Antigua & Lago de Atitlan

Antigua

23rd – 26th of November 2013

Although I have seen my fair share of colonial towns on this trip already, Antigua is definitely one of the prettier ones. But not only is it reasonably small and has managed to keep its charm despite the hordes of tourists which come here, it also has a cool climate since it is located in the highlands of Guatemala. For a change it was quite nice to not feel like you’re melting all the time. 🙂 The surrounding volcanoes (including active volcano El Fuego which occasionally puffs out a cloud of ash and sometimes even a bit of lava) create a very special setting. Although it is beyond me why anyone would build a town right next to a bunch of (active) volcanoes – seems like some people just like to live dangerously.

Apart from that it pretty much offers all the things you would expect from a colonial town – beautiful churches, colorful houses, cobblestone streets and nice little parks. So in order to not sound like a broken record I won’t repeat all the things you can see in detail. Best you just enjoy the pictures and decide for yourself if you like it or not.

Lago de Atitlan

26th – 29th of December 2013

Also located in the highlands of Guatemala is the Lago de Atitlan, a beautiful lake surrounded by – once again – volcanoes. I decided to stay in the town of San Pedro La Laguna since I was told that it wasn’t as played out as Panajachel and not as “hippie” as San Marcos La Laguna. After some friends and I had visited the other two towns briefly we knew that we had made the right call. The place we stayed at in San Pedro La Laguna was called Hostel Fe. Usually I don’t write about the hostels I stay at because a lot can change in a short amount of time but this place had the best food of any of the hostels I had stayed at on this trip so far. Especially the creamy mushroom stake medium-rare was to die for and way better than any of the steaks I had had in Argentina, no kidding!

Apart from that there is a large variety of activities to choose from while in the area. The first day a couple of friends and I rented kayaks (GTQ 10 / 0,95 € per hour and person). There are several houses along the shore line which are partially or completely submerged in water since the water level of the lake continues to rise due to the fact that there is no overflow. Again, it seems like Guatemalans just don’t care if their houses flood or burn to the ground. 🙂 Kayaking through a partially flooded house (with the light still working!) is definitely an activity you don’t get to do every day. It was rather odd and even a little bit spooky at times but fun.

The next day we chose to climb Indian Nose for the sunrise. The mountain gets its name from the distinguished shape of the profile of an Indians face with the highest point being the nose. Until this day the mountain is being used by descendants of the Mayas for rituals.

The tour started at four in the morning and cost GTQ 150 / 14,29 € pp. After a 40 minute taxi ride we started our 1,5 hour ascend to the top of the mountain which we reached just as the sky was starting to light up. The sunrise was simply amazing as it gradually lit up the volcanoes (we were even able to spot El Fuego which we had already seen from Antigua) as well as the lake. Even the fact that I had already seen quite a few sunrises on this trip didn’t make it any less beautiful. Definitely worth the money and the discomfort of getting up at three in the morning. 🙂

If you have the chance to visit the Lago de Atitlan, make sure you pack some warm cloth, it does get quite cold in the evenings.

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