Guatemala · 6 Days · 17 Moments · January 2013

Lago Atitlán - Experience real Guatemala

5 February 2013

Indulge in some wholeweat crèpes or vegan cakes Shambhala Café is situated along the main road going up from the pier where all the lanchas (taxi boats) arrive. It serves healthy food options, mostly vegetarian and some vegan choices. The wholewheat crèpes were amazing and so were all the different raw vegan cakes I tried. The brownies were to yummy, too. Very relaxing in the little garden area but mostly busy.
Wake yourself with 9 am Yoga at La Paz in San Marcos Every morning at 9 am, Café La Paz in San Marcos La Laguna offers drop-in Yoga classes with different teachers and thus different styles of Yoga. 1 1/2 hours cost Q40. Yoga is practiced outside in a garden area underneath a roof. Only bamboo mats are provided and no yoga mats - since it's a stone floor, it can be quite uncomfortable during some exercises. So bring your own mat if you can or at least a big scarf or towel.

4 February 2013

Weave your own scarf - the traditional way Take some weaving classes with Asociación Lema' in San Juan La Laguna. The price is $10 and classes run for about 3 hours including an explanation of how the association works and a demonstration by the women on how to weave a scarf. In the end, you'll also get to take the scarf you were weaving during the class. Such a nice souvenir!
Tortilla Making Classes You can learn how to make tortillas by taking classes with one of the women of San Juan for example. Tortillas are a staple of the Guatemalan diet and I fell in love with them too. It looks easier than it actually is to make them yourself. But it's fun and the best part is that you actually get to eat them...
Live with a Guatemalan family Why not skip a hotel for a few nights and instead live with a family in one of the villages? This way you'll experience the Guatemalan culture and traditions firsthand and learn so much about the people's lives. I stayed with a family in San Juan La Laguna for Q500 per week including 3 meals per day 7 days a week. It's easy to book those homestays through Spanish schools but you can ask in travel agencies as well. Don't expect a lot of comfort - generally your room will be the same as in a low-budget hostel. Here is a sample offer:

3 February 2013

Half-day trip to Chichicastenango Chichicastenango is about two hours by shuttle from San Pedro La Laguna. It's a big market with a bigger selection than that in Santiago Atitlán. It's a famous artisan market, with a section for the locals and one that sells mostly touristy stuff. The food area is huge and the meals are delicious and so cheap. Shuttles depart Thursdays and Sundays around 8 am and return the same day around 2 pm. They cost about Q60-80 depending on with which travel agency you book.
Eat at Bar Sublime before the party starts Bar Sublime has really delicious food options - can't understand why it didn't make Lonely Planet's 'Central America on a Shoestring' guide! Burgers (apparently) are great (haven't tried) and I love the curry and the veggie salad. On Saturday there was a huge party and they often have live acts on other nights too, e.g. break dancers, music bands, DJs,... Photos have been taken from their Facebook page.
Shop beautiful hand-made products in San Juan La Laguna and Santiago Atitlán San Juan La Laguna has many women's weaving cooperatives which work with natural dyes. Lema' has been the first of those associations in San Juan and its women produce high quality products such as scarfs, bags and table runners. They are open from 8am to 5pm daily. Santiago's market is renowned throughout the area but doesn't work so much with natural dyes (I haven't seen any products of that kind). Their products are beautifully handcrafted nonetheless. San Juan can be reached from San Pedro and San Marcos by tuctuc (Q5-10 and Q30 respectively). To Santiago, you need to take a lancha (boat) from San Pedro (probably also possible from San Marcos), it costs around Q20.

2 February 2013

Explore Lago Atitlán on horseback with Pedro Most tourist offices offer horseback riding tours around Lago Atitlán but I'd always go again with Pedro (he's the one that has the juice bar). He's very competent and knows a lot about the region. His horses are in excellent condition and very easy-going and nice - so even you're a beginner, you'll be fine, no worries! I went on a 4-hour tour and we first went through coffee plantations and then to the foot of Volcán San Pedro. It's quite adventurous as you'll ride up steep hills, stairs, and through narrow paths in the forest. It was nice hearing Pedro's stories, he is 'muy amable y gracioso'. Just book at the juice bar or call him (+502 4621 1957).
Start off your day with a delicious juice and granola-oreo-fruit salad with yogurt The 'Juice Girls' are so well-known - just ask around and you'll be directed to their little shack. They serve some delicious juice and smoothies and their fruit salad with granola, oreos and yogurt is just to die for. This is definitely a spot in San Pedro you can't miss out on!

1 February 2013

Head to Pedro's Juice Bar for some healthy afternoon juice I'm just calling this 'Pedro's Juice Bar' as it is run by Pedro's son-in-law and I'm not sure if it even has a proper name. BUT: The juice is delicious and cheap! You can make your own juice from whatever veggies and fruits you want and it will cost you around Q12 for the big version. My favorite is Beetroot, Lime, Papaya, Carrot and Ginger - yummy! The place is right after the corner when walking from The Clover towards Zoola - opposite a Spanish school.
Vegetarian Café 'Home' in San Pedro After your yoga session, detox with some freshly brewed Ginger Lemongrass Tea and some hearty porridge or home-baked whole-wheat bread and hummus or avocado. Their strawberry pie and brownie is delicious, too. They also feature one page of 'tummy-friendly food' if you're having any issues in that matter. Wifi is available and it's a lovely place to chill with hammocks and chairs in their garden. It's right in between The Clover and Buddha Bar. Open until 4.30pm only.
Yoga to the sound of birds and waves - right by the lake Start off your day with early morning (9am) Yoga at Pedro's Yoga, next to Buddha Bar. An hour of Yoga costs Q40. The location is amazing - it's right by the lake with lots of trees growing around it. You'll hear the sound of waves and birds are singing. The type of Yoga is usually Hatha Flow but depends on the teacher. It's every day of the week (maybe not Sundays).

31 January 2013

Party & Relax at Zoola Zoola is THE place for young backpackers looking for crazy parties any day of the week - drinks are cheap (free shots with every drink during 'Guatemala's most dangerous Happy Hour'), the crowd is fun and the hangovers can be cured in their beautiful backyard right by the water. They also have a pool and host a pool party every Saturday afternoon. The place is colorful, rooms are clean, and the staff is friendly. It's owned by an Israeli and the hostel is packed with Israelis. Their restaurant features international dishes next to Israeli and Guatemalan and the food tastes delicious - go for some hummus with pita and 'Hello to the Queen' or apple pie for dessert! Zoola has also just opened a branch in Antigua - looks similar, same standards of cleanliness and friendliness.
All You Can Eat Bacon Breakfast - you deserve it After your hike up the Indian Nose, you deserve some delicious breakfast. Check out El Barrio for their famous Saturday 'All You Can Eat Bacon Breakfast' for Q40. It is very close to Buddha Bar. They serve eggs, bacon, toast, jam, potatoes, fresh-cut fruits, granola, yogurt and waffles. Everything is refilled regularly, so you won't miss out on anything. It's a busy place on Saturdays but usually there's a free table in their garden.
Breakfast at Café La Puerta for the more health-conscious Café La Puerta is next to San Pedro Spanish School and has some delicious breakfast and lunch options. You can chill on their rooftop terrace with views of Volcán San Pedro or in their lush backyard. The Avocado Milkshake is a must-try! Wifi available
Hike up the Indian Nose for amazing sunrise views Wake up at 4 a.m. to hike up the Indian Nose above San Juan La Laguna and see the sun rise over Lago Atitlán. Various hikes are available with varying durations. Our hike lasted around 30 minutes but we were climbing up so fast, I could hardly breathe. So many steps - the last 5 minutes up felt like eternity! But then we were rewarded with some amazing views over Lake Atitlán and all the villages around the lake. It's amazing how the scenery changes almost every minute and you keep thinking 'Wow! This is an amazing shot'. Ten minutes later you're thinking 'Wow! This is even more stunning...'. We even saw Volcano Fuego spy up some black fume. It's really cold up there, so pack a warm jacket. Some sandwich or cake is also nice to snack on. Don't forget your water either, you'll need it after this hike. Book your trip through Travel Agency Big-Foot in San Pedro La Laguna - they usually have the best deals. We paid Q100.