A magical environment
The magical lake of Atitlán is without a doubt one of the most beautiful lakes in the world! The lake is formed by the flooded crater of a dead volcano, which in turn, is surrounded by three other volcanoes overgrown by subtropical cloud forest. The English writer Aldous Huxlex aptly described the setting; “Lake Como it seems to me, touches on the limit of permissibly picturesque, but Atitlán is Como with additional embellishments of several immense volcanoes. It really is too much of a good thing.” We cannot agree more.
A visit to the lake of Atitlán
The lake owes its name to the Mayan word 'atitlan' which means 'the place where the rainbow gets its colours'. The lake has a circumference of about 20 kilometres and is surrounded by the volcanoes Atitlán, Toliman and San Pedro. At the lake there are 14 large and smaller Mayan villages. Almost all village names are derived from an apostle. A visit to one or more of these villages is worthwhile. It gives you a glimpse into the contemporary Maya culture; the Maya are known for their friendliness and the high quality of their handcrafted products. Many inhabitants of these villages still wear traditional costumes.
Santiago Atitlan is one of the villages on Lake Atitlan. The textiles you can buy here are of high quality, but this is not the main reason why you should visit this village. In this village, be sure to become acquainted with the special religious phenomenon, Maximón. Maximón is a saint, dressed in the shape of a doll with hat, sunglasses and cigar. Maximón lives in the house of a member of the Brotherhood of the Holy Cross, the main indigenous community of Santiago Atitlán, for one year at a time. During this year, visitors from all over the country are welcomed here. Believers, looking for favours and advice, visit Maximón and give him money, liqueurs and cigars as gifts.
Highly recommended! Every Sunday and Thursday in Chichicastenango, about an hour's drive from Lake Atitlan, one of the most beautiful indigenous markets in Central America. The market of Chichicastenango is also called the market of 'Chichi'. Typical for this town are the mud houses finished with white stucco. Surrounded by beautiful mountains, the city exchanges its serene tranquillity here on Sundays and Thursdays for a somewhat chaotic atmosphere. An enormous diversity of scents, different indigenous dialects, lively sounds and above all a lot of beautiful craftsmanship is the crowning glory of these days. Perhaps you will take some of the colourful Mayan fabrics with beautiful floral motifs, ceremonial masks, leather goods and/or jewellery home as a souvenir?
Did you know that there is an annual marathon here? This marathon is run in a spectacular setting, on the shores of the lake and on the cliffs of Atitlan.
Would you like to make a trip through Guatemala yourself and are you curious about the possibilities? Then take a look at the travel itineraries that we have put together for inspiration. You can book these trips directly, but we are also happy to create a personal programme based on your wishes and ideas.
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