As part of the UA in Guatemala program, we take a variety of excursions around the country, and this week brought one of the most anticipated moments of the trip: a visit to Lake Atitlán. Surrounded by volcanoes and colorful Mayan villages reachable by boat, Lake Atitlán is often ranked amongst the most beautiful lakes in the world, not only for the surrounding scenery but for its cultural significance.
We departed Antigua in the morning on a two hour van ride to Panajachel, the main base for many who visit the lake. After dropping our luggage off at our hotel, we split into two motor boats, or lanchas, and set off on an exhilarating thirty minute ride to the colorful village of San Juan La Laguna where we visited a Mayan weaving cooperative and medicinal plant garden. The visit to the weaving cooperative proved to be a favorite moment of the entire trip for many; hearing the details of the intricate process of weaving and how essential it is to keeping the Mayan culture alive was a truly impactful experience.
After a choppy but fun boat ride back to Panajachel, we took time to get settled in at the hotel and then enjoyed some free time walking around the artisan markets of Panajachel while the sun set across the lake. We finished up the night with a beautiful dinner at a nearby restaurant but it started raining so hard that the power kept cutting in and out!
The next morning, a group of five of us took a short tuk-tuk ride to a nearby Nature Reserve where we braved the walk across a few wooden suspension bridges to get down to the lake and then up to great views of a towering waterfall. After encountering a very curious group of around 30 coatis (a racoon-type animal) that got a little too comfortable with us, we set off back to the hotel to meet up with our group and then made the drive back to Antigua. Our time at Lake Atitlán, while short, was packed with adventure and definitely made for a highlight of the trip!