
Interested in bringing a group on this Lake Atitlan getaway? Please send us a message to [email protected] we’d love to tailor your trip to your needs and wishes.