Last July my wife and I spent 8 days of our honeymoon at the Lake Villa, and had a fantastic time! Our wonderful hosts Traci and Mark really went out of their way to make sure we had a great time. We really enjoyed our exciting days and relaxed evenings on the lake, but especially the FOOD! The Villa is enormous – there is plenty of space to both socialize and to duck away for some privacy. We stayed in the lake room and recommend it for the great view.
I’ll try to cover all of the information I can here, because we found Guatemala to be a fascinating and sometimes wild place to visit.
Food: While my wife is vegan, I am an everything-vore. I appreciate good food, and it is my pleasure to thank Traci for her outstanding vegan meals. In my experience vegan food is as good as the chef, and I can’t think of anything we didn’t like! I personally thought breakfast on the patio the best. Beautiful scenery combined with delicious coffee, fresh fruit, home made bagels, vegan scramble, etc.
Hosts: Mark and Traci are great! We opted to have one or both of them accompany us on daily outings. It was great to have them around as guides and friends. Mark has lived 30 some-odd years around the lake, which means he knows just about all of the history and some pretty wild stories. He also helped with our spanish – or lack thereof – during our trips around the lake.
Transportation: First off, we were thrilled to have Mark pick us up in Guatemala City after spending the night at the Barcelo. The trip from the city to the Villa was pretty wild, something like 3-4 hours on poor roads, with the feeling that one of the many chicken buses just might run you over. I was comfortable with Mark driving, but I can’t recommend renting a car unless you’re prepared for that kind of driving experience.
During our trip we either traveled across the lake by boat, or overland by car, which was great. I think you could get around by Tuk Tuk or pickup truck if you’re feeling adventurous, but you’ll probably want speak some basic Spanish. The Lake villages felt friendly and welcome to tourists, in fact we ran into many people visiting from other English-speaking countries.
Activities: Our day trips included shopping at markets, zip lining, and hiking. We did a lot of shopping, especially with the beautiful hand-woven textiles and artwork. The exchange rate is nice if you’re visiting from the US. Each village really has its own unique culture, which I didn’t really believe until I saw it for myself. I found it very interesting that villages only a few miles apart were so different. We tried to experience and support the local businesses when we found them.
We hiked the local Cerro de Oro ‘mini volcano’ one day, and then tackled the San Pedro volcano hike the next day. Be prepared that the San Pedro hike is very steep. It’s a stair climb for about 3 hours up, but the view at the top is hard to beat.
Weather: It was about 80 degrees and sunny every day, and a temperate 60-65 at night. We visited in July during the ‘rainy season’ but it literally did not rain until the day we left. In fact it was described as a drought. My wife and I both bought new raincoats before visiting, expecting to get poured on during one of our hikes, and never used them. Go figure. I guess being prepared is some kind of rain ward.
In summary, we really appreciated the culture, people, food, hosts, and everything else that Lake Atitlan had to offer. It’s a really unique place to visit, and staying at the Lake Villa was a great way to experience it all. We would love to come back and visit some time!