Lake Atitlan – Old Town Outfitters Pedal and Paddle Tour – Guatemala in November

Lake Atitlan

Guatemala City and General || Life, living and Tips ||  First Antigua Ride with Backshop Bikes || Second Antigua Ride with Backshop Bikes  || El Zur with Old Town Outfitters ||  Lake Atitlan with Old Town Outfitters ||  Rio Dulce with Old Town Outfitters ||  Tikal ||

Lake Atitlan is a 340m deep lake which filled in an ancient Caldera formed by a Volcanic explosion 84,000 years ago. The lake is surrounded by three Volcanos that have risen from the Caldera – Volcán Atitlan, Volcán San Pedro and Volcán Tolimán. To say that Atitlan t is a popular tourist destination is an understatement. Located just 50km North West of Antigua its a blue gem in the tropical jungle. Atitlan is traditional Mayan territory, specifically the Tz’utujil and Kaqchikel nations and is surrounded by Mayan villages and trails. These Mayan trails are the trails we rode and hiked.

The area has a storied history and an ugly past; many Mayans died during the Guatemalan Civil war as part of a Government led campaign to quell insurgencies in the countryside. Atitlan and its villages are coming back, but robberies are still prevalant in rural areas so its best to get a read on local conditions before heading out.. Urban areas are relatively safe; Santiago Atitlan and Panajachel are the largest towns in the area. Pana is the main tourist town with the largest market and an amazing variety tourist goods and handicrafts for sale. Pana is the primary stopping point to the Atitlan and via a fleet of boat-taxis provides access to some of the towns surrounding the lake.

Guatemala – Atitlan mountain biking from Lee Lau on Vimeo.

Our trip to Atitlan started at Antigua and once again we were based out of the very convenient and comfortable Hotel San Jorge. leaving early to sample Old Town Outfitter’s two day Pedal and Paddle Tour. Marco shuttled us so we could maximize singletrack riding while Welber ensured we didn’t get lost. The first leg of our ride started at Las Prampas through cornfields and Indigenous villages which includes the Atitlan Slickrock trail. I didn’t include the GPS track of this section since it goes through small communities that Old Town Outfitters has established relationships for permission to access. The second leg was the popular
Santa Catarina Palapo “Precipicio” trail which starts at Mirador San Antonio descending the wonderfully narrow streets of Santa Catarina and eventually ends in Panajachel.

Our shuttle vehicle

Views of Lake Atitlan throughout our ride, the Kona Precept bike was a good choice for this trail.

Welber on a techy section, rockin it on his Kona Cinder Cone

Sharon in the corn fields.

Lee on the technical Slickrock section

Mayan’s collecting their wood old skool

We were offered a ride up the road by a local, yup we’ll take it!

Where Marco met us for lunch

Then we rode to the top of Santa Cat trail with views of Lake Atitlan

Down we go

Heading down the town

Santa Catarinans in traditional dress

We then went to our hotel where we had simply awesome views of Volcan Fuego blowing in the distance

Day two – Paddle and Hike.

We spent the night at Casa Del Mundo, a hotel in Jaibalito, Lake Atitlan that took 20 years to build. It’s owned by an American out of Alaska and a Guatemalan who raised their family there. You can tell this was a dream project for themas the hotel was finely built with intricate obsessive attention to detail. It’s a worthy place to stay accessible only by boat. Each room has hot water heated by Solar panels and spectacular views.

Casa del Mundo

Just to mix it up and see the country another way we went on a kayak paddle and hike loop from our hotel on Lake Atitlan. We paddled from Casa del Mundo to San Marcos La Laguna. At the dock we met another local who carried a machete just in case, and we hiked back 7km to Casa del Mundo.

Kayaking!

Now we hike

It was a nice trail to hike with great views, but not rideable unless your name is Ryan Leech…


Hike route and elevation

Then Lee and Welber went for a dip in the lake

While I enjoyed my liquido and Gallo

Where to Stay and Eat

Casa del Mundo. Pretty special place on Lake Atitlan. You could spend a lot of time here just chilling.

View from our room

Our room

Walkways in the Casa

Where to Eat

As access to this Casa is only by boat and the village is small, your meals are provided by the hotel at a fair price. The dinner was a set menu for all the guests, breakfast was a choice of eggs, oatmeal or other items with Coffee or Tea.

Breakfast

Lunch on the patio

 

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