Lake Atitlan… "Atitlan" in Mayan means a world of beauty and grandeur. It actually means "where the rainbow gets its colors". This magical place has inspired writer and philosopher Aldous Huxley to say "…Atitlan is Como with additional embellishments of several immense volcanoes. It really is too much of a good thing."
This jewel is undoubtedly one of the most gorgeous lakes in the world. It brings with it a certain grandeur that can only be achieved with a volcanic setting and with sheer size. Lake Atitlan boasts of three majestic volcanoes gracing its southern shore. These volcanoes (namely San Pedro Volcano, Atitlan Volcano and Toliman Volcano) are known for their beauty and perfect cones. Multiply that by two, as this picturesque sight is mirrored in the clear and calm waters of the lake.
This lake also has the distinction of being the deepest lake in Central America, with an estimated depth of around 340 meters. The lake is a result of a volcanic eruption over 80,000 years ago.
Lake Atitlan is blessed with the perfect climate – not too hot and not too cold. It feels just right -this is because it lies 1,560 meters above sea level and around 15 degrees above the equator. Here, the sun shines virtually every day, although you should expect some rain from May to October.
The lake is teeming with black bass so it makes for great fishing. You can also rent a motorcycle or a bike so that you can explore the lakeside. Another option is for you to go horseback riding. What's more, if you are in for a cool dip in the lake, there are dive shops that rent out equipment. You can also take a tour of the Lake by boat. There are several tour companies that provide boat trips to the different lake towns.
Lake Atitlan is home to the Cakchiquel and Maya-Tzutujil women, who are famous for their exquisite traditional clothing that is completely hand-woven and features intricate embroidery. You can even see some of the residents wearing these brightly colored fabrics, which are also available for sale. Around Lake Atitlan, you will get a fascinating glimpse of Mayan culture. Getting to know the Mayan people living in the villages surrounding the lake is also an experience in itself.
The Maya towns surrounding Lake Atitlan comprise of Panajachel, Solola, San Antonio, Santa Catarina Palopo and other smaller towns. This makes the lake a great opportunity for you to explore the rich cultural heritage of these lakeside communities. Panajachel is the largest and is your ideal tourist town – the streets are lined with shops, cafes, artisan markets and tour companies. There are also bars where you can relax and drink the night away. The other towns, such as Santiago Atitlan and San Pedro, offer the visitor a fascinating mixture of native traditions and Catholic beliefs. The towns also boast of a number of churches, some of which are well worth the visit. Some are churches dedicated to the god Maximon, which pre-dates the entry of Catholicism.