Things to do in
Panajachel

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Our most recommended things to do in Panajachel

Lake Atitlan: Mayan Ceremony at the Sacred Caves

1. Lake Atitlan: Mayan Ceremony at the Sacred Caves

Experience an important ceremony of the Maya people of Guatemala at the most sacred and holy location on Lake Atitlan. Transfer to the trailhead from Panajachel. Then, walk to the 1st cave (a maximum 20-minute hike). Named “Nimajay,” “San Simon,” “Singing” and “Colorado,” the 4 caves have been used by the Mayans for centuries for their Fire Cleansing and Protection Ceremony. The highland tribes travel for hours to visit the holy caves, and you will feel the energy and power as soon as you approach the cave entrance. Watch the shamans perform the ceremony (not guaranteed, but available on most days), and experience an authentic part of the living Mayan culture of the Guatemala highlands. Your guide will explain why the ceremonies are performed, and teach you about the ritual and unique meanings of the Mayan calendar. Located 1,200 feet above Lake Atitlan, the caves offer panoramic views of the lake and caldera. Stand on top of Eagle Rock, and marvel at how the earth drops hundreds of feet around you. Feel your spirit soar like a bird as you stand with nothing but air on all sides. You can also visit the shrine of San Simon/Maximon, the colonial church, and a 200-foot waterfall.

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Chichicastenango and Panajachel One Day Tour

2. Chichicastenango and Panajachel One Day Tour

This day-long tour of Guatemala, beginning from Antigua or Guatemala City, covers market villages to picturesque lakes and is sure to give you a bar-none introduction to some of the country's loveliest sights! Start your day at the open market of Chichicastenango. Here, you can explore the indigenous market and witness the incessant exchange of fruits, vegetables and handicrafts between local people and foreigners. This charming local market really does offer just about everything—you can even shop for wood products, ceramics and the sorts of gifts that the Mayan priests offer on their pre-hispanic altars. We will then move on to visit Santo Tomás church, where the Popol Vuh (The sacred book of the Maya) was found. For the perfect end to the day we will spend the remainder of our time overlooking one of the world's most beautiful lakes.

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Lake Atitlan Full-Day Tour with Shared Boat Trip

3. Lake Atitlan Full-Day Tour with Shared Boat Trip

Cruise across Lake Atitlan and visit the villages of San Juan La Laguna on this full-day shared sightseeing tour. Ringed by 3 volcanoes on its southern flank, Lake Atitlan is the deepest lake in Central America. Departing from Panajachel, at the gateway to the lake, your private guide will take you on a scenic shared boat trip before exploring some local textile communities and the Mayan villages of San Juan La Laguna. Get amazing views of the Atitlan, Toliman and San Pedro volcanoes, as you experience for yourself why the area became such a Mecca for beatniks and bohemian writers such as Aldous Huxley. Capture the scent of coffee plantations, and then try some freshly ground coffee. Here, you can immerse yourself in the laid-back vibe of the Tz'utujil Mayans and turn the noisy dial of modern life down to zero.

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3-Day Tour of Lake Atitlan & Chichicastenango Market

4. 3-Day Tour of Lake Atitlan & Chichicastenango Market

Experience two of Guatemala's most celebrated points of interest: sparkling Lake Atitlan and the Chichicastenango Market on this 3-day tour from Antigua. Visit the highland town of Chichicastenango, world-famous for its open-air market. Here you'll find amazing handicrafts created by the indigenous Maya people as you witness an incessant exchange of fruits and vegetables. Next to the market stands the Church of Santo Tomas, a 16th-century church where you can observe age-old Mayan rituals being performed. Filling an enormous caldera and surrounded by volcanoes and traditional Mayan villages, Lake Atitlan has become renowned for its indescribable beauty and unique cultural history. Spend a day on a guided boat tour of the lake and surrounding towns, then experience the nightlife of Panajachel. Detailed Itinerary Day 1: Antigua ̶ Chichicastenango – Panajachel Travel from Antigua to Chichicastenango. Explore the open-air market, where a wide array of produce, finely woven textiles, and intricate handicrafts are for sale. Afterward, visit the Church of Santo Tomas. Evening transfer to Panajachel for overnight. Day 2: Lake Atitlan Boat Trip Board a private boat for a scenic trip across Lake Atitlan. Visit two traditional Maya villages that line the shores of the lake and admire views of the nearby volcanoes. Afterward, enjoy free time in Panajachel on your own. Day 3: Panajachel ̶ Antigua Have free time to further explore Panajachel. In the afternoon, transfer to Antigua Colonial City.

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Antigua – Panajachel Private Shuttle Service

5. Antigua – Panajachel Private Shuttle Service

Hire a private shuttle for your travel between Antigua and Panajachel. You’ll be picked up at any local hotel or residence, travel in comfort and safety on this 2.5-hour transfer, and be dropped off at the address you request. Unlike shared shuttles, this service does not have a set schedule, which allows you to set a travel time of your choice. If you’re renting a house, you can ask the driver to stop at a market so you can pick up what you need. You can also stop at a bank to exchange money, or at a restaurant for a meal. Vehicles are supplied by Xocomil Tours, a reliable travel agency operating since 1995, and offering safe and comfortable transfers. All vehicles are recent models and are fully insured. The drivers are all professional and helpful, helping ensure that you enjoy your visit to Guatemala.

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Private Shuttle: Guatemala City - Panajachel

6. Private Shuttle: Guatemala City - Panajachel

Guatemala City to Panajachel: Available in either direction.  Professional driver and private van is the most secure and comfortable method of travel.  Airport, hotel, or residential pick-up and drop-off makes transfers easy and safe.  We are a reliable travel agency operating since 1995, which offers secure and comfortable trips to our clients within and autside the country. Additionally, we provide a wonderful experience of sustainable tourism in Guatemala, preserving the environment, improving a fulfilling experiencie to our tourists and visitors. Safe, reliable and affordable to or from the airport, hotels and destinations in Guatemala. Unlike shared shuttles, this service does not have a set schedule, which allows you to set a time for the collection of your choice. For airport pickups we will need your flight details and our driver will be waiting for you outside arrivals with your name written on a board.  Authorized by INGUAT  Res. No. 815-2012-D06-08-2012

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Lake Atitlan: Boat Trip and Full-Day Tour with Lunch

7. Lake Atitlan: Boat Trip and Full-Day Tour with Lunch

After pick-up by your local guide from Panajachel, make your way to volcanic Lake Atitlan and set off on a boat trip across the peaceful water. Listen as your bilingual guide shares facts about life in the Guatemalan Highlands, and visit the villages of Santiago Atitlan and San Juan La Laguna. Learn about the local Maya culture in these traditional communities, as well as the benefits the textile and coffee farming industries brings to this peaceful region of Guatemala. While in San Juan La Laguna, enjoy a typical lunch at a local restaurant. Then admire the view of the 3 majestic volcanoes nearby; Atitlan, Toliman, and San Pedro.

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From Antigua: 2-Day Chichicastenango & Lake Atitlan Tour

8. From Antigua: 2-Day Chichicastenango & Lake Atitlan Tour

In Chichicastenango, explore the indigenous market and be witness to the incessant exchange of fruits, vegetables and handicrafts between the locals and foreigners. Lake Atitlán was formed when a volcanic caldera depleted its magma. Three stately volcanoes - Atitlan, Tolimán and San Pedro - rise gracefully from its southern shore, their perfect cones reflected in the azure mirror of the lake. Discover weaving made and worn by the Maya-Tzutujil and Cakchiquel women who live around the lake and many of the men also wear traditional, hand-woven clothing. Day 1 – Chichicastenango: - 07:00: Transfer from your hotel in Guatemala City or Antigua to Chichicastenango - 10:00: Arrival to Chichicastenango’s market.  In the center of town you will find the local market where you can buy wood products, ceramics and even gifts that the Mayan priests offer on their prehispanic altars. You can also admire the Church of Santo Tomas which was built by Dominicans and Kichen in 1540 on a Maya altar, which is used even today on the front steps of the church. On the other side, you will find Calvary Church and in the square, you will see a high stick where each year the Palo Volador is presented - 12:30: Transfer from Chichicastenango to Panajachel - 13:30: Have lunch at one of the most exquisite restaurants in Panajachel (own expense) - 14:30:  Free time to relax. Overnight accommodations in Panajachel Accommodations: Posada de Don Rodrigo or similar Day 2 – Lake Atitlan - 08:30: Take a private boat to cross Lake Atitlan and visit Tzutuhil village of Santiago de Atitlán. In this village, you will visit the confraternity of the local saint named Maximon or Ri Laj Mam, visited by different people of different ethnicities who come to ask for health and prosperity in their lives. Transfer back to Panajachel by boat - 13:30: Have lunch in one of the most exquisite restaurants of Panajachel (not included) - 14:30: Visit Santander Street of Panajachel and the handicraft market of this town - 15:30: Transfer back to Guatemala City or Antigua Guatemala

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Los Elementos Adventure Center: Kayak, Swim, and Relax

9. Los Elementos Adventure Center: Kayak, Swim, and Relax

The day begins in Panajachel or Santa Cruz La Laguna, where your guide will meet you at your hotel and bring you to the boat docks along Lake Atitlan. From there, take a boat transfer to the Adventure Center in Santa Cruz, where you'll spend the day with a bilingual guide and plenty enjoy activities, all in line with USA safety standards. Kayak for an hour or so, take a swim in the crystal blue waters, or go for a cliff jump if you dare!   For lunch, enjoy a home-cooked meal by the center's very own chef; you're free to pre-order your meal selections based on your own tastes and preferences. After lunch, hike through the hidden Pumpatin Canyon through the lush local forest to a rock wall, where you'll have to chance to enjoy an invigorating and safe rock climb, with secure top-rope systems (harnesses, ropes, etc.). Climb up to 45 feet (14 meters), before rappelling down.   When you're ready, return to the Adventure Center for more free time to go for a swim, kayak, or just to hang out and relax. You can even try your hand at archery, try out a trampoline, or lie in a hammock and enjoy the splendid views. You can also schedule a professional massage or facial (for an additional charge).   You'll return to your hotel at around 16:00. Just pick your favorite activities and enjoy!

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From Antigua: Lake Atitlán Mountain Biking Adventure

10. From Antigua: Lake Atitlán Mountain Biking Adventure

Get your adrenaline pumping with a mountain biking adventure through the Guatemalan countryside. Meet your guide in Antigua and set out for the 2.5-hour drive to Panajachel, stopping along the way for a coffee and restroom break. Upon arrival in Panajachel, get fitted out for your mountain bike followed by a quick safety briefing before your adventure begins. Start the trail on a downhill country road and ride towards a quiet lake. Follow a route that combines backcountry dirt roads and jeep tracks as well as tight technical singletrack climbs and descents. Enjoy biking through a landscape of rolling pine forests, intermixed with local agricultural plots of corn, beans, and squash. After a couple of hours of riding, take a 2-kilometer climb to a viewpoint located high above Lake Atitlán where you will enjoy a healthy and well-deserved fresh picnic lunch as you admire spectacular views of the lake. After lunch, continue cross-country and downhill on the technical cliff-side trail that traverses some 2000 vertical feet above the lake. Complete your day with a ride on some of Guatemala’s best singletrack, from the rim of the vast caldera down to Santa Catarina Palopó, finishing with an awesome staircase into this lakeside Mayan village. Take some time to recover with a swim or a stroll through the village before heading back to Antigua.

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Frequently asked questions about Panajachel

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What people are saying about Panajachel

Overall rating

3.9 / 5

based on 16 reviews

I like the options they present for trips, and I loved the tours to the towns of Lake Atitlán. Although it would be advisable in each place to give about 2 hours to stay. It is also recommended from the beginning to put the options with the price of different hotels, so that the client can choose from the beginning. And it is also recommended that with the transport the seats of each traveler be reserved, because in the minibuses the small seats are uncomfortable and if you change the minibus, they sit where it is available.

Very neat and accomplished

Everything offered was fulfilled. Comfortable transport. Very friendly in the chosen hotel. Good location and willing to collaborate. The guide in the Lake very attentive to his work. A very pleasant experience. Thank you

It may seem a bit pricey but well worth it. Your guide, Lee, will take you places you would not find on your own. As a Mayan in the know he can explain everything to you. You will not be disappointed

although we came late for the ceremony. the local tour guide was extremely knowledgeable. He showed me some great spots around and its overall history of his people.

Great tour! If you are interested in learning more about mayan culture or how cristianity has merged with local religion you should definitely give it a go.