San Marcos Spanish SchoolAn easy guide to make your way to the Doron Yoga & Zen Center (DYZC) and explore around Lake Atitlan. Join us for a yoga teacher training or retreat at Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. A spiritual, cultural experience with lots of opportunity for growth.
Getting Through the Airport
Upon arriving at La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City, continue to immigration control. There is no differentiation in the lines, so feel free to select the shortest. Once through immigration, proceed to your designated baggage carousel to collect your checked bags. Be sure to have your baggage claim tickets and passport readily available as you proceed through customs.
Go through the green lanes if you do not have anything to declare. The red lines are for items to be declared (and potential tax/duty to be paid). After customs, you’ll enter a big hall with a tourist information booth and rental cars. As you exit the building, you’ll see a line of drivers, many with signs if you’ve pre-arranged transportation.
The process is pretty quick and easy. If you need to exchange money, you’ll be able to do so either before or after immigration. It is better to use one of the ATMs before immigration or up in the departures terminal after clearing customs as they give better rates. All signs are clearly marked in both Spanish and English.
Transport to/from the Airport
The DYZC can help arrange transportation from La Aurora International Airport (GUA), which will include a taxi to Panajachel, followed by a lancha (boat) to Tzununa. This costs between $25- 55 USD, shared (depending on the number of persons) and up to $105 for private transportation.
It is possible to also take a shuttle directly to San Pablo, followed by a tuk-tuk to Tzununa. This option, however takes longer, costs much more and the road is much more bumpy and curvy.
Getting to the Doron Yoga & Zen Center
Step off the lancha to the village (pueblo) of Tzununa. You can either walk (~10 min), or take a tuk-tuk all the way to the DYZC. It is 5Q and worth it. You are helping the local community here.
Walking: When getting off the dock, walk up the road and you will see the Centro de Nutricion straight ahead. This is right above the campo de footbal, which is considered the entrance to town.
Pass the Centro de Nutricion and take the first right turn. There is a restaurant and a shop (tienda) at the corner. Go straight, you will cross a bridge over the river, after which you take your first left turn onto a wide dirt road with a big boulder on the left. Go up about 100 meters or so and you will pass a round stone house on the left. When you reach The Seed on the right-hand side, take the tiny path directly across the street that goes down to the left between a chain-link fence and a barbed wire fence. Follow the path around and you will see a caña (cane) gate. That is the DYZC – Come on in! You are welcomed home!
Around Lake Atitlan
With all of the beautiful nature and serenity of the DYZC, you may just want to stay on the grounds enjoying the view of the lake (lago Atitlan), reading a book in a hammock, dipping in the river pools, or book a massage or other treatments at the DYZC. If you feel like venturing out to see more of what is around Lake Atitlan, there are great opportunities to explore. You can take an excursion to neighboring villages/towns, swim, kayak, hike, bird watch, enjoy holistic treatments in San Marcos, and more.
The simplest way to get around Lake Atitlan is via lancha (boat). Tzununa has a dock at which lanchas headed to either Panajachel or San Pedro stop every 20-40 minutes. Tuk-tuks (rickshaws/ small motorized taxis) are easily found and can be hailed anywhere. Guatemalan tuk-tuk drivers are generally very friendly and honest (even if hoping for a bit extra for longer rides from foreigners) and we have never heard of people having real problems. It is also possible to walk to neighboring villages/towns via the dirt roads along the lake. Though incidents are rare it is advised not to walk after dark or with valuables.
All the villages around Lake Atitlan are awesome, but the most known ones for travelers are San Pedro, San Marcos, Panajachel, and now Tzununa is the next up and coming spiritual / permaculture center.
The DYZC is located in Tzununa – the Mayan land of hummingbirds and water. This quiet, serene village is surrounded by hills on Lake Atitlan with great views of the volcanoes on the other side of the lake.
There is lots of yoga around Lake Atitlan, and now Tzununa is becoming the authentic yoga leader of Central America.
About 20 minutes up the hill is the Tzununa waterfall with 500 year old Mayan paintings. There is lots of hiking options around Tzununa with great views. You can swim in the lake, bird watch or just walk around this real authentic village that still has the flavor of the tradition to it.
Local lanchas (boat taxis) stop about every 20 minutes to take you to explore other towns around Lake Atitlan.
San Marcos la Laguna
The town of San Marcos, to the west of Tzununa, can be reached by lancha, tuk-tuk (5 minutes), or by foot (30 minutes) along a dirt road. Known as a spiritual center of Central America, you will find many workshops and classes including kirtan, dance, shamanism, cacao ceremonies, reiki, massage, yoga classes San Marcos, among others.
One of the calm villages around Lake Atitlan, San Marcos offers many cafes and chill out restaurants of various flavors.
There is a natural reserve, which has a fun deck to jump from, straight into the refreshing lake. Kayaks for rent are at the entrance to the reserve.
The town hosts a small health food store and numerous mini markets that carry a variety of health food products, including kombucha, locally sourced honey, various seeds and powders, and more. Additionally, you can learn Spanish at the San Marcos Spanish School (a branch of the San Pedro Spanish School) in beautiful outdoor study cabana.
San Pedro la Laguna
Going around Lake Atitlan to the other side via public boat, San Pedro has more of a vibrant backpacker’s atmosphere and is a little less expensive than San Marcos. It also hosts numerous bars and restaurants for a night out, including the well-known Sublime and the Wild Rover (previously known as the Buddha Bar).
You can quench your thirst and fill up on vitamins and minerals with a delicious fresh juice or smoothie. De’ Juice Girls are located on the main tourist strip along the lakeside (first left after you come up from the dock and down a few shops on the right-hand side). I love them so please send them a hello from Doron!
Angelica in the photo is showing off an experimental raw cacao drink we made.
Further down the street, you’ll find an American-run health food store Salud Para Vida – offering an impressive array of products but at a premium higher than the US retail rates.
To conclude your trip to San Pedro you must stop at the market, preferably on the weekend. It offers produce spices, meat, cheese, clothing, kitchen needs and other surprises. Keep going up the hill from the Pana Dock. It is mostly active every day till 12:30pm.
Santa Cruz la Laguna
Santa Cruz is the small village seat of one of the lake’s municipalities, which also houses numerous expatriates in villages and hotels lining the lake. Hostal La Iguana offers drinks, food and scuba diving.
Retreat Centers such as Villa Sumaya and Isla Verde are part of Santa Cruz.
CECAP, a vocational center for locals, runs a good café and sells some great local food products, including herbal tea and home-made peanut butter.
Considered a gateway to the lake, as this town is easily reached from Guatemala City and Antigua. It is the first town around the lake to get gringos settling in. Already in the 60’s many expats came down here, some choosing this awesome lake instead of the war in Vietnam.
Panajachel has a great market every day, which includes produce, fabrics, cloths and more. It gets even busier Saturdays and Sundays.
Panajachel is also a great place for shopping along Calle Santander. Santander market offers many traditional items, but also many items one may wish for at home, made with traditional fabrics.
Pana is a good place to exchange/withdraw money (BAM, Colua, Banco Industrial). There are a few DHL store locations and a stores that sell international foods. There are phone agencies, lots of food options, and a quick bus ride up to the bigger town and market of Solola. Solola market hosts more of a traditional feel and cheaper prices that some other markets around Lake Atitlan.
This beautiful artisanal town is the home of friendly locals and many co-op/fair trade organizations. The paintings and textiles here are worth the visit. There are also coffee shops that sell home roasted coffee, a chocolate shop and lots of beautiful hand painted murals with local Mayan themes. You will find enough places to eat here and nice strolling around. It is a calm and peaceful village, even if tourism is on the rise here, the charm is still alive.
Santiago de Atitlan
The major town of Santiago is located under Volcan Tuliman and is known as the home of Maximón whom is an idol formed by the fusion of traditional Mayan deities, Catholic saints and conquistador legends. He is believed to answer the more unscrupulous prayers when offered tobacco, alcohol, and money.
Santiago Atitlan is a relative large town with a bigger medical facility and some stalls selling arts and crafts. In general Arts, crafts, and boat building are common trades here.
San Antonio Polopo
This laid back and simple Mayan village is known for its ceramic work. Combine a visit to Santa Catarina to make it a great one day tour. Taking a tour guide for both can help in seeing the little details and getting to the right shops.
San Lucas Tuliman
This village hosts a variety of agriculture initiatives and fair trade coffee farms.
Enjoy your time around Lake Atitlan – it is magical, spiritual and like no other. The Mayan tradition mixed with the Christian influence, and now the yoga and meditation practices merge into an amazing experience.