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Panajachel, Solola, Guatemala PDF Print
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Lago Atitlan, Solola
October 14, 2015
By Brenda Starr, Roving Reporter

Looking for a way to beat the heat and take a short vacation from life on the Rio? Then pack up your cares, your bags, and don't forget your camera---come to Panajachel.

Panajachel is located on Lake Atitlan in the province of Solola, Guatemala-- just west of Guatemala City. Lake Atitlan is well known for its three volcanoes and some suggest this site is the "eighth wonder of the world." Here you will see spectacular views of the volcanoes whether the skies are blue or whether there is a mist on the mountains.  Temperatures range between 70 to 80 degrees (F) during the day and 55 to 60 (F) at night.

ImagePanajachel, as well as several other small communities, are scattered around Lake Atitlan's  shores. There are numerous Mayan groups who not only live in the Solola province, but are also living throughout the temperate mountain and volcanic regions of central Guatemala. You will see several patches of farmland during your ride to the area and will understand where most of your vegetables come from for this country.

Panajachel's main street in town is Calle Santander. Here you will find most of the restaurants, hotels, bars, and internet cafes, along with a multitude of stalls selling Guatemalan tipico and souvenirs. Several lodgings/hotels are dotted all throughout the village, but if you wish to make special arrangements for lodging beforehand, do a Google search to find something that suits your needs.

Transportation around Panajachel is easy as there are several tuk-tuks, and they charge Q5 per person to anywhere in the city one way. In other villages it will cost between Q3 to Q5 per person. Taxis are also available and can be located near the Mercado (Market) area. 

Public boats (lanchas) leaving for north-shore villages (Santa Cruz, Jaibalito, Tzununa, San Marcos, San Juan and San Pedro villages) are located at the Tzanjuyu dock at the end of Calle Embarcadero and cost from 10Q to 25Q per person  If you are interested in arranging a private lancha, you may easily set one up with the local launcha drivers on the spot. The best advice to give you is to walk along the malecon by the lake or visit the various travel agencies and they can give you times and directions to the correct launch points on the river to visit the other villages surrounding Lake Atitlan.

Some of the more notable restaurants/bars in Panajachel are:

ImageCrossroads Cafe (Tues-Sat 9am-1pm, 3-7pm) This is a must for coffee enthusiasts. Best coffee/cappuccino drinks on the lake with homemade pastries, brownies, cakes and cinnamon rolls. And, you can purchase their coffee by the pound. It is a favorite of the expat community and Mike, the proprietor, is a walking encyclopedia full of local information.

Guajimbos - Great restaurant for steak sandwiches and meats in general (closed Thursdays)

Circus Bar - Specialties include pizzas, fish and meat; good live music every night

Chinatas El Patio - Pana's only Asian restaurant with authentic Asian dishes

Restaurant Hana - Delicious Japanese food including spectacular, genuine sushi and soups

Tuscani - Fantastic home-made pizzas on a thin crust, great mojitos

Cafe Kitch - German bakery and cafe

Mr John's Desayunos - Best breakfast in Pana with homemade smoked salmon, Eggs Benedict, Bisquits and Sausage Gravy with eggs and hashbrowns

Smokin' Joe's BBQ located at La Palapa on Saturdays only, best pulled pork sandwiches by far, plus baby back ribs, BBQ chicken and fish.

There are also several places that have live music nightly, for instance, Circus Bar, Pana Rock, Atlantis Bar and Restaurant, La Palapa; there's even a disco for the dancing enthusiasts.

In addition, there is a multitude of activities available such as scuba diving, a butterfly sanctuary and nature reserve tour, spa treatments, massages and hair-cuts, alternative health treatments, yoga, swimming pools, Spanish schools, kayaking, horseback riding, paragliding, hiking and museums/galleries.

And, while you are here, you can visit some of the local grocery stores that carry American products as well as fresh cheeses, and packaged meats: Charlos and Sandras is located on Calle Principal and Sandras II is located on Santander. The Mercado is located at the end of Calle Principal and has fresh flowers, vegetables and fruits every Sunday morning.

So, lock up your boat or the doors to your house and take a shuttle to Panajachel for a few days--if you do it as a group, the shuttle will be cost effective for all and you'll have friends to enjoy the trip. You'll be glad you took a break to experience some of Guatemala's heritage and spectacular scenery.

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