Introducing Lago de Atitlán
Guatemala’s most dramatic region – the highlands – stretch from Antigua to the Mexican border northwest of Huehuetenango. Here the verdant hills sport emerald green grass, cornfields and towering stands of pine, and every town and village has a story.
The traditional values and customs of Guatemala’s indigenous peoples are strongest in the highlands. Maya dialects are the first language, Spanish a distant second. The age-old culture based on maize (from which the Maya believe that humans were created) is still alive; a sturdy cottage set in the midst of a thriving milpa (cornfield) is a common sight. And on every road you’ll see men, women and children carrying burdens of leña (firewood), to be used for heating and cooking.
The poster child for Guatemala’s natural beauty, the volcano-ringed Lago de Atitlán has been attracting tourists for decades. Surrounded by small villages, the lake deals with its popularity well. The only place that feels really played out is Panajachel – the other villages maintain a quiet air, while offering a reasonable degree of comfort. This area was particularly badly hit by Hurricane Stan.