A Wander Through Trails of Atitlán

This post is suuuuper late, but I need to write about it because it was one of the most fun days I had while at Lago Atitlán. I had been doing some research about things to do on the lake, and I stumbled across a mention of trails that ran between the villages of Lago Atitlán. Apparently the trails ran through the cliffs and had some great views, and the trails between Tzununá, Jaibalito, and Santa Cruz ended up at some pretty cool spots. It was an adventure I needed to undertake. (Yes, needed. My favorite thing ever in the world of exploring is finding new trails and following them until they take me to some unknown super sweet place. I grew up in the woods, and I frequently went on little explorer excursions into the woods with my brother, my dad, or my friends. I suppose the habit never wore off.) 

But first I needed a buddy. Apparently in Guatemala it’s sort of sometimes common to get mugged while hiking. So I’ve heard. Most locals stress hiring a guide or going with a group of people if going on a trail through the woods. I am generally not one to take heed to such warnings as, being so intensely and fiercely independent, I think I can undertake anything alone. If there is no one to accompany me, no worries. I will do it by myself. BUT. I was not willing to take the risk this time, in a foreign county, on a long trail through the woods where there are no other people to help me (or hear me scream?). And more important, I didn’t want to lose my camera. Alas, I was on a mission to find myself a hiking buddy. 

I thought I was good to go because I was already traveling with two girls. Surely they would want to come explore with me, thought I, as I proposed the idea to them like an excited puppy waiting for someone to throw the bone. Nope, they weren’t interested. Okay, second idea for a buddy – the Australian girl I met on the shuttle ride into Lago Atitlán. We were staying at separate hostels but had wanted to hang out some time during the week. She was down to go! Sweet. But then she got food poisoning. Bust. I was almost just gonna take the risk and book it by myself, when I ran into another girl at my hostel that I had spoken to a few nights before. I was actually on my way to my room to grab my stuff and go, when I saw her sitting on her bed. I stopped in and said, “Hey, you wanna go on a little adventure today?” She seemed interested so I told her a little blip about my idea and she decided to come along. YESSSS. I found myself a buddy. 

Off we went through San Pedro down to the boat harbor. We told the captain we were headed for Tzununá, and hopped in the lancha. About 30 minutes later (it’s a really big lake), we arrived at Tzununá, hopped off the boat and headed into the village. I had absolutely no idea where I was going. All I knew was that there was a trail somewhere and that we had to find it. We wandered for a bit down a dirt road past some small huts, in the direction we thought might be correct. Thankfully this girl (I actually can’t remember her name!) was so down for just doing everything on the fly. Other people might have been annoyed that I didn’t plan out the afternoon better, or might have been afraid of getting lost. Not this one – she saw the opportunity, like me, as an adventure. We didn’t know exactly where we were going, but we would find it somehow. I asked one of the locals where the trail might be, and the woman pointed in the direction we were already walking. So we continued. Pretty early on we got confused and thought the trail just ended into a driveway. So we turned around and went back to square one. We asked a different local. This one offered to walk us part of the way. We obliged. Sure enough, he brought us the exact way we had just come from, and the path we thought was a driveway was actually just a path. Go figure… The man who walked with us was so kind, and I got a chance to practice my Spanish for a bit. After accompanying us for 10 or 15 minutes, we thanked him and gave him a tip, then continued. 

The following photo is from our first really good view, once we got up into the cliff part of the trail. So peaceful, so calm, so majestic. Several times during of our hike, I had to stop and stare for a few minutes because the breath taking views prevented me from moving along. This photo honestly doesn’t do it justice. 

And another view. This lake is so big that sometimes it looks just like the ocean. Like so:

The steep volcanic terrain surrounding this crater lake still amazes me with its beauty. I’ve never seen anything like it.

And below was our view as we were close to arriving in Jaibalito. Really, we were looking for an infinity pool at the edge of Jaibalito, which conveniently had a poolside bar and a great view of the lake. Bam. We entered Jaibalito from the back, and as we walked through the streets, lined by colorful houses, the children of Jaibalito would run up to us, ask us in Spanish where we were going, and then would race each other to show us the way. They were all so friendly and giggly and cute! At one part, we spotted about 5 or 6 Jaibalito children all squashed onto a tree swing together – the CUTEST! I wanted to cry and take a picture but instead of being a weirdo gringo, I smiled, laughed, and kept walking. 

Unfortunately, when we arrived at the infinity pool, it was closed. Apparently they close on Tuesdays. Bummer! The two of us looked at each other, unsure what to do next. The sky was becoming an ominous dark grey color, so we weren’t sure if we should still follow the trail into Santa Cruz. We risked it anyway, walking another 30 or so minutes until we reached the village. This time we had some luck! We stumbled upon La Casa Rosa, a teeny little village inn which had huts for rooms, a roaming cat, hammocks, and the so-called “white beds” on the dock overlooking the lake. Lucky for us, it was happy hour and they were serving 2-for-1 drinks. We each ordered a cocktail and crawled into a hammock. These hammocks were seriously comfortable. We also were lucky because the rain started only after we reached the hut with hammocks, and lasted only a few minutes. 

After the cocktails, we went to chill on these marvelous white beds sitting over the lake! The view was amazing. And this is me trying to pose or something: 

Alas, we left for the dock to find a lancha which would take us back to San Pedro. Even though we didn’t get to experience everything we were looking for that day, it was certainly a day full of curiosity, spontaneity, adventure, and unexpected discoveries. My favorite way to travel. 

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3 thoughts on “A Wander Through Trails of Atitlán

    1. Yes aren’t they?! Honestly the pictures do not do it justice. The beds are actually on a dock on the the lake (though the lake is so big that it often appears like the ocean). The view is so amazing that the photo makes it appear like I’m in the middle of the ocean.

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