A giant lake filled volcano with small villages

Trip Start Feb 19, 2010
Trip End Jan 31, 2012

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Where I stayed
hotel masion la laguna

Flag of Guatemala  , Western Highlands,
Friday, October 29, 2010

Day 1
Had planned to catch a chicken bus to Panajachel but talked to Gilles in the morning and found that he had managed to get a ride with a guy from the states who was driving his campervan around Central America. Cheaper to live down here on the pension than in the state sI guess.

On the way out of town we unfortunately ran into some unexpected road closures. That is there was a road bike race of some sort. Tour Guatemala I guess. Had to wait for it to finish though ended up driving on the track at one point and told to quickly move on. After 30min road was opened again and we were on our way.

Travelling by camper van was definately more comfortable than the chicken bus would have been. Also gave me a chance to take out my camera and take some photos without worrying about people watching me. Just prior to reaching Panajachel we pulled into a gas station and were told that a mud slide had closed the road up ahead. Ended up deciding to head back a bit and take the road to Santiago since this was where Donald (camper van guy) wanted to end up. His original plan was to go to Panajachel and then ferry it but this was no longer possible. This was fine with both me and Gilles since we had both planned on catching a ferry anyway.

Lots of nice mountain views along the whole way and down towards the lake. Upon getting to San Pedro gave Donald some petrol money and went to find my hotel. Day was a bit cloudy and so decided to put off going up Volcan San Pedro by a day. Besides, My body aches (I think more from the yoga than hiking) so a days rest will do me some good.

Spent the rest of the day wandering around town and checked it out. Lots of people in traditional dress though it seems that men are less so inclined. Nice old town with some interesting streets and as always, interesting people wandering around them. In general the people I see seem content for the most part which compared to other places Ive been seems starnge

Finished it off with dinner (or rather some nachos with a nice guatemali dip) at a restuarant by the lake shore. Nice views of the lake, even if a bit cloudy.

Day 2
Nice clear morning though it go cloudier as the day progressed. Would of been a good day for the hike.

Had considered heading to Panajachel to look into doing a dive but decided against spending the day cruising in a boat or waiting for one to show up. In the end caught a boat to the nearby town of Santiago La Laguna. The ride across the lake had nice views of Volcan San Pedro and the rest of the lake which wasnt visible from San Pedro. Paid Q20 (tourist price) though I saw other paying Q8. Didnt know how many boats would be heading back and didnt want to be stranded in Santiago. In the end though I should have just paid Q10 and seen what would happen. Never like the idea of tourist Vs local prices for public services.

Could see tha this was a torist spot since the main strip from the boat dock was covered in souvineer shops. Decided to wander the town a bit and headed up hill where I came across a small street market where I wanted to take some photos but had to many people around to do it.

Kept wandering up hill til I got to a Junction. Went left first then headed back and went right. Thankfully was high enough above the city to get some nice views of the town, lake and volcanos. On my way down the right hand path I ended up being attacked. Not by robbers but by bees. Happy I am not alergic to them since over a dozen bees were flying around my head and arms and I ended up getting stung over half a dozen times. Not fun. Tried to keep brushing them away but they got tanggled in my hair and clung to my skinn

Never known bees to be that agressive so Im wondering what set them off. Had a few welts to start with which basically flattened and expanded to give me a swollen spot near the sting. All were Ok except the one by my eye. The area under the eye puffed up and it felt a bit like a black eye. Also felt as if I had a constant sneer.

Headed back to the dock to get a boat and once again the captain wanted Q20. I know the local price was Q8 and I said Q10. He said Q15 and I walked away. Not sure why but he decided to settle for Q10 and said it was a special for just me. Guess he wanted the passanger. Also had me pay which I think was so that others wouldnt see I had gotten a better deal than them.

Had to wait an hour so ended up walking into a small shop that was full of people. found out later that it was a group of mexican tourist. Ended up having a nice beef and vegtable soup.

After heading back into town decided on going for a walk and getting a better view of the town so headed down the road towards San Juan. While it would be nice to hike around the lake there have been a number of cases of hikers getting robbed so I decided I wouldnt wander to far but even so want to see the different view from the trail.

After getting back booked my hike and then not much else.

Day 3
Lots more clouds today but thankfully cleared up occasionally near the top of San Pedro volcan.

Another 6am start to hike up another volcano Had a group of 6 people and I must be aclimatising since I didnt seem to struggle as much as the others in the group. One couple doing the walk had been on the road almost 2 years and still had 4-5 months left of travelling.
Nice walk through forest, coffee plants and corn fields. Took about 3hr to get to the top and about 1hr up there. Was cold but no where near as cold as when I had been up this high at dawn.

At the top tried to keep following the rim of the volvano around but only got about 30m before it started going down, up, down, up through shrub. Nice views of the lake and the forest within the volcano cone when the clouds cleared. From the top could see the water vapour condensing and turning to cloud before being blown on.

As always down in about 2 thirds the time it took to get up. After the hike headed back into town and had some lunch. Spent a bit of time wandering around town but not really much to do.

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