A visit to Guatemala is not complete without a visit to Lake Atitlan. The massive lake provides options for different tourist types, but regardless of where you spend your time, the water invites and you will spend time on the lake (or even in it).
One of my favorite ways to explore is in a kayak. I rented one in the town of San Pedro relatively cheaply. I didn’t plan to paddle far (the lake seemed enormous by kayak), but I did spend an entire day on the water. It is easy to get lost in the beauty.
I moved deeper into nature with each refreshing stroke, and navigated through tall grass and even trees along the shoreline as I paddled further along the coast. Further and further into my day and deeper into the heart of Guatemala I traveled.
A Swim in Lake Atitlan
After an hour or two, I noticed a small, secluded beach with a few people swimming and decided to head ashore for a closer look.
I beached and secured my kayak on the sand, then headed back toward the lake to put my feet in. Refreshing. Very refreshing in fact. It was time for a swim. It’s no secret I prefer the ocean, but the clear water seemed very appealing under the warmth of the early afternoon sun.
Stories of pollution from 2009 do scare many from taking the plunge, but guide books list the lake as “safe” and I noticed many local Guatemalans in the water too. Follow the locals is advice I often honor on the road. I dove in and cooled off.
Adventure Travel Mindset Moment
On the beach I noticed a few European Spanish School students in bikinis sunbathing next to a colorful Mayan washing her clothes. Two worlds collided and coexisted. I wondered if each understood the other or if they judged their choices.
Later, back in San Pedro, and after the sunset on Lake Atitlan, I discovered a few more locals down by the water finishing laundry as their kids swam in the lake. They started to ask me questions. They were very open and curious as we conversed (in Spanish) and I responded with answers about my travels and asked questions of my own too. We both enjoyed learning.
I will always appreciate the moment we shared. Yes, the experiencing of cultures through travel it is a good thing and my kayak excursion on Lake Atitlan reminded me of that fact.
Stay adventurous, Craig