To/From and Around Lake Atitlan

An 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 group or personal retreat at Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. A spiritual, cultural experience with lots of opportunity for growth.

Mayan Woman in a field Lake Atitlan

 

Getting to the Doron Yoga & Zen Center

Located just below Mexico, Guatemala is a short journey from the US. From the La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City, a shuttle ride brings you to the heart of Lake Atitlan’s Mayan community and astounding beauty. Feel the breeze in your hair and the water around you as you take a short boat ride to the village (pueblo) of Tzununa.  Local tuk-tuk drivers greet you with a friendly “Taxi?” and bring you right to our entrance.

Keep it simple. Let us help you keep every step of your in-country Guatemala experience relaxing for you, so you can enjoy the fresh air, the sound of the river running through our property, and the beauty of nature and local culture all around you. Once you book, we’ll send you details about the logistics.

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). 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, and Panajachel. Tzununa is the next up-and-coming spiritual / permaculture center.

Tzununa

 

 

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 are 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.

Tree pose in front of Lake Atitlan

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).

San Pedro Park and Iglecia Catolica

The Juice Girls _ angelica with chocolate smoothieYou 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.

More on the food side, carnivores and vegetarians alike can mindfully enjoy Smokin Joe’s BBQ, offering flexitarians the occasional mouth-watering steak and a bountiful salad bar!

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 Santiago Dock. It is mostly active every day till 12:30pm.

Santa Cruz la Laguna

Traditional and Modern woman -ladies - out of their window in 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.

Panajachel

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.

Shopping on Calle Santander in Panajachel

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 couriers, such as DHL, and 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.  With a more traditional feel, Solola market also has cheaper prices than some other markets around Lake Atitlan.

San Juan

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, chocolate shops, 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.

San Juan Mayan Art

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

Santiago Atitlan Mural Painting of the volcanoes

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.