Anytime we mentioned that we were heading to Lake Atitlan, we were met with gushing exclamations of ooohhh it’s so beautiful up there. So we thought we were ready for Atitlan but as we descended into the caldera that forms the lake we were amazed at the beauty of the place. Perfect volcanos rimed one side with green water and lush jungles inter spaced with cute towns cut into the side of the lake shore.
According to geologist the lake was formed about 1.8 million years ago when a massive volcano erupted catastrophically spewing volcanic ash as far away as Florida and Ecuador. The eruption known as Los Chocoyos eruption creating the massive caldera which was subsequently filled with water to form the deepest lake in Central America. The basin does not have any outlets and is mostly filled from underwater springs thus giving the lake a slightly higher salinity than most other fresh lakes. The lake has seen volcanic activity since the Los Chocoyos eruption as evidenced by the three massive volcanic cones on the south side of the caldera; the most recent eruption was Volcano Atitlan which erupted in 1858. Since then the lake communities have seen other hardship including earthquakes and several hurricanes that triggered massive mudslides as well as a civil war that raged from 1960-1998. The communities are living peacefully today, enjoying the influx of tourism that beautiful lake views bring.
We arrived at the lake via the city of Panajachal a typical jumping off point for boats shuttling passengers to the many small communities around the lake.
We were met at the embarcadero by Pedro our boat driver and taken to Santa Cruz La Laguna where we stayed at Casa Eggendal our home base for the next 9 days. With all our bag and groceries we had to hike a 1/4 mile up the hill (which seemed like 10 miles to the kids) to our villa amongst beautiful gardens; we were basically surrounded by a botanical garden with blooming flowers wherever you looked.
The hike straight up the mountain was made even more difficult being at an elevation of 5,541 ft but the views were worth it. Lots of beautiful stone paths that wound around the hills exhibiting views to die for. We had found our paradise, someone described it as the Lake Como of Central America. With all our bags unpacked we let the kids explore and Maddy and I went off for a walk along the shore.