Amazing Places: Lake Atitlan

Erika De Paz

Lakes give us a feeling of peace few other places can give. They all convey that special powerful calm that invites us to think and connect with ourselves. There are many lakes in the world, and though we might think  they are all alike there’s one that stands out. When we visit Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, we understand that there’s one lake in Latin America that is special.

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This is the deepest lake in Central America, with approximately 350 meters in depth. It’s located in in the Solola department, and it’s surrounded by three volcanoes. They all can be visited by tourists: Atitlan (3537 m), Toliman (3158 m) and San Pedro (3020 m).

The blue waters of Lake Atitlan are known for their extremely clean waters: they reach 99% purity in the center and are medicinal in other areas of the lake. Unfortunately, they are being affected by pollution. The unplanned urban growth and waste mismanagement is negatively impacting this beautiful place.

The most beautiful lake in the world

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Aldous Huxley, the English novelist and author of Brave New World, described Lake Atitlan as “the most beautiful lake in the world”. Guatemalans agree, of course; but also tourists and National Geographic, one of the most important publications out there.

This lake with a volcanic origin is one of the main tourist destinations in Guatemala thanks to its breathtaking beauty. With a surface of 130 km², this large body of water surrounded by mountains constitutes one of the most majestic landscapes in Latin America. Unlike shades on a canvas, the colors of Lake Atitlan are ever changing: depending on the time of day, light reflects off its waters and makes it look different at every hour.

The twelve apostles of Lake Atitlan

Lake Atitlan is surrounded by eighteen islands and twelve Mayan villages that are known as the Twelve Apostles. Each one has its own landmarks and activities that satisfy visitors’ interests. Whoever wants to meditate can go to San Marcos, but if they prefer a party, then San Pedro La Laguna is the best choice: it’s the top backpacking town in the area.

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In the surrounding settlements of this wonderful lake, it’s like time has stopped. Many of the traditions of the people who live there remain the same: the food and the clothing haven’t changed. Tourists can get to know their customs, but they can also have fun with adventurous activities like scuba diving, walks, and hikes to the volcanoes.

At noon, the peace is blown away

There is a strong wind called Xocomil that blows over Lake Atitlan. This happens at noon when the southern winds meet the colder air currents that come from the plateau. This clash forms swirls that make waves in the water.

However, the rest of the day the lake is like a mirror that reflects peace. It’s a spiritual place that fills the soul, an unforgettable postcard that stays with us forever.

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Without a doubt, Lake Atitlan is a magical tourist destination that will leave you breathless. A landscape like no other that we can only find in Latin America. Don’t forget to visit this wonder hidden between volcanoes and lush vegetation. It’s an amazing place that will have your heart from the start.