Fancy my world

Lac Atitlan- Le plus beau lac du monde

Lac Atitlan- Le plus beau lac du monde


Half wear masks, the other half do not. Everyone rubs shoulders with no problem or aggression. Everyone assumes and manages their life as they see fit. In transport, rare the times we are asked to put it on.


Pleasant all year round. Average temperatures range from 22 ° (January) to 26 ° (March). The rainiest months are: August, June and September. I recommend the months of January, February, March, April, November, December to visit.


Zone 3 Bus Terminal Quetzaltenango - Los Encuentros 1h by combi 30 qtz
Los Encuentros - Solola 40 mins by chicken bus pour 3.5 qtz
Solola - Panajachel 30 mins with a 2nd chicken bus 5 qtz
The wetsuit trip was huge, I really cried with laughter😂. The driver tells me a 45 mins trip. I can hardly believe it because Google Maps calculates 1h30. Unless I fly, I cannot see. Here he is, and there I better understand his optimism. Wow ! I found it even faster than in Oaxaca. Do not be afraid in the car otherwise you will have a direct heart attack. Being in the mountains, I will not tell you about the bends. The kid behind me vomits all he can. His brother watches him scared to death while hanging on to his father. All the windows are wide open, it is really cold, anti-wrinkle effect guaranteed ! My forehead and my nose are frozen. There is polar cold in the passenger compartment. The kid continues to empty himself. Travel is hardcore for him. I tell myself that at this speed, we will end up going back in time, we will arrive before we left🤣. Parents must be used to it because they had planned the vomit bags. Ahhhh sweet trip ! The co-pilot realizes that the children are sick. we can expect him to ask that we slow down and not at all. Obviously, vomit forms the youth in Guatemala. An old man wears a mask but takes it off to sneeze. Quid ! What is the mask for? This ride is downright entertaining and the scenery even more so.

Ranked among one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, nicknamed Grandmother Atitlan by the Mayas, this place considered sacred, where legends are legions, surprises with its splendor. Different indigenous communities have settled all around, spread over 12 villages still steeped in the Mayan culture. Traditional costumes are also worn there by populations such as Tzutujils and CakchiquelsEach village has its own patterns and colors. Regularly, the wind Xocomil torment him, transforming calm mornings into more hectic midday.

The history of this lake is very interesting. It is the result of the collapse of a volcano 84,000 years ago, so we are facing an ancient magma chamber. 3 volcanoes dominate it: volacanoes San Pedro, Tolimán and  Atitlán. Its beauty makes it a hiker's paradise, the trails offering incomparable views of it. 

Ethnically, Lake Atitlan is located in the heart of a predominantly indigenous region. Here, then, as in Quetzaltenango, the inhabitants converse in a Mayan dialect. concretely, 22 languages ​​are spoken but the main one remains Tzutujil. The women wear stunning traditional outfits with shimmering colors, with each village having its own patterns and colors. 

TOP 10 to visit

What to do in Lake Atitlan?

Lake Atitlan


Lanchas: taxi boats that allow you to move from one village to another on the lake.
Rather nice means of transport to admire the landscape but much less for the wallet. There is no price list displayed, so it is a bit at the face of the customer. For example, a native pays 5 qtz, a local 10 and a tourist 25 for the same trip. There you go! Looking like a Guatemalan in my skin color and hair type, I have always paid 10 without having to explain anything.
Tip: ask locals for the price before leaving and give the exact amount in quetzales when leaving the boat. If he asks for more, tell him that is the price and then leave, he is not going to chase after you. As a benchmark, count 5 per port, do not take into account the private docks. Jaibalito - Tzununa example 5 Jaibalito – San Marcos 10
Jaibalito – San Marcos 10

Lake Atitlan

If this gem is a very interesting place to discover local life, its balance remains very fragile. Today, it is unfortunately very polluted because of human activities in the neighboring villages: introduction of new species of fish, wastewater, pesticides, etc.

He also has to deal with natural phenomena. In February 1976, a violent 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck Guatemala killing more than 26,000 people. The earthquake fractured the lake bed causing underground drainage, which resulted in the drop in water level by 2 meters in a month. In 2007, another earthquake had the opposite effect, partially filling these infiltrations. Since, the level rose about eight meters (one meter in 2012), drowning the banks and ruining neighboring dwellings.

Some say the level has always fluctuated. Moreover, there are only tourists to crowd on the shore, the villages being located in the heights.

The Guatemalan government has costed several million dollars for the work required to make the shores of the lake sustainable; which, in an emerging country, seems impossible to unite alone.


In 1958, to develop tourism in this still little-known lake, Americans suggested the insertion of carnivorous fish that were easy to catch. Result: This predator caused the elimination of more than two-thirds of the species of fish living in the lake and contributed to the extinction of the Atitlan Grebe, a rare bird that only lived in the region.


" The tourist village "

Panajachel is the essential passage because it is the transport center in the region (chicken bus, shuttles, lanchas or even tuktuk). You will surely arrive at the lake at this village. There, you will find La Torre supermarket and many tourist agencies. It is certainly not the most authentic place on the lake, but there is a good atmosphere there. Calle Santander is very famous for shopping, and is hailed among the best in the country. I can say I had a good time there, short but pleasant. From the first day, I met Dona there who runs a chocolate shop. Very nice !

Click on a photo to start the slideshow

Santa Cruz

" Support local social initiative"

Living in Jaibalito, I fell in love with the path that leads to Santa Cruz. It offers incredible landscapes on the lake and the vegetation. The arrival on this small village perched in the heights gives a smile. Many recommend Le Café Sabor which, in addition to offering a breathtaking view of the lake, offers dishes typical particularly well presented for a very low price. The is the fruit of the labor of Los Amigos de Santa Cruz Association. which fights against poverty in the village and supports women in building a professional activity, it is the dishes of the student cooks that you will taste. It's high flight ! On the ground floor, a shop exhibits the creations of the women of the village.

Always useful info, you will also find an ATM there.

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A must to do there: Eagle’s Nest.

The hotel is perched on the side of a cliff and has a yoga platform suspended in the air. The view is breathtaking. Deco side: swings and footstools offer real comfort to relax. Also ideal for digital nomads. The lunch is excellent and the staff very friendly. 


San Marcos

" Le village of strange people "

On the village side, westerners in need of mysticism and locals rub shoulders. It is THE destination for esoteric-natural tourism: a holistic visit to one's inner self with mushrooms, purification ceremony, spiritual retreat centered around yoga and vegetarian cuisine are on the program. For my part, I see it rather as a Disneyland of spirituality which brings together all the bizarroids on the planet. Everyone tries to convince themselves of some kind of pseudo connection using drugs of all kinds. Rather, I see fake hippies who sell yoga and other classes at astronomical prices.

As you can see, I am not a fan of this village which offers a small street where a few multicolored paintings are concentrated, shops with ultra expensive products, and restaurants, for those who cannot be satisfied with spiritual foods.

On the other hand, the municipal park renamed the nature reserve of Cerro Tzankujil is to be done. This park offers us a little greenery, with a view of the lake and the volcanoes in the background. It is even possible to take a dip from the rocks, and for the more adventurous from a 12m platform. 

San Juan

" My favorite "

My favorite ! Life is peaceful there with much less accommodation. The center has a lot of charm with its small colorful houses, its craft shops and its many "murals" of very good quality. I accidentally enter a chocolate shop, a demonstration will start. The saleswoman invites me to join the 2 people present. Explanation on the production followed by a tasting. It contains no preservatives and little or no sugar. The taste and texture are quite unusual but pleasant. Happy, I buy several kinds. My 2 companions came here thanks to a resident of the village who gives them a guided tour. He invites me to join them. Then follows the visit to artisan weavers who explain the different stages of their work. Demonstration on a loom. Everything is 100% natural, the colors are obtained thanks to various plants and are fixed by ash. Oh surprise ! One of them will give an indigo blue or an ash gray depending on whether it is picked during a full moon or not. The quality of the weaving is there and the patterns are superb. We continue with a visit to a cooperative of women who manufactures hygiene and natural health products. We end with a honey factory. Ditto, everything is clearly explained. I learn that there are white honey and black honey. I discover the different kinds of bees. Here they have no sting. Some are tiny and only make half a liter of honey a year. A day full of information and a pleasure for the taste buds and the eyes. This village is by far my favorite.

Click on a photo to start the slideshow
Click on a photo to start the slideshow

San Pedro

" The village dedicated to Spanish courses"

Few of them have a positive image when they arrive and yet… When descending from the lancha, we stroll through somewhat anarchic buildings, in a district dedicated only to tourists called by the locals “gringo land” where bars, souvenir shops , tours and hotels are promoting them. Don not stop there and climb ! Because to appreciate the village, it is necessary to take the height where the church, the market, the authentic one are located ! The walk in the alleys becomes more pleasant and allows to admire the street art and the colorful shops. Although famous for its nightlife, the village is mainly specialized in Spanish courses at really good prices. The schools offer accommodation packages included with individual lessons. A bargain !

The Rostro Maya hike

" named Indian Nose "

Tourists call itIndian Nose because the mountains draw the face of an Indian lying down. But for your information, know that the locals do not like to be called that.

It is sold as The most beautiful point of view on Atitlan. False ! He offers One of the most beautiful on the Lake Atitlan. Nuance ! To do this hike, you will have to go with a guide. Why will you tell me?

Well, this one is to be done knowing a minimum of the context. There are rumors that men equipped with machetes are waiting for tourists to hold them up and do not hesitate to be violent in case of refusal. The situation is well known in the area, some guides are even in cahoots. And yes, racketeering and fear make for a pretty juicy business. Basically, a guide will cost you between 100 and 120 quetzals. RV around 4:00 am in San Pedro. The goal is to watch the sunrise at the point of view, so you have to start early. Details of the hike on Alltrails. 

Please note that some agencies will only take you to the platform located below the nose.


In general, tourists tell stories of people being held up at various places on the lake, very true stories. So be careful ! Personally, I walked around where I wanted without ever having had a problem. Having said that, maybe this is due to the fact that with my skin color, many people take me for a Guatemalan and just say hello. I have never paid the price of tourists on the lanchas. Suddenly, it is difficult for me to tell you that you will be safe.


"The character Maximon"

The main attraction of this village is the no less enigmatic character, Maximon. A sort of idol resulting from the syncretism between the Mayan world and the Catholic religion and revered by some inhabitants. The faithful bring him offerings (including alcohol and cigars) in an atmosphere I would not say festive but creepy or even folkloric.

As we arrive (Amit, Soumia and I), a ceremony takes place. From my point of view, it sounds very masquerade. Soumia looks at me just as dumbfounded. The faithful, kneeling in front of Maximon, must leave a lot of money, gets spit alcohol on him and so on. I was able to film the scene and take pictures. Once finished, the men responsible for the cult demand money from us, an amount of 15 qtz for the entrance, ditto for each photo and 30 for the video. Big headache with them of course. But the math is quickly done: there are 3 of us in an alley in the middle of nowhere facing 8 men. We reason Soumia who does not let go of the case like that, a pitbull, I love it 😂. We each pay entry. Frankly for that price, I am not going to put myself in danger. I tell them I erased video and photos and voila. Ahhh what adventure !

Click on a photo to start the slideshow

Santa Catarina Palopo

"The village where we see life in… blue"

In Panajachel, Tuk tuk or public collectivo can take you to Santa Catarina for a damn price but I advise you to make the path on foot from Panajachel. You will see several points of view on the lake, a mirador with an exceptional view with the village offering its colors on arrival in the middle of the green vegetation against the backdrop of the mountainous landscape by the lake. A postcard ! I also stopped for a coffee in one of the establishments along the descent to the village, which offers a breathtaking view of the lake and its volcanoes. Be careful though: the waiter tried to charge me for the view when paying the bill. Lol. It is written nowhere so I do not pay. End of story ! To be honest, there is not much to do in this village where local life is concentrated around the central square and the school. but it offers an authentic and colorful experience. Old rides were installed near the lake, it reminded me of my childhood.


" named Chichi "

 🚌Panajachel- Solola combi or chicken bus 5 qtz, Solola-Los Encuentros 3.5 qtz, Los Encuentros - Chichi 5 qtz. Be careful because the last portion is just delirious. They crowd a maximum of people on the seats. We are 3 per seat initially planned for 2. I thought my neighbor was going to end up on my knees.😂

Commonly known as Chichi, it is the most colorful market in Guatemala. It is held on Thursday and Sunday every week. If you are looking for a cute souvenir to bring back from Guatemala, this is the place. You can find absolutely everything: traditional masks, bags, purses, fabric, embroidered belts, an incredible collection of women's clothing with embroidered fabrics in vibrant colors, flowers, food, pottery, funny objects that look like they came out of Mayan ruins. Tourists and locals live together in this anthill. Special mention for a saleswoman of wool and chickens: all exhibited next to each other. In the center, under cover are the places of restoration. I advise you to visit the 2 churches located on either side of the market, just like in Chamula in Mexico, the Mayan cults have become embedded in Christianity. It is always surprising ! This market immerses you in the Guatemalan atmosphere. A Guatemala difficult to grasp, torn between strong traditions and modernity, between mistrust of the gringos and openness to tourism.

The zipper

I love my backpack, a gift my daughter gave on my last birthday. I use it all the time because I am constantly traveling. The zipper of the small front pocket is broken. It is annoying because that is where I put my phone, money, headphones ... everything I need at my fingertips. So I take the opportunity of the market to start looking for a new zipper. I have already found the dressmaker, I just have to bring him the necessary. As soon as I arrive, I see a sewing shop. I rush into it and explain what I am looking for to the owner. She grabs my bag with my approval, takes a hammer and bam starts banging on it, twisting it all over the place, puts it on the floor, hits it again, grabs it with her teeth, twisting it. I was dumbfounded. I explain to her that it is broken and that I will simply buy her another one. She stares at me and responds with a smile that she does not just sell zippers but produces them herself. Incredible ! And boom, here we go again, 3 minutes of this treatment and here is my zipper returned to it. I was stunned. To the question "how much I owe you Madam ? ", she answers: "nothing while laughing". Symbolically I gave her 5 qtz, it is the least I can do. I thought it would not last long, maybe a day or two. Well it has been 1 month. Incredible !

Did you know ?

The Guatemalans are really small. They are also ranked 4th in the world for the smallest population with an average of 1.63m for men. I often laughed unfolding my carcass from the seat on buses. True, most of it happens to my chin, I even saw it happening to my chest, I hallucinated. I am only 1.70 m tall. My knees are touching the front (metal) seat in the chickens bus. Knowing that very often bus suspensions are out of order, the slightest hole makes you jump out of your seat and therefore hit the metal in question. AIE Aie Aie ! lol. For the natives, no problema, their knees are separated by a good 10 cms. Obviously, we do not experience the journey the same way.

San Pablo

"Unknown but authentic"

Little unknown village because many will see nothing special. Here, no tourists. Just the simple life of a Guatemalan village. I personnaly advocate authenticity, I want to see. So here I am in the middle of wandering in the middle of the streets where everyone is in a hurry to see this tourist who seems lost. Some houses are so small that they are my size. My head touches the roof; that is crazy ! Mayan women show no knees, shoulders, or cleavage. As in many villages around the lake, there are no laundries or washing machines, so the women wash the clothes by hand.

There is no pharmacy here, no supermarket, no cinema, no bookstore, no formal bus station, no beauty salon. Aside from a few street carts with simple food, San Pablo only has one fried chicken restaurant whose logo amused me a lot.

Jaibalito - Tzununa hike

To do


- House in Jaibalito - "My little paradise" -

Fully equipped house rented for $ 125 per week, direct to owner Carmen, an American-Guatemalan residing in the United States. It comprises on the ground floor open kitchen, living room, dining room, terrace. On the 1st floor, 1 bedroom, bathroom and terrace. Outside, large garden, swimming pool and jacuzzi with a view of the lake. A real little paradise that will keep me for 3 weeks. 

The village is small but is very nice and has everything you need. You do not necessarily have to go to the supermarket in Panajachel, the local tiendas do the trick at very reasonable prices.


IMG_20211126_140050 (FILEminimizer)

When I get off the bus in Chichicastenango, I meet this couple in their thirties Amit and Soumia. He is an Israeli who grew up in the USA and she is a Franco-Algerian who emigrated to New York for 12 years. Both left everything to live the adventure. After a few African countries, they migrated to Central America. Like me, they continue their descent through the various countries on their way. From the 1st minute, the current hangs strong between us. Big discussion around a coffee where we have lots of things to tell each other. We spend the day together, keep in touch to see each other again and again. Soumia has a lot in common with me. I love this girl. He has an Olympian calm. Our friendship is growing rapidly. I love them. It is clear that our roads will often cross. 


During my stay in Quetzaltenango, I received a message from Amagi, met in Sayulita in Mexico. He wishes to hear from me while informing me that he is currently at Lake Atitlan. Amazing ! I am only 2 hours away from him and I plan to arrive on the lake in 2 days. The world is decidedly small. Our reunion takes place happily around a coffee in Panajachel. He tells me to rent a house for several months with his friend Maho in the village of Jaibalito and tells me that the house next door is free. This is how I was wonderfully accommodated during my stay at the lake. Thanks Amagi ! Photo of an evening with Tom and Lauren, English couple on vacation nearby, Mason, Maho and Amagi of course. 

Above, Job Dutch, and Viktor French, we met in San Juan. We spent the day visiting the craftsmen of the village together in the company of a resident of the village. Great time! We are still in touch. 


I needed to settle down, to recharge my batteries. I dreamed of a peaceful, super-comfortable place where I could hike, enjoy nature, the beauty of the lake. The universe has granted my wish. I savored my tranquility, enjoyed the sound of birds in the morning, the serenity of the lake. Surrounded by natives, I felt in another world. I was so well that I stayed for 3 weeks but I did not lose sight of my goal: to reach Colombia at the beginning of April by crossing the various countries on my route. Rejuvenated, I set out to conquer new territories. 

Next destination:  Antigua Guatemala

But I know that I will come back someday 😉

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One Comment

Alter Native
January 6, 2022 2:31 pm

Great content! Keep up the good work!

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