If you are traveling to Guatemala you probably know that this country has one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. The Atitlan Lake of Guatemala is sitting in the middle of three volcanoes and in the crater of what used to be a massive volcano. Around all of this beauty, you will find small villages where the Mayan culture is still alive.
This is quite a touristic area of the country so you can expect some things to be overprized, but there are ways to experience the best of the Atitlan area without spending tons of money.
Here is how you save in Atitlan, Guatemala
1. Taking about tour along the lake is a must
This is the only way you have to truly appreciate the beauty of this place. It’s not expensive and you have a great time. But do this during the morning; winds tend to be too strong during the afternoon, making it a bit dangerous. A private boat tour can get expensive, plus some drivers tend to want to take advantage of foreigners, but going on a public one that serves as transportation to locals is much cheaper, ask other locals about the price to avoid being ripped off.
2. Hotel Hunting
The most popular of the towns around the lake is Panajachel, this is where you will find most of the facilities, but don’t forget to take a look at what the less popular villages have to offer. You might find bargains. However, if you want to party, Panajachel is the place for you. The lake is also flooded with luxury hotels but if you look deeper there are other hotels that are good and for much less like El Comal Hotel in San Juan La Laguna. It is much cheaper and it’s not a Hostel.
3. Restaurants and Eating
This is pretty similar to what I said about restaurants. There are a lot of trendy and gourmet restaurants in the main towns. However, if you open your eyes and walk away from the most touristic streets, you will find smaller and cheaper restaurants that offer traditional, homemade meals for as low as $3 including the beverage.
If you land a cheap airbnb with a kitchen, exploring the local fruits and vegetables market will be your cheapest option.
4. You can’t leave this area without visiting Maximon
This is a crazy mix between a Mayan god and a catholic saint that resulted of the conquest. They have a chaotic and unique ritual with many rules. But they’ll allow you to see it if you pay a fee but they tend to take advantage of foreigners and want to charge ridiculous amounts of money like $10 for the right to take 1 photo. But don’t despair, if you chat with the locals you might learn that there are a few reproductions where locals don’t charge as much.
5. Walk as much as you can
Try to avoid tuk-tuks and pickups that work as transportation. Sadly the trend of wanting to charge a ton to foreigners continues with them. Instead, walk as much as you can and take collective boats or chicken busses if you want to move from one town to the other.
As you can see these are all fun ways to get to know the area, learn about Mayan rituals and to have a good time without spending a small fortune.
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