Planning on visiting San Pedro on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala? San Pedro was the first stop on my Guatemalan adventure. If you are planning a trip to Guatemala make sure you don’t skip a visit to Lake Atitlan, and especially San Pedro. Despite its relatively small size, there is plenty to do in San Pedro.
1. Get a drink and stare out across the lake at Shanti Shanti
While I was in San Pedro most of my afternoons were spent here staring out across the Laguna whilst sipping Mojitos and trying to work. It’s the perfect spot to chill out and plan what you are going to do next.
2. Hike San Pedro Volcano
Ok so confession time, I didn’t actually do this. I know I should have but to be honest, I was having such a nice time and I had heard so many mixed things that I decided to give it a miss. But I did do plenty of research and spoke to a lot of people who did it so here’s what you need to know if you want to do it. Leave early, I’m talking 4 am if you want to watch the sun rise or 6 am at the latest if you want to get up there before the clouds move it.
You need to pack warm clothes and plenty of snacks and water. It’s warm for the first part, once you get about half way up it will become really cold so be prepared, I’m talking woolly hat, coat and gloves cold. You don’t need a guide do n’t bother booking through a tour agent. Get a tuk-tuk and ask them to drop you off at the foot of the volcano. You will then need to pay the 100Q entrance fee and the guide will direct you to the path. Apparently, the path is very clear and its well maintained. The walk is hard and its all up hill. It will take between 2.5-4 hours depending on your fitness levels.
3. Indian’s Nose
If like me you decide that a 2.5-4 hour gruelling uphill hike isn’t for you, but you want to see a sunrise over Lake Atitlan than Indian’s Nose is the hike for you. It does involve a really early start and a pretty steep 45 min hike but its totally worth it. I wrote a whole post about it here I loved it so much. The best thing about it is that you get a stunning view of all 8 volcanoes. The morning I went up there I was even lucky enough to catch Fuego erupting!
4. Take a dip in the Sola Pools.
You need to let them know 1 hour before you want to go in so they can make sure they are warm for you. If you have done one of the local hikes then this is the perfect way to recover and ease your tired muscles.
5. Take Spanish Lessons
This should probably be the number one thing to do as its what brings most people to San Pedro in the first place. There are so many schools dotted around the village you can take your pick! If you can make sure you book ahead though as all of the schools were fully booked the week I was there! I studied at The Cooperativa school and you can read all about my experience here and also about the things you need to consider before booking an intensive course here.
6. Learn to Weave
The best place to learn to weave, or learn about weaving in the traditional Mayan way is at one of the many women’s weaving cooperatives in San Juan. They will show you around their working environment, give you a demonstration and you will get to have a try yourself. If you want to make something yourself be warned it will take many hours! I did want to make something and I opted to take a class with Isobel at Solar Pools. It took me the best part of 2 days to make a scarf, it is my most treasured possession right now and has given me a whole new appreciation for weaving and just want goes into hand making all of the goods tourists are haggling over at the markets!
I love to learn to cook the traditional dishes of each country I visit. I think it’s a great way to learn more about a culture. There is a great school in San Pedro offering day and week long courses that teach you to cook traditional dishes in the traditional way.
8. Trips around the Lake
If you are basing yourself in San Pedro for a while then make sure you take some day trips to the other villages around the lake. Or alternatively, work your way around the lake stopping for a night or two at each village. The ones I would recommend are:
You can’t visit Lake Atitlan without stopping off at this hippy mecca. If it’s spiritual healing you are after you are in the right place. Choose from Yoga, Reiki, massage, flower healing and chanting to name but a few. Or if you are feeling like getting the real San Marcos experience at 12:30 every day there is a Caco ceremony at a guy called Keith’s house. It lasts for 6 hours! But if you are interested in energy healing or fancy trying something different then this is for you. Cost is 200Q if it’s your first time. To find Keith’s house just ask a local and they will direct you.
If you came to san Pedro via Panajachel then you might have already visited. If not I’d recommend an overnight stay there so you can see the sunset. Panajachel is the ideal place to see the sun setting on the lake as you have views across the water of the volcanos. It also has a great market and some really nice places to eat. If you go there make sure you pop into Crossroads Cafe for a coffee with Mike. If you want to go to Chichi market this is the best place to leave from. I wrote a post about that here.
This was possibly one of my favourite things to do in San Pedro (after Indian’s Noes). Make sure you go in the morning as in the afternoon the wind can make the water pretty choppy.
10. Eat a Falafel
I know this sounds crazy BUT san Pedro has the best falafel outside of Israel. There is a place called Ha-Falafel and if you are in San Pedro you really need to eat there. The staff are great and it will set you back 25Q.
11. Admire the Street Art
San Pedro and a few of the other villages around the lake have some of the most incredible street art I have ever seen. So get lost in its windy streets and don’t forget your camera!
If you liked this post and you are planning a trip to Guatemala make sure you check out all my other posts!
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