Lake Atitlan is one of the most popular destinations in Guatemala and few travelers leave the country without paying it a visit. Surrounded by mountains and three volcanoes, it is often called the most beautiful lake in the world.
Lake Atitlan is of volcanic origin and fills a caldera that was formed in an enormous eruption 84,000 years ago. Ashes from this eruption have been detected as far away as Florida and Ecuador.
Since then three new volcanoes have formed on the southern edge of the lake: the San Pedro volcano, which went extinct 40,000 years ago; Toliman, which is probably still active but has not erupted in historic times; and the Atitlan volcano, which last erupted in 1853.
The land around Lake Atitlan is very fertile and a variety of crops are grown here, most notably coffee, corn and beans.
Many towns and villages are located around the lake. Their inhabitants are mostly indigenous and still preserve the Mayan culture and traditions, particularly the colorful traditional dress.
Panajachel on the north shore is the largest town on the lake and one of the top tourist destinations in Guatemala.
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Lake Atitlan, located in the Central Highlands of Guatemala and surrounded by mountains and three volcanoes, is often called the most beautiful lake in the world. It is easy to reach by shuttle bus from Antigua Guatemala, which makes it a great destination for a weekend tour while you study Spanish in Antigua.
View more photos of Lake Atitlan
Weekend tours to Lake Atitlan are available every weekend, year round.
|Tour with transportation by shuttle bus||US$130.00 per person|
|Tour with private transportation and guide||US$270.00 per person|
Included: Round-trip transportation, 1 night hotel, boat tour of Lake Atitlan with a bilingual guide
Not included: Meals, drinks, tips
Payment: Payment in full must be received at least 7 days before the tour begins; or at the time of booking if less than 7 days before the tour.
Cancellation policy: Full refund minus a US$30.00 cancellation fee if you cancel more than 7 days before the tour begins. No refund or credit for later cancellations or no-shows.
Lake Atitlan is one of Guatemala's top tourism hot spots. The local infrastructure is well developed and cell phone coverage is generally very good. Internet access is available in most of the towns.
There is no road going all around the lake and the towns and villages on its shore are best reached by boat (locally called "lancha"). The boats are fairly small, from just a handful of passengers to a few dozen at most.
The population around Lake Atitlan is for the most part indigenous. While Panajachel has become quite "touristy," people in other towns and villages around the lake uphold their traditions and many still wear the colorful traditional Mayan attire.
Panajachel is only a good hour by shuttle bus from Chichicastenango. If you don't want to spend two days at Lake Atitlan, you can also catch a shuttle bus to Chichicastenango on Sunday morning and visit the market.