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  #1  
Old 16 Jan 2013
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Guatemala- Lake Atitlan

Anyone spent any time around Lago Atitlan southeast of Antigua/Guatemala city? I am heading there in Feb. Will be coming from Tikal.
Looking for a hotel, which side of lake is best. Any info on the area to see.
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  #2  
Old 16 Jan 2013
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Do you mean Lake Amatitlan? This is the one SE of Guate. Lake Atitlan is basically west of Guatemala City. I spent most of October and November in the Lake Atitlan area, and can tell you what I know.
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  #3  
Old 17 Jan 2013
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Sorry yes meant South west or west of Guatemala City. Sorry.
For sure tell me what you know of the area. Places to stay etc. Looks like a gorgeous lake.
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  #4  
Old 17 Jan 2013
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I cannot give recent info, but the lake and landscape may not have changed much: it's a superb place, really wonderful, so I strongly recommend you to go.

Not a bike (and 9 years ago), I stayed on the other side, in San Pedro and other small villages which I liked much more than Panajachel. If you feel like, climb up the volcano (at the time, with a guide, there were guys "asking" for your camera and wallet, I was told by other travellers), the views are just amazing.

The road out of San Pedro (I got really pissed with the boat ripping you off on the way back so took the bus) was very steep with lots of horseshoes (right?). We had a puncture on one turn and I still thank my guard angel that we did not fall the cliff. But the whole lake is just unbeliveable.
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  #5  
Old 17 Jan 2013
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Thanks etebangc.
What did you like about SAn Pedro and that side more than the Panajachel side? Was more places to stay and do things or was it cleaner and better people?

I take it you meant the road was full of pot holes?? or topes.. the speed bumps?
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  #6  
Old 17 Jan 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gstreff View Post
Thanks etebangc.
What did you like about SAn Pedro and that side more than the Panajachel side? Was more places to stay and do things or was it cleaner and better people?

I take it you meant the road was full of pot holes?? or topes.. the speed bumps?
Remember it was 9 years ago, all may have changed a lot.

Ok, my 1st impression in Pana was "this is too gringo for me" ;-) (joking). I felt it a bit like the surroundings of a harbour were cruiships stop. The market stalls were artificial, sort of. Some would say "touristy", but I was a tourist, traveller, not a explorer, but coming from all southern countries in CA, I didn't feel like staying there. San Pedro was smaller, was good to climb the volcano, had a nice hostel with friendly people.

I meant "hairpin bend"

Last edited by estebangc; 17 Jan 2013 at 21:39.
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  #7  
Old 17 Jan 2013
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The clif notes on the towns around the lake:

Panajachel - Most touristy town on the lake. Easiest to access by road, good paved road there from the Interamericana. Not all foreign tourists, popular with Guatemalans looking for some fun, too. Plenty of hotels/hostels in all price ranges. Good night life, discos and live bands.

San Pedro - Smaller and more remote than Pana. By road, it is a great motorcycle ride, or a scary bus ride, as noted previously. There is a tourist strip along the lake, but if you go 200 meters away from the lake, you are in a Guatemalan town again. Plenty of hotels/hostels, good restaurants, at cheap, even by Guatemalan standards, prices. There are several good hikes from here, along with kayaking and horseback riding. Lots of spanish schools there. I stayed there for 4 weeks in October-November 2012. Rasta wannabe Euro backpackers will try to sell you ganja, but not a big problem.

Santiago - Much smaller tourist presence, but still a good sized town. Plenty of hotels, more oriented towards the local trade. Probably the best place on the lake to buy locally made products, clothing and whatnot. Not the place if you want to party.

San Marcos - Across a small bay from San Pedro. Has a reputation as a new age mystic hangout. Smallest town on the lake with decent tourist infrastructure. There is a kick ass jumping platform over the lake at a little nature park.

There are some smaller towns on the north side of the lake, but I don't know enough to comment on them. There are water taxi's between all these towns, and riding around the lake is pretty, too. Be aware that there have been robberies for years on the road between San Pedro and Santiago. The tourist police will escort you through the problem area if you ask.
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  #8  
Old 17 Jan 2013
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Alright then.... great info Andy. Just what I was looking for.
Question though.... did you by any chance get there from the north up toward Tikal or coming from or going to Belize. I am trying to pick through the roads from say Belmopon Belize down to Antigua... can't figure out what is the sensible route. The road down to Lake and then west toward Guatemala City seems like the largest roads where the ones to the west look to be a spider web of twisties and various paved and unpaved with questionable river crossings. Any info on that piece of Guatemala? I am riding an 800GS, twisties and back roads are fun, but some those routes look like they will be over the top with days of twisties.
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Old 17 Jan 2013
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Sorry... above meant to say the road from Belmopon down to Lake Izabal in Guatemala and then west toward Guatemala City/Antigua
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  #10  
Old 18 Jan 2013
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Peten to Pana, and then you choose what to do...

Here is a map of a road that I have traveled on a 1983 GS650 Suzuki, so I know you can do it on your fancy shmancy 800GS...

There is 95% tarmac, and nice towns to go through. I recommend to everyone to avoid the CA-9 as the traffic consist mainly of semitrucks traveling at 120-140 kms/h. There are several other options of roads less traveled in Between San Cristobal Verapaz and Chichi, but I don't know your taste in roads, nor do I know your interest. The portion from Cubulco to San Andres Sajcabaj√° is a wide dirt road with mountain climbs, but the views are so good, I did not mind it, no river crossing on this one, and my wife did it on a Yamaha Fazer 250, so again I know your set up can handle it. This is a not so common road and very few local biker even know it...

Let me know if you want more suggestions about the area and how long you are planning on staying in Guatemala, I can help. I am a local rider that stays of the beaten path. If you want more dirt, more landscape, more river crossings, cold, hot....just ask I can point you in the right direction.

Isla de Flores to Panajachel, Guatemala - Google Maps
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  #11  
Old 18 Jan 2013
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On the hotel question

What is your goal/plan? time to spend around the lake. Many rtw's that plan extended stays, say 1 to 4 weeks usualy stay in San Pedro. You can take Spanish lessons less for a lot less than in Antigua, Xela or Flores, from what I hear. $135 a week? and there are plenty of homes that take travelers. I like San Marcos la Laguna on the north side, but for weekend stays. Pana is too touristy, but is one of the THREE major destinations in Guatemala for those doing the quick" been there done that" "off the bucket list sort of thing". Also if you take the route I sent you, Two must see destinations are Laguna Lachu√°, about 75 kms from Chisec and Semuc Champey, just east of Coban. A new place recomended to me buy a traveling couple in Semuc is Utopia, https://www.google.com.gt/url?sa=t&r...41248874,d.dmQ

Check it out.
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  #12  
Old 18 Jan 2013
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richsuz
Perfect.... exactly what I was looking for. Great info. Funny you have mapped out exactly the track I was first looking for but was getting some doubts and questions as I was closely looking at the track on Google Earth and my topo maps. Great to talk with someone that has been in and on the roads.
Where are you located?? Up for a visit while I am there?
The Eco hotel in Semuc looks great. Think I will make an effort to ge there.
My time frame only allows for a day or two at each place. Looks like I will probably be making another trip into the area at another time to see it more in depth
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  #13  
Old 19 Jan 2013
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Hey GsTreff,
I live in Guatemala City. What is your timeline looking like? To see where we could meet. I am planning on going to El Salvador next week for an overnight trip so knowing where you'll be and plans after the lake would be helpful.
In Antigua, I have a friend or two , that would ride with you in case I am not available.
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  #14  
Old 19 Jan 2013
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richsuz
I don't have a set timetable for the trip but am expecting to be in your area around February 17-23 give or take. Would great to have some contacts around there.
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  #15  
Old 19 Jan 2013
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GStreff,
Sent you a PM.

Also, there are a couple of riders (trying to get through La Ventosa on their way to Chiapas at the moment, but 100 MPH winds are making it impossible as of today). Planing on exploring Maya sites in Chiapas and Yucatan, coming via Belize around the same time you are planing on being here. And there is another couple currently in Cancun, if you are interested in meeting riders up there.
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