Family Travel – Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala

If you’re new to Lake Atitlan area of Guatemala, chances are you will hear about Panajachel and think this is the biggest town on the lake. Well, it’s not. It may be the most notable one for the foreigners that populate it and visit it, however, the biggest city is actually Santiago.

Find out all the fun things to do in Santiago, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

When we first pulled up to this town we were amazed with the amounts of boats that are parked at the dock. Even though, you can drive into this city, the majority of the people still use wooden canoes as a mode of transport. FYI, it takes a good 1-2 hours to go anywhere with these little guys, obviously, there is no rush for anything!

So what’s the big deal with this town as compared to the next. Well, it’s tradition. First of all, its main inhabitants are Maya and they are still practicing their traditional ways here. Their religion has long ago mixed with the Catholic church, but this town still holds one of the highest esteemed Mayan Icons – Maximon. But we’ll get to that whole scenerio next week (it deserves a full post of its own!)

Once we stepped foot off our little boat on to the pier we were instantly surrounded by little kids and older men selling their services as tour guides to take you to see Moximon. One little guy stood out from the rest, no idea why. Maybe he was the most humblest of all, but we decided on him. He quoted us a price of 10 Quetzal which is about $1.20. Yeah, I know, ridiculous price! And obviously too good to be true. But since my husband is Guatemalan and we definitely didn’t have any language barriers, we believed him.

The tour included the city center, catholic church and Moximon. Since the town is more or less the same as the rest of the villages and it was scorching hot out, we decided to bypass all that and see Moximon.

We were asked by our little guide, “do you want to see the fake Moximon, which is here in the center, or the real one?”

Is that even a necessary question?

So off we went to see the real one. He was located about 2 kilometers out of town so we needed to take transportation there. We waited and in a few minutes a pick up packed with indigenous women and men flew past out, stopping for a heartbeat as we rushed to get on board. We all towered these people as though we were giants.

The ride had just begun! Even my husband, born and raised in Guatemala knew very little about this tradition. And our pick up was certainly skyrocketing us to get there.

The chaos had just begun…

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About Marina Kuperman Villatoro

Marina Kuperman Villatoro CEO of, a travel resource site to inspire families to travel with kids of all ages. Marina has been an expat 10+ years in Central America raising 2 boys in a multicultural, trilingual household. She travels all over the world with her family to give first hand experiences of where to eat, stay and play with kids. Needless to say, it’s never boring! Join Marina on Facebook and Twitter for more unique and boutique family travel!

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