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Lake Atitlán - Part 1 - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Travelling

Lake Atitlán has become one of the new places to go for the traveller that wants to do something different. It’s located about 50 west of Guatemala City and can be most easily reached by flying with Iberia from London Heathrow-Guatemala City via Madrid. Returns are around £550 and the journey time is around 16-17 hours, including a short stop in Spain. Visas for UK nationals are granted on arrival and are valid for 90 days. US dollars are widely accepted, though you’ll need local currency too.

The climate here is very changeable in the dry season it is hot in the jungle but comfortably warm in the Highlands. There are many local fiestas held November December, so it can be noisy. The rainy season is overstated as it doesn’t rain all day but humidity is at its highest form July to September.

When you want to travel around the lakeside there are a few options. Each town or village has a playa pública which is a public jetty or pier from which motorboats known as tiburoneros depart. The boat owner leaves when he has 12 passengers, to make the journey worth his while. So it’s a flexible timetable. A typical crossing from Panajachel which is a major hub for lake traffic to San Juan La Laguna costs around £3. To get between villages using overland transport there are a number of choices. All of these choices are shall we say interesting and lean more towards the adventurous tourist then someone who want comfort, but then again this is what this whole trip is about. So the choices are between pickups, which basically carry as many people as they can squeeze on the back, tuk-tuks which carry three passengers in a little more comfort and safety and local buses which are known as chicken buses. Chicken buses compete with smarter, air-conditioned buses for the longer routes to Antigua and other major cities. All these are very economical as they are really for use by the local people.

The cost of travel is low in Guatemala making it a cheap country for travellers. Food and drink prices are low and generally, you can expect to pay £3-5 for lunch and perhaps a little more for dinner. You will find that 80p for a bottle of beer is about the going rate. Even a higher class meal in a hotel such as Casa Palopó will rarely cost more than £15. You should remember that wages are low here so a small tip, 10% is typical is appreciated.

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