Tradition meets luxury on Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
It’s rainy season in Guatemala, a time to plot your adventures for early in the day and brace yourself for the ensuing afternoon showers. But in Atitlan, theses showers are far from predictable. Torrential downpours flood the streets draining into the lake while thunder rumbles from all directions causing even the bravest among us to shudder in fear of the gods. A quick flash, a pause of realization your still on this earth, then a crackle and boom set the hairs on the back of your neck to tray table upright position. You’re in a volcanic microclimate now. The forces of nature are at work here, you’re small in a place like this. In fact, tiny.
There is an energy here, it’s palpable and real. A brief history of the region will leave you in awe. Forces from deep within the earth’s crust rose up and collapsed over millions of years. earthquakes and eruptions have shaken and resettled the places we walk today. Tragedy and triumph Spanish conquest, Mayan rebirth political upheaval and guerilla warfare have all left their mark on these lands.
The distant ghosts of days past cross paths with the present. Perhaps better here than anywhere, the Mayan way of life remains in tact several tribes call this mystical place home and greet the weary travellers with warmth and kindness robed in colourful traditional dress.
Taking it all in can be a challenge, the lake is dotted with towns of varying sizes each offering their own unique vibe. A short boat ride will get you anywhere you want to be. There is one place however that you can immerse yourself in the energy and beauty of lake Atitlan like no other.
Built of raw local materials and nestled into on the shore and among the steep hillside, Laguna Lodge is heaven on earth. We arrived under the cover of darkness and the veil of heavy rain. Peering just ahead underneath the drawn hoods of our rain jackets, glimmers of candle light, along the the stony path and staircase candlelit the way to reception. Pulling back our hoods we were greeted with Mayan hospitality, a warm fireplace and freshly squeezed papaya juice. As we take in the Mayan art and decor, natural materials and fine stone works, we cant help but grow excited at the thought that of how beautiful the rooms must be.
As the door swung open the room was revealed. Wall to wall windows with dual volcanic panorama views. To the left stands the vague silhouette of Volcan Toliman, and directly across the water the formidable shadow of San Pedro. A sight for the sorest of eyes. Despite the rains, the covered canopy terrace beckons me forward. Bags are dropped before a quick 360 of the room. I’m outside taking in the mystic scene, as my imagination wanders to a bygone era of exploration and daily life of the Mayan people alongside these hallowed waters. After prying myself away, I return to the room in total awe of the fine decor, cultural accents and grandeur of it all. Feeling grateful to be in from the storm and tucked away, I drift off to dreamland in total peace with a quiet excitement for the scene to be revealed at sunrise.
We wake up with the sun and sip coffees on the terrace, this time in plain sight of the volcanoes and lake. A peaceful scene emerges as the clouds part and the many towns that dot the lake come alive. One by one the early morning fishermen are replaced by water taxis shuttling tourists and locals from one point to the next. We make our way to the restaurant where the views are equally stunning and the food delicious. Locally sourced, the vegetarian diet is rich in flavours and nourishment.
With full bellies, a daily routine begins to take shape with relaxation and water at the heart of it all. Laguna Lodge is the perfect place to unwind for a few days. We move from breakfast to fruit juice on the deck, up to the covered terrace to catch up on emails before returning to the pool below.
As the afternoon heat settles in, the lake itself is a perfect place to cool down. Wrapped in a towel with a good book is the ideal way to dry off as the afternoon storm creeps over the mountain tops, such is the rhythm of Lake Atitlan.
The Lake has a way of drawing you deeper into nature. At Laguna Lodge, the days seem a little longer, the rest a little more peaceful. Allow your circadian rhythm to reset. Up with the sun, down with the sun, with a siesta in between.