The first time I found the village of San Antonio Palopo was during a hike from Panajachel. We heard that the village of San Antonio Palopo was famous for the hand crafted pottery and ceramics that are produced by two small ceramic factories.
The hike from Panajachel to Santa Antonio Palopo is about 9 kilometers and takes about 3 hours of steady walking. This hike takes you along the winding roads that hug the shoreline of Lake Atitlan with stunning views along the way. The road is well traveled and very safe for walking.
Once you leave Pana the first village you come to is Jucanya. Jucanya seems more a part of Pana then a separate village. You will walk through this village pretty quickly and then it’s off to Santa Catarina Palop0 which is about a 5 Kilometer walking distance from Panajachel.
Santa Catarina Palopo is a small indigenous village that is known for their traditional weavers and artists that line the main street of the village. This village has a nice hotel called Hotel Villa Santa Catarina that is located along the Playa.
The walk from Santa Catarina to San Antonio takes you by a number of large private homes as well as beautiful hotels. Casa Palopó, the number one rated hotel in Guatemala is located just outside Santa Catarina and has breathtaking views of the Lake. Tzampoc is a resort which is also located in the same area and has the most amazing zero edge pool with unobstructed views of Lake Atitlan and the three volcanoes — Atitlan, Toliman, and San Pedro.
Lake Atitlan San Antonio Palopo
Upon entering the village of San Antonio Palopó you are met with the sweet aroma of onions that waft of the terraced fields that surround the village. The village of San Antonio Palopo is a small relatively untouched village that is known for their numerous weaving cooperatives and for their renowned ceramics.
The weaving cooperatives can be found throughout San Antonio Palopo. If you are interested in visiting the ceramic factories upon entering the village you will want to take the lower road that winds along the shores of the Lake.
You will know that you are on the right road when you see the sign for Hotel Nuestro Sueno on your left. Continue until you pass another hotel by the name of Hotel Terrazas del Lago. You will see the first ceramics factory on your left a few hundred yards past the Hotel. The other ceramic factory is located a few hundred yards farther along the road up the hill and on your right.
I am not a big pottery or ceramics person, however, the colors used and the hand made process of painting the detail into these pieces of art truly captured my interest. The ceramic factories are small scattered groups of building to make up the production areas of the factories. The people are very kind and are more than willing to allow you to wander through the maze of small building which makes up the Factory.
After visiting and touring the ceramic factories our stomachs were rumbling so we decided to find something to eat. We found the perfect place located across the street from Hotel Nuestro Sueno, it was a little Ceviche stand located right on the beach and it was absolutely delicious.
After filling our stomachs we walked up the hill to the San Antonio Palopo Church. As you wind your way through the walkway up towards the Church you pass through a number of small weaving cooperatives where you can watch them weave.
Lake Atitlan San Antonio Palopo
At the top of the hill is the Church and also the most amazing Cross that overlooks the Lake. As a side note, this village also has beautiful processions and alfombras during Semana Santa or Holy Week.
Your transportation choices for returning to Panajachel from San Antonio Palopo are the following. You can walk back along the roads that you took to get to San Antonio Palopó, you can take a tuk tuk, or you can take a collective which is a Toyota pickup with small benches in the back.
All transportation leaves from the San Antonio Palopo Church. The cost of a collectivo is a bargain at Q5 one way and is the easiest and most efficient way to return.
The hikes and tours that I have described are The Lake Atitlan Village Tour Santa Catarina Palopó and San Antonio Palopó and the Semana Santa in Guatemala Good Friday Tour.