Getting there & away
Panajachel’s main bus stop is at the junction of Calle Santander and Calle Principal, across from the Banco Agromercantil. The taxi and shuttle bus booth nearby on Calle Principal can usually give you the general picture on bus schedules, but this is not an exact science. Transportes Rébuli, running buses to Guatemala City, has an office further down Calle Principal, but its buses still usually depart from the Principal/Santander corner. Departures – approximately and subject to change – are as follows:
Antigua A direct Pullman bus (US$5, 2½ hours, 146km) departs from the Rébuli office at 10:45am Monday to Saturday. Or take a Guatemala City bus and change at Chimaltenango.
Chichicastenango About eight buses (US$1.50, 1½ hours, 37km) depart 7am to 4pm daily. Or take any bus heading to Los Encuentros and change buses there.
Ciudad Tecún Umán (Mexican border) By the Pacific route (210km), take a bus to Cocales and change there; by the highland route (210km), take a bus to Quetzaltenango and change there.
Cocales (Carr al Pacífico) Eight buses (US$1, 2½ hours, 70km) depart 6:30am to 2:30pm daily.
Guatemala City Transportes Rébuli (US$2.50, 3½ hours, 150km) departs 10 times daily from 5am to 2:30pm. Or take a bus to Los Encuentros and change there.
Huehuetenango Take a bus to Los Encuentros (3½ hours, 140km) and wait there for a bus bound for Huehue or La Mesilla. Or catch a bus heading to Quetzaltenango, alight at Cuatro Caminos and change buses there. There are buses at least hourly from these junctions.
La Mesilla (Mexican border; 6 hours; 225km; see Huehue).
Quetzaltenango Six buses (US$2; 2½ hours; 90km) depart from 5am to 4pm daily. Or take a bus to Los Encuentros and change there.
San Lucas Tolimán There’s one bus at 4pm (US$1.20, 1½ hours, 28km) or you can take any bus heading for Cocales, get off at the San Lucas turnoff and walk about 1km into town.
Santa Catarina Palopó Daily buses (US$0.80, 20 minutes, 4km). Or get a pickup at the corner of Calles Real and El Amate.
Maco (7762 0883; Calle Santander) rents motorbikes for around US$8/40 per one/24 hours.
Passenger boats for Santiago Atitlán depart from the Playa Pública (public beach) at the foot of Calle del Balneario. All other departures leave from the dock at the foot of Calle del Embarcadero. The big, slow ferries are generally only used for the Santiago run, with fast, frequent lanchas (small motorboats) going elsewhere. Boats stop running around 4:30pm.
One-way passage anywhere on Lago de Atitlán costs US$1.30, but prepare to get done like a sucker. Generally, foreigners end up paying around US$2.50. You can hold out for the local fare, but you may have to let a few boats go by. One way to keep the cost down is to ignore all middlemen (or boys, as the case may be) and negotiate the fare directly with the captain.
Another route goes counterclockwise around the lake, stopping in Santa Cruz La Laguna (15 minutes), Jaibalito, Tzununá, San Marcos La Laguna (30 minutes), San Juan La Laguna and San Pedro La Laguna (40 minutes). After departing Panajachel from the Calle del Balneario dock, the boats stop at another dock at the foot of Calle del Embarcadero before heading out (or vice versa, when arriving at Panajachel).
Lanchas are also available for private hire from the Playa Pública or Embarcadero Tzanjuyú: expect to pay around US$23 to San Pedro.
To the villages along the lake’s eastern shore, there are no public boat services. A privately hired lancha from the Playa Pública costs around US$13 to Santa Catarina Palopó, US$23 to San Antonio Palopó and US$40 to San Lucas Tolimán. It’s better to go by bus or pickup.