San Pedro La Laguna on the shores of Guatemala’s Lake Atitlan is home to a unique mixture of Spanish students and traditional Tz’utujil Maya, helping it to stand out on the backpacker trail.
Most visitors spend a few weeks in this lakeside town to attend one of its many Spanish schools, however for me, it was just the perfect place to unwind. The lake basin itself, formed by a massive volcanic eruption over 80,000 years ago, was once described as the most beautiful in the world. Add to this the myriad ‘small’ volcanoes that now flank its shores and you have a very special place.
My favourite time of day in San Pedro was early morning, when I would watch women washing clothes on the rocks while men readied small fishing canoes. Travelling around the lake on small water taxis was an experience in itself and also meant that I could pop over to the town of San Marcos for my morning coffee. The view back across the lake from el Cerro Tzankujil in San Marcos was spectacular, despite the clouds that often clung to its namesake volcano.
Next time I visit I’ll choose the less direct route – the mountain road to the town isn’t for the faint hearted and there have been serious accidents in recent years. Although I spent three days relaxing, there are countless activities on the lake including kayaking, diving, hiking and visiting local communities. Speaking Spanish gets you far in this town and most tuk-tuk drivers will even give you a discounted price for their own tours.