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Lake Atitlán - Part 2 - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Travelling

In this section, I will deal the what to expect in the way of place to stay and what to you will find in the way of food and drink. As I have already mentioned travelling by public transport is very cheap. Those who are on an ultra-low budget can use pickups and chicken buses to get around the whole country. While budget hostels and dormitories can cost as little as £5 a night and for £15 and upwards you can expect some comfort.

Accommodation can vary greatly here so some early investigation will be well rewarded. The Villa Santa Catarina in Panajachel is part of a small Guatemalan owned chain. It is a lakeside resort which is only five minutes from Panajachel itself. It has a big pool, a small whirlpool and carefully tended gardens. Its 38 rooms are simply decorated, with a few local touches. Doubles start from about US$100 which includes breakfast and taxes. Casa Palopó is one of the smartest properties on Lake Atitlán. It is a nine-room luxury boutique hotel, it is set above the lake, which means it has great views of the three volcanos. Rooms are lavishly decorated with colourful indigenous and contemporary art, and feature Italian luxury bed linens and L’Occitane bathroom goodies. Rooms here start from US$300 per night, including taxes and tip, and go up $450. Equally well is the Rupalaj K’istalin which is a community organisation that has 20 homestays in the area. It can also help with wider plans for lakeside explorers that want to have a more active holiday. Some of the many activities on offer include artisan fishing, hiking up the Cerro de la Cruz and Cerro de Oro volcanos, kayaking, mountain biking and zip lining.

The local food and drink can be a big part of any trip and Guatemala’s cuisine has not yet been fully overtaken by US-style fast food outlets. In areas where Maya culture dominates, such as Lake Atitlán, the diet is based around maize tortillas, savoury pancakes; frijoles, beans; rice, plantain, yuca, chicken, avocado pears and medium heat chilli sauces.

Tortillas come with just about everything. Often the fare is basic, but do look for traditional dishes such as adobo, which is an aromatic chilli based sauce and chunky meat and bean stews. Fresh fruit is widely available, so you can stock up on bananas, pineapples and more exotic items for hikes. In the touristy centres of Panajachel and San Pedro, you can fill up on steaks, good pizzas and pastas if you are then planning a few days away. You always seem to be able to find good organic coffee that is available in cafés in most towns and cities.

This is not a trip for everyone but at least there is something for everyone from $5 a night hostels to $450 luxury rooms.

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