After staying in a hostel in Antigua for several days we decided to splurge on a nice hotel in Santiago, a small island near Panajachel. While walking down the street in Antigua you stumble upon countless small travel agencies. My friend and I picked a random one that had cheap prices listed outside their door and arranged for a van to pick us up at our hostel the next morning. The somewhat rickety van picked us up first thing in the morning and took us on a 3 hour ride to Panajachel. We felt safe enough, although be warned that the drivers generally take the curves of the road at alarmingly fast speeds. I think it’s a blast!
The most beautiful thing about Panajachel and its surrounding towns is Lake Atitlan.
I have been there before and I wanted to show my friend how gorgeous it is. The lake is surrounded by volcanoes and it’s absolutely breathtaking.
We took a local taxi boat tiny boat across the lake from Panahachel to Santiago, We found that the best way to catch a ride to the other side of the lake is to simply walk up to a dock where you see a bunch of people gathered, give the driver a number you think is fair and see if he agrees to it (we paid Q20, which is around 3 dollars.) Then you just jump on! I have to admit I was nervous about the boat ride. Last year at this time I had just eaten a traditional Guatemalan breakfast before I hopped on a similar boat. The end result was not pretty. This year, however, my stomach was empty, the ride was smooth, and the views were outstanding. The greatest thing about these taxi boats is that they are low to the water so you can feel the water spray you from time to time.
It is truly a wonderful experience. When we got off in Santiago there were approximately 30 tuk tuk drivers waiting to see who would like a ride to the surrounding hotels. There weren’t many of us getting off the boat so they all had to compete for the limited business. We decided to choose the gentleman who held out his hand to help us off the boat. He gave us a fair deal and took us all the way to our hotel, which was a few miles away. From bus, to boat, to tuk tuk, with plenty of walking in between… getting there was half the fun!