Aside from the famous book, which has since been turned into a movie as well, the natural beauty of Lake Atitlan is unparalleled , and hiking around Lake Atitlan is the best way to see it . There are seven towns on the outskirts of the lake that have an abundance of culture to offer.
There are also three volcanoes that surround the lake and hiking at least one is recommended if you visit the lake. San Pedro is one of the volcanoes and can be hiked in anywhere from 2.5 to 5 hours. San Pedro is the most popular hike, but it can be challenging for some. A slightly easier hike is Indian Nose, or La Nariz, which also offers incredible views, similar to San Pedro.
The easiest hike, but perhaps least rewarding in terms of view, is the highly active volcano Pacaya. Pacaya, due to its activity, is closed at the top, so you won’t be able to go all the way up, but you might see more signs of volcanism, such as old lava beds, although it’s no guarantee. To get to these hikes you can take the chicken bus, a form of public transport in Guatemala, or you can take the small tuk tuks for hire, which is how many people recommend getting around.
Hiking around Lake Atitlan
is not as simple as one might think
Keep in mind that many of the hikes require security of some sort, at minimum a tour guide. Many hikes have local security watching at the beginning of the hikes, and they can be a hassle to tourists trying to hike alone, so get a guide. There are some isolated incidents of natives harassing DIY hikers and even some horror stories of hikers being killed. It’s not a common enough problem to keep you from hiking the volcanoes, but be smart about not hiking alone.
Hiking around Lake Atitlan was one of the best experiences I’ve had in Guatemala !