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Panajachel
Lake Atitlan
Guatemala


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Lake Atitlan and the Mayan Highlands


Of all Guatemala's natural attractions, perhaps the most beautiful is the volcanic caldera of Lake Atitlan (Lago de Atitlán) and its unforgettable highland setting that has seduced travelers for centuries. Its various bays and inlets give the lake an irregular shape, but it measures about 19 km (12 miles) long, 12 km (7.5 miles) at its widest point and over 300 meters (1,000-ft) deep. Lake Atitlan is known as the most beautiful lake in the world.

Lake Atitlán is transcended by three towering volcanoes, Volcan San Pedro, Volcan Toliman and Volcan Atitlán. In addition, there are a dozen or so lakeshore villages and towns around the Lake. The Mayans are known for their friendliness and are welcoming of strangers. Some are Kaqchikel, some Tz'utujil and they all speak different dialects. So the lake villagers have been accustomed to dealing with strangers who don't speak their language, long before visitors began arriving on holiday.

Panajachel is in the mayan highlands and is an 800 year old village of about 14,000, mostly Kaqchikel Mayans and some foreigners. Panajachel is packed with hotels, restaurants, lively nightspots with souvenir shops and stalls lining the main street. Of all the lakeside villages, Panajachel is the place where most head to first and has become a center for the tourist trade, providing a base for visitors crossing the Lake Atitlan to visit the other villages.

Lakeside Pana's appeal is all about its position overlooking the lake and volcanoes and its laid-back atmosphere. Transport connections are superb, with regular buses and shuttles and boats linking Panajachel with the other lakeside towns & villages around Lake Atitlan.

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