Estamos en Panajachel

Panajachel is the main town – albeit a small one – on the shores of Lake Atitlán, and the place we decided to stay to explore all the small places around the lake.
Despite the fact that Panajachel is one of the ‘must-see’ destinations on the infamous Guatemalan gringo trail, Pana (as those in the know – or those that are too lazy to use the full name – like to call it!?!) was actually incredibly tranquilo… especially by the water’s edge. We were surprised when we first arrived as we sat snacking looking at the water (we needed to muster up the energy for the hike to our hostel which was on the furthest possible side of town!) that no one approached us trying to sell anything, or offer us a room, and once they realised we weren’t going anywhere the calls for boats to other villages across the lake stopped too… the only thing disrupting the silence was a local school kid, who – with father in tow carrying a video camera! – was trying to find gringos to interview for a school project! PB happily obliged and the kid left happy!
Lake Atitlán from our nice tranquilo spot by the water’s edge…

Our hostel on the edge of town in a residential neighbourhood turned out to be a tad bizarre… don’t get me wrong it was nice enough and served a mean breakfast – although we only had it once as it wasn’t included in the price and was actually too big! Yes, there is such a thing as a breakfast that is too big for PB and CC to handle! Well, maybe not – as we did eat it all – we just didn’t feel so great afterwards!!!

The thing that got me, was the fact that the hostel marketed itself as having a kitchen for guests to use… and while it had a kitchen… it wasn’t the other backpackers you had to negotiate with to get a spot, but rather the hostel owners who lived on site! And, when finally the kitchen emptied out and you could use it – with padlocks firmly on every cupboard door, yes even plates and cutlery were behind those doors – it just wasn’t that user friendly!!!

One awesome bonus of our hostel was however the distance from town! Without this there is absolutely no way we would have ever discovered the best lunch spot in town (well on the edge of town very close to nowhere!). The best lunch spot served the most amazing tacos and gringas in existence in Panajachel I am sure!

Our hostel is the one with the red sign!
PB with the monster ‘chapín’ hostel breakfast! Tasty, BUT only really suitable for those with a monster appetite!!!! Not big you’re thinking as you look at the picture? But the basket next to PB is laden with tortillas… and he’s already eaten a bowl of oats!!!
It’s a long walk from town to our hostel, but the views on the way are pretty nice!
Delicious tacos!
And amazing gringas!

Time spent in Pana is really about being by Lake Atitlán, and flitting around/across the lake from village to village by boat. We took a few boats on the lake so we could spend time in other villages on the lake shores, but also spent a reasonable amount of time just hanging in Pana.

To be honest though there wasn’t a whole heap of stuff to do in Panajachel – you could either hang out on the main tourist drag (calle Santander) and buy tourist tat, chill by the water eating ice cream (obviously you don’t have to eat ice cream if you sit by the water, but I’d recommend it), or head to the ‘centre’ where the market and church are (where you might see someone who is a)not a tourist or b) doesn’t work in the tourist industry!)

We checked out the centre of town – it didn’t feel over touristy – with normal people going about their everyday lives. The church was pretty cool too.

One of the main streets in Panajachel.
Heading home!
The church.

However, we spent most of our time by the water – it was nice just to sit and look out to towards the waters edge, the volcanoes that surrounded the lake were stunning and almost captivating! The view was in fact pretty beautiful – even when the weather was not! And each spot along the water offered a slightly different angle!

Lake Atitlán – obviously not a picture of the lake itself but a nice street art piece depicting the lake 🙂
On the road leading to the water the view is pretty awesome long before you arrive at the water!
A nice view of Lake Atitlán.
PB by the water’s edge.
On a grey day in Pana the lake still looks good 🙂
The shore of the lake reveals its layers.


A slightly different angle of the lake from one of the wharfs.
And when you finally get a sunny day, Lake Atitlán looks stunning!

Panajachel was quite a colourful town – with locals strolling around wearing traditional dress, and beautifully painted colourful street art on many walls. There were also heaps of colourful tuk tuks weaving around the place which looked pretty cool 🙂

Locals on the streets of Panajachel.
Carrying a heavy load.
PB finds an ‘I heart Pana’ mural!
Colourful murals abound in Panajachel.
Another stunning mural.
And another!
One of the preferred methods of transport in Panajachel, where nothing is too far apart!

After three enjoyable nights of hanging in Lake Atitlán, it was time to retrace our steps and return to Antigua on the 11am chicken bus! We would spend just one night in Antigua before a mammoth journey to Flores…

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