Ooaj Travel Guide, tourism, hotel reservation, residence, plane, cheap pension for you holidays in panajachel
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Panajachel is in the Western Highlands of Guatemala. Panajachel, or Pana as it is widely known is a small town on the North shore of Lake Atitlan. Pana is a small town with a booming tourist industry. With the exception of possibly Antigua, Panajachel is one of the major tourism areas in Guatemala.
Chicken buses from Guatemala City leave approximately every hour, from 6am to 4pm, and cost only a few dollars US. However, the ride is long, and it can be quite uncomfortable if the bus gets crowded (which it almost certainly will).
Many tourist agencies will arrange tourist buses transport to Panajachel. For instance, as of December 2005 a space in a minibus from Antigua to Panajachel was USD $7.00 per person each way.
Panajachel itself is quite small, and you can walk practically anywhere within 10 minutes. Small three-wheel taxis (TucTuc) continually circle the few streets, and cost 10Q or less for any destination.
Shuttle boats to other cities around the lake, such as Jabailito, San Marcos, San Pedro, etc, leave regularly from the public pier. The cost is about 20Q one way.
- Scuba diving, In the nearby village of Santa Cruz La Laguna is ATI Divers, tel. 8872-2621. Diving in the lake is interesting as this is high altitude diving into a fresh water lake. Also, due to the fact the volcanic activity is present there are hot beds under the bed of the lake. At various points it is possible to burn your hands by digging them into the floor of the lake. There is not much life in the lake but it is possible to see tiny jellyfish and a number of smaller fish. ATI Divers do the PADI open water course for $175 over four days. PADI advanced is $195. Fun dives are $25/$45. They also do an altitude dive course. Located on the same site and run by the same people is La Iguana Perdida. See sleep below. http://www.laiguanaperdida.com/index.php
- Travel Agency, Katok Attitlan tel. 77622786. On the main street in Pana, this travel agency will help organize trips and shuttle services. They get great reviews for profesionalism and not overcharging tourests.
Mayan girls walk the streets of Pana from morning until night selling authentic Mayan good such as textiles, paintings and jewellery. They can be quite hard sellers and will approach people dining in restaurants. It is quite common to be approached a dozen times while eating. It is a little off putting but a firm 'No thanks' should do the trick. Prices of the good on offer seem to compete fairly well with shops selling similar goods in Pana. If you see something you like it is still highly recommended to haggle. Try and pay around half to two thirds of the original asking price as a guide.
If you're interested in buying traditional Mayan clothes or textiles, this is a great place to do it. The quality of textiles here is significantly higher than in most other places of the country.
- Al Chisme, Comercial El Pueblito, Av Los Arboles, tel. 7762-2063.
- Guajimbo's, Calle Santander. The menu notes that their vegetables are disinfected and they use purified water for drinking water and ice.
- Las Chinitas, Plaza Los Patios, Calle Santander. Serving delicious Chinese, Japanese, and Malaysian food in a variety of combinations. On one night the crowd was almost entirely foreigners, with a folk band of gringos playing 60's and 70's American hits. They use purified water for vegetables and drinking.
- La Terezza, Edificio Rincon Sai, Calle Santander, tel. 7762-0041.
- Pana Pan, Calle Santander.
- Sunset Cafe, at the foot of Calle Santander. The tables are located in an open room with gorgeous views over the lake. Prices are mid-range, with entrees at Q30-40. The menu notes that their vegetables are disinfected and they use purified water for drinking water and ice.
Towards the bottom of Calle Santander and near the bus stop on Calle Principal there are a number of street vendors selling Tacos, Sweetcorn, Sweet nuts and other snack foods. These are a good cheap option for the budget traveller.
- ´´´Casa Del Mundo´´´, Mid range price US$ 25 per night with own room and shared bathroom or US$ 50 per night with own room and bathroom. It´s a 15 minute boat ride to this secluded villa on the lake set apart from everything. This is a small hotel with about 15 luxurious rooms and amazing food. Be prepared to pay about 75 Quetzals extra for the three course dinner they serve, its the only way to eat. Bring a swimsuit because this is the ideal place to lounge in hammocks or simply float in the water.
- Villa Lupita, Budget Option US$ 5 per room with shared bathroom. Lovely, family owned place. Clean and cared.
- Grand Hotel, Calle Principal, tel. 762-2940. This hotel can get busy at weekends due to an influx of visitors from Guatemala City.
- La Iguana Perdida, Santa Cruz La Laguna, tel. 7762-2621, 5705-4117. If you are looking for somewhere to get away from it all for a few days this place is ideal. It is located on the edge of the lake right by the boat stop for Santa Elena La Laguna. La Iguana Perdida makes a nice change from Panajachel. This medium sized (sleeps 80+) hostel has no electricity or hot water, although they do have a sauna which helps in the cold nights. The hostel works on a trust basis. All drinks and food are paid for on checkout. Apart from hanging around the hostel and diving there is nothing else to do on this site. To get here take a boat from Panajachel heading towards San Pedro.
- Primavera,a mid-scale hotel right in the middle of Panajachel. Renovated in 2000, most of the rooms are on the second floor. Cost is about $40US per night.
- Hotel Atitlan, about a half mile outside of Panajachel proper, this is a luxury hotel with extensive, beautifully-designed gardens leading right up to the lake, and an aviary with macaws, parrots, hummingbirds, etc. The hotel lobby has a theme of antique Catholic wood carvings. The outdoor unheated pool offers a great view of the volcanoes. It's located about a five minute walk from the butterfly sanctuary. $110US per night for a double with a balcony and a view of the lake and gardens.
- Hotel Utz Jay, on Calle 15e de febreo between Calle Santander and Calle Ranchos Grande. Quiet rooms for USD 20 set around a pretty courtyard. Private baths with hot water, and a sauna on the grounds. Breakfast available, but not included. You can also book tours here. firstname.lastname@example.org (mailto:email@example.com), 1 (http://hotelutzjay.com).
- Bungalows El Rosario, on Calle Del Lago between Calle Rancho Grande and Calle Ramos. Set on a short cobblestone drive back from the street, with about ten double rooms around a private courtyard. Rooms are clean, simply built with stone and concrete, livened up with bright paint and a few traditional woven cloths and wooden masks for decoration. All rooms have private bathrooms with showers, and hot water available from 6:00h to 22:00h. The idyllic setting is marred by loud disco music from the adjacent restaurants until mid-evening, with the laughter and chatter of other guests after then. Q150.00 for double occupancy, Q100 for single occupancy (as of December, 2005). When we were there, they raised the single room price to Q150 on a busy weekend night. There are reports that prices also rise on other peak nights and seasons.
- Guest House Casa Loma, on a small side street off Calle Rancho Grande near the Calle de Buenas Nuevas. Has private parking. No information on rooms or rates as of December 2005.
See the Get in section for advice on chicken busses and tourist busses out of Panajachel.