Guatemala Vacation

Panajachel Lake Atitlan Gateway is located less than 90 miles from Guatemala City is considered the gateway to Lake Atitlan.  Panajachel sits on the northeast shore of the Lake and is the transport hub for the whole area, you can literally travel anywhere from Pana.  There is an estimated 15,000 people living in the Panajachel area with the local economy primarily based on tourism.

Panajachel Lake Atitlan Gateway

Getting to Panajachel for most travelers is by shuttle services from Guatemala International Airport and from Antigua.  From Guatemala City to Pana the cost is approximately $22.00 USD and from Antigua to Pana it is approxiktaley $11.00.  The shuttle service that we recommend is Transport Xocomil.  Their website is http://www.shuttlesinguatemala.com/ or you can reach them at (502) 7762-2005.

Once you arrive in Pana you will find everything you need in the way of hotels, restaurants, grocery stores and tour and travel operators along the main street of Calle Santander.   There are many vendors lining the street of Calle Santander as well selling weaving products of every shape and form, wood carvings, backpacks and clothing.

Panajachel Lake Atitlan Gateway

If you are looking for a hotel we highly recommend Jenna’s Bed and Breakfast located at the end of Rancho Grande near the playa.  It is without question the best bed and breakfast in Pana and the breakfast’s that Jennifer prepares are all homemade from scratch and are legendary.  For more information visit her website at http://www.jennasriverbedandbreakfast.com/

Along Calle Santander you can find hotels to fit any budget ranging from a low of $20.00 a night and moving up from there, during high season or holiday season prices increase.   For travelers who like to stay at upscale hotels with fireplaces in the rooms and multiple amenities I recommend Hotel Posada De Don Rodrigo in Panajachel  locatde at the end of Calle Santander by the Lake. This is a very friendly and quiet hotel that offers outstanding amenities.

Panajachel Lake Atitlan Gateway Food

Most restaurants in Panajachel serve typical Guatemalan food that is delicious and reasonably prices.  If you are adventurous you can find local stalls along the playa that sell amazing traditional tipico food.

Panajachel Lake Atitlan Gateway

La Palapa Bar Panajachel Lake Atitlan

Pana does have a Japanese Restaurant called La Hana that serves good sushi and tempura dishes.  The restaurant is located at Casa Cakchiquel.  Casa Cakchiquel is also the home of Radio 5, FM99.1 the local Radio Station in the Atitlan Basin as well as the home of an NGO called Thirteen Threads (Oxlajuj B’atz’).  Thirteen threads is working with and for the rights and opportunities of the mayan woman and is managing a fair trade store along Calle Santander.

For those in need of specialty item groceries visit Sandra’s and Chalos. Both have large inventories of groceries at reasonable prices.  For vegetable, fruit, and meat we shop at the local mercado each day.  The mercado opens at 8:00 and by 3:00 in the afternoon most of the vendors are closing shop.  The prices and quality of food is excellent.

Panajachel Lake Atitlan Gateway

The village of Pana comes alive in the evening with street vendors selling delicious tipico food.  You can find rellenitos de plátano, chuchitos, pupusas, tacos, elote, tostados, corn tamales, garnachas, chile rellenos, and many other foods.

The Palapa Bar is Pana’s favorite bar, restaurant and party hostel located in the heart of Panajachel.  Along with food and drink they offer a regular Texas Holdem poker game each week on Friday night.

The easiest way to get around Pana is by walking as driving and parking are difficult.  For those in need of transportation tuk tuk’s provide safe, fast and efficient transportation for Q5 within Pana.

Panajachel Lake Atitlan Gateway

Panajachel Church

If you want to travel to Solala the best way to get there is by a camioneta or chicken bus.  From Solala there is a network of camioneta’s that can take you anywhere throughout Guatemala.

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Getting around the Lake is easy using the lanches.  The public lanchas or water taxis travel around the lake and arrive and depart from most public piers every 20 minutes.  There are two piers in Pana in which the lanchas depart.

The first pier is located one block from Calle Santander just ask for the San Pedro, San Marcos, Santa Cruz boats and they will give you directions and let you know which boat to get on.  You can also take express boats between these villages.  The second pier is at the playa at the end of Rancho Grande.  This pier is for those wishing to travel to Santiago only.

If you are in need of exchanging money there are a number of banks located throughout Pana that will do this.  Make sure you have your passport with you as you will need to show them it when you exchange money.  Most banks will exchange up to $200 U.S. dollars for you per visit.  There are also a number of ATM machines, some of which give both quetzal, the local Guatemalan currency, as well as American dollars.

Cell phones, wifi and internet are available throughout Pana.  If you plan to stay at Lake Atitlan for longer than a few days, I would suggest buying a cheap cell phone.  For Q150 you can get a new phone that comes with Q150 of credit or minutes already on it.  You can purchase more minutes at any store or tienda that has a sign showing Claro, MovieStar or Tigo.

For information on tours of Panajachel Lake Atitlan Gateway and the surrounding communities visit the website of http://growyourowncure.org/.  They offer a variety of outdoor activities geared towards all age groups and adapt the tours to different fitness levels.