Atitlan, the Nahuatl word for "Place of Water", is called Choi Lake by thr modern-day Maya-Cackchiquel people, which means "Near the Water". More than 85 thousand years ago, a volcanic eruption wiped all forms of life from Mexico to Costa Rica, leaving a huge crater. As time went by, water levels built up inside the furnace, wich eventually became completely closed due to the flow of lava from the new volcanoes.
According to ancient history, the Tzutuhil people settled on the south border of the lake by the year 1250 AC The ruins of Chuitinamit, the ancient kingdom's capital city, can be seen near Santiago Atitlan. The Quiche and Kackchiquel peoples were allies until 1470, when a bloody war broke between them, and caused the Cackchiquel people become to become allies with the Spaniards in 1523.
The lake is located 144 kilometers (90 miles) from Guatemala City (2 hours and 30 minutes by car), and is today, without a doubt, the most important landmark of the whole department. When the famous novelist Aldous Huxley visited Guatemala, he referred to it as being "the most beautiful in the world".
Three spectacular volcanoes, Toliman, Atitlan, ans San pedro, form the frame of the lake itself, wich is 1562 meters (4265 ft) a.s.l. and is 18 kms. Long by 13 kms. Wide, with dephts of up to 341 meters and an overall area of 130 square kilometers.
Most of these Mayan towns are located around the lake and have names from the Bible, and therefore some people call them the 12 apostles. Among the most visited ones we can mention San Pedro La Laguna , Santiago Atitlan, San Marcos La Laguna , San Lucas Toliman, San Pablo , San Antonio Palopo, and Santa Cruz La Laguna.
The mountains that sorround the lake have become a natural launch pad for those who enjoy air gliding. Another attractive feature of the lake is its wildlife, wich includes specimens of such beauty as the common dunking duck and other migratory duck species. Black Bass is one of the fish species.
Day trip to lake atitlan
Trips to this town are made crossing the lake, an adventure that becomes and unforgettable experience. The views from the lake have no comparison, and are complemented by the colored traditional typical cloths and cultural traditions of each town.
A special phenomenon of the Atitlan Lake is a strong wind known as “Xocomil”, a word that etymolocally comes from the Xocom kaqchile voices that means sins, in other words the wind picks up the sins of the population living around the lake.
That wind occurs at noon time, when the warm winds coming from the south encounters the cold winds coming from the highlands. When they mix they result in a water movement which generates strong waves.
Visitors will enjoy the quietness, peace, ecology and diversity of the many places to overnight and the beautifulness of the lake we offer you a diverse set of tours and private transfers.
Also, there are many places to eat, where the visitors can find international and local food. There are also a large amount of cooperatives around the lake that offer different products and handicrafts. Museums are also available where visitors can see Mayan ceramic and remembrances.
Places to visit:
Its whole name is really San Francisco . Panajachel. It is a pre-Columbine small town of Cackchiquel origin, settled next to the river of the same name and on the lakeside of Lake Atitlan. It witnessed the final battle between Spaniards and theri Cackchiquel allies and the Tzutuhil people. It also was the settlement point for many Franciscan missionaries who founded a convent. Currently, this town is located between large coffee plantations, gardens and vegetable orchards. It is the most important center of the area, for which it concentrates most of the hotels, restaurants, disco clubs, recreational areas and commercial stores. It is great for doing some handicraft shopping.
Several boats depart from the docks of Panajachel bound for Santiago Atitlan, San Pedro La Laguna, and San Lucas Toliman. Its local fair is celebrated from October 1rst to the 7th honoring its patron, San Francis of Assisi. There is an information and tourist assistance office in Panajachel, part of INGUAT. Those who enjoy long strolls will find ample roads and streets to do so, as well as taking a horseback ride or bicycle ride. A local guide can be hired to climb the San Pedro volcano.
West of Panajachel, at the San Buenaventura valley- historical site at the lake basin-is a local natural wildlife reserve of 300 acres (120 hectares) and one butterfly reserve. The forest has many traits and an organic coffee plantation.
Map of Atitlan Lake
View Lake Atitlan in a larger map