Guatemala's South

SANTA CRUZ

See rating for Lago Atitlan area at Panajachel



Description :
The 'exclusive' isolated place by the lake

Comments : Fairly more expensive than the other places, few backpackers are staying there, except divers ! It is however worth a visit !

What to do ? Walk the beautiful gardens of the hotels / Walk up to the village (little path with stoned steps before La Casa Rosa Hotel, after the Pepsi Store, better than the long winding road) for a nice village atmosphere with an 18th century church and a great panorama / Say 'Hola' to kids / Watch girls weaving or washing / Learn how to dive at the only PADI Center by the lake (OpenWater for $160, one dive $25)

What you may not like ? The cost / The hilly village / The lack of market / The lack of telephone / The lack of electricity in some hotels / The lack of local atmosphere by the pier / Being hit by a boat while swimming (three accidents recently and two people killed)

How long ? As long as it takes to visit or relax

Where to stay ? The pier accommodates 4 gringos places, from left to right :

  • Arca de Noe (cellphone : 3064352, thearca@yahoo.com) / Managed by Mark & Stephanie / Solar electricity & Sauna / Rooms 60(1), 100(2), w. shower 140 & 160, bungalow 195 & 210 / Dinner Q65 / Go there for the electricity, nice atmosphere and free sauna. 
  • Iguana Perdida Hotel (7622646, santacruz@guate.net) / Managed by Mike & Deedle / Dorm (8) 22, Dorm (4) 25, Room 42-48(1) or 64-70, bungalow 70(1) or 94(2) / No electricity / Dive shop & sauna / Dinner Q30 / Go there for the cheapest prices by the pier and the community atmosphere, at least if you are a diver ! / What you may not like : rather expensive for what you get...
  • La Casa Rosa (4161251, la_casa_rosa@hotmail.com) / Dorm (4) 40, Rooms 90(1) or 130 (2), w. shower 120(1) or 150 (2) / No electricity / Sauna / Restaurant / Go there for the lovely & big garden. 
  • The latest hotel, Villa Sumaya (810-7199 and 617-1209), is a bit more remote and even more expensive but the garden may be worth a look. It is managed by a French guy, a former tourist guide, who has been leaving in Guatemala for 12 years. 
  • There is at least one option in the village : Hospedaje Hernandez, at the end of the path up / Go there to get a bit of local atmosphere, enjoy the great view and learn about the price (closed when I was there). This should be the cheapest option. 

Where to eat ? If not eating with everybody at the hotel, try your luck up the village. 

Leaving ? Regular boats to Panajachel (Q10) and San Pedro (Q10) via the other villages. Walking the 2 hours great trail to San Marcos is another option. 

The walk to San Marcos : SSSS / Mostly left / Free sweat / 2-3 hours. 
I reached Santa Cruz at 8:45 but, having to visit the hotels and walk the village a bit, I reached the trail and its yellow signs at 10:30 only. Too late and too hot but I had fortunately not forgotten my solar cream nor water... 
I reached Jaibalito at 10:50 and visited the nice hotel & restaurant Vulcano Lodge (vulcanolodge@hotmail.com) where rooms w. shower cost 65(1) or 95(2). Head there if you are looking for relative isolation. 
Crossing a tiny dry river and climbing a bit, you will find the trail again. No more yellow marks but the same superb panorama and the smell of pine trees as an extra ! 
I reached Tzumana an hour later. After crossing the village, the path turns into a rocky road that offer slightly less perspectives, thanks to a stone wall protecting a property. I reached the church of San Marcos half an hour later. 

 << Discover the walk scenery


See also the trip from San Pedro