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Visit Central America’s Largest Markets and See the Cutest Creature You Didn’t Know Existed from This Lakeside Town

The Lovely Panajachel on Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

By Sh*t Happens - Lost Girl TravelPublished 2 months ago 4 min read
Could they be any cuter?! (Photo credit to the author)

We had a pretty rocky start to our stay in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. First, we felt a little stranded by our Spanish lessons in our least favourite town on the lake San Pedro, and then in the lovely San Marcos we got struck down with Covid-19 and had to spend our time there isolating.

When we visited the little village of Santa Cruz, which had the most beautiful views of Lake Atitlan, things were looking up. It’s teeny tiny but so pretty. In particular, when you head up to the wonderful community-run restaurant at the top of the hill. It was steep, and we were cursing the full way up, but of course, it was worth it (isn’t it always?!).

For our final stop, we headed to Panajachel which is the largest town on Lake Atitlan and the most well connected to the rest of the country. This is usually the first stop and the point of entry for most people visiting Lake Atitlan, we did things the opposite way around.

After spending a long time (much longer than we had intended) in the smaller, quieter lakeside towns, I loved the hustle and bustle of Panajachel! It was fun to look through the stalls selling typical Guatemalan tourist wares and to see bars and restaurants busy with a great atmosphere. There was life and some great food here along with drinks and live music.

Here we had my favourite day on Lake Atitlan visiting the small local nature reserve. We were slowly recovering from long Covid and it felt great to be back out in the fresh air and nature and do a little walking to regain our strength.

When you first enter, there’s a small zip line in the playground (big enough for big kids like us to play on too), and a small butterfly house to visit. It had some lovely specimens, especially this butterfly which had wings that were clear and looked as if they were made of stained glass.

My favourite butterfly with wings that looked like stained glass. (photo credit to the author)

I have a real sweet spot for owl eye butterflies (photo credit to the author)

We explored the forest, walked across hanging bridges, gazed at waterfalls, and ended up at a little pebble beach to look out across the lake. I felt grateful and happy to be back out in the world.

Me walking across a hanging bridge in the Lake Reserve (photo credit to Joseph Mitchley)

But, the best part of all was the coatis! The what?

The coatis, these adorable furry, woodland creatures with long snuffly noses, curious little things scampering about. I couldn’t quite believe just how many of them there were! They were just too cute!

They were even cute when they were fighting standing up on their back legs, star fishing their little front legs, and making a high-pitched squeak.

They were a lot of fun to be around, and we just fell in love with them.

A coati! (Photo credit to the author)

On another day we visited Chichicastenango (otherwise known as Chi Chi) market, which was a lot of fun! This is well known as the largest market in Central America and it didn’t disappoint! It was certainly a full day’s activity.

Chichicastenango Market (photo credit to the author)

Joe was the shopaholic in the relationship, he pretty much bought a whole new wardrobe and then spent the rest of the trip cursing himself for doing so when it wouldn’t all fit in his backpack!

I settled on a gorgeous turquoise Guatemalan mini backpack and some cute Guatemalan dolls for my niece and nephew.

Whilst enjoying a beautiful lunch at a rooftop cafe we were lucky enough to catch sight of a religious parade below. (Very lucky, apparently it only happens once a year!)

Chichicastenango market, the religious parade snaking through the stalls

After lunch, we followed the crowds to the church for the finale of the parade. It was wonderful to watch although it did involve some street fireworks that were a little close for comfort!

Chichicastenango market, the religious parade finale! (photo credit to the author)

I must point out however to be careful of pickpockets when visiting the markets.

While walking around the indoor market, at one point there was some commotion, and it became suddenly busy, with a crowd creating a false bottleneck forcing everyone close together. I could see no real cause of it.

Joe instantly put both his hands in his pockets to protect his things. A man pushed his bag up against Joe, the bag had a hole in it, and out of that hole came a hand trying to grope in Joe’s pockets. When instead it found his arm, it tried to his arm out of his pocket. Luckily Joe managed to keep his hand in his pocket.

The sudden crowding dissipated as quickly as it came, leaving all the tourists looking rather puzzled. Joe noticed that his other (thankfully already empty) trouser pockets had all been unzipped.

So, pickpockets aside (just have your wits about you at the market), if you’re heading to Lake Atitlan, don’t just use Panajachel as a quick jumping-off point. Instead, be sure to stay for a couple of days to visit Central America’s largest market and say hello to my new favourite animals at the nature reserve!

Thank you for reading! Hearts and tips are always welcome, and your support is very much appreciated.

This story was originally published on Medium

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About the Creator

Sh*t Happens - Lost Girl Travel

Hi! I’m Georgie and I share travel stories of when sh*t happens. I think that sometimes the worst things that happen to you traveling, are often the funniest

Follow me on Instagram! https://www.instagram.com/sh.t_happens_lost_girl_travel/

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Comments (5)

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  • Daphsam2 months ago

    Gorgeous photos and travel!

  • Sounds like you're back in the groove of things & having a whole lot of fun. And yes, I agree, they are cute.

  • Kelsey Clarey2 months ago

    Beautiful pictures! Looks like a great trip.

  • Great piece and some amazing pictures

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