Discovering the Magic of Lake Atitlán

Lake Atitlán © Pexels/ Isaac cortés

By Raye Mocioiu

From the crystal-clear waters of the lake to the lush, verdant hills surrounding it, Lake Atitlán is a natural wonder that captures the heart and imagination of all who behold it.

For centuries, the Indigenous Mayan people have revered Lake Atitlán as a sacred place of healing and transformation—and it’s not hard to see why. Set amidst the breathtaking Guatemalan Highlands of the Sierra Madre mountain range, Lake Atitlán is a volcanic lake housed in the crater of one of three surrounding volcanoes: Atitlán, Tolimán, and San Pedro, which, together, create a truly breathtaking landscape.

As you approach the shores of Lake Atitlán, it’s hard not to feel like you’ve stumbled upon a secret oasis, a hidden gem that few are lucky enough to discover. Once nominated for one of the 7 New Wonders of the World, Lake Atitlán is considered to be one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. Formed approximately 84,000 years ago by a volcanic eruption, the lake spans 59 feet in length and is 1,118 feet deep—the deepest lake in Central America.

With its scenic beauty and natural significance, it’s no surprise that the lake is also a tourist hotspot. Home to several Indigenous Mayan communities, the region is a hub for tradition and culture. These communities offer a glimpse into the rich history and traditions of the Mayan people, and visitors can explore local markets, temples, and other cultural landmarks.

© Sergio D. Spadavecchia

A cultural and natural icon, Lake Atitlán is Guatemala’s most essential and valuable water resource, providing water for the over 300,000 people living on its shores. But as important and symbolic as this feat of nature is, it is not protected from pollution.

The Amigos De Atitlán, or Friends of the Lake, is a non-profit organization born out of a love for the lake and a need to protect it—both for those who use the waters now and the generations who will use it in the future.

The organization works to educate, research, and ensure its conservation alongside its local people, local and national government authorities, community leadership, and scientists. Alongside a program that provides environmental education to youth, the future keepers of the lake, the Amigos De Atitlán also runs a recycling program that seeks to reduce contamination of the lake, as well as a reforestation campaign that focuses on planting high-yield species in areas affected by forest fires.

Among the organization’s many partners is the Hotel La Riviera de Atitlán—the only high-rise building in the entire region, offering unique views of the lake that can’t be found anywhere else. Every room comes equipped with stunning, one-of-a-kind views of the surrounding nature.

During your stay, enjoy all of the recreational activities the region offers, like hiking, kayaking, swimming, and fishing. The various hiking trails around the lake offer breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and the lake itself. Or take a Tuk-Tuk, a three-wheeled taxi, and visit the famous Santander Street, where you can enjoy local restaurants, markets, bars, and nightclubs.

With its otherworldly beauty, rich cultural heritage, and endless opportunities for adventure, Lake Atitlán is a destination that will stay with you long after you’ve left its shores.

Related Stories

Get your free copy of Global Heroes, jam-packed with positive news, straight in your inbox.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Global Heroes Podcast


Subscribe to our Newsletter and Access all issues of Global Heroes News straight in your inbox. 100% free, no purchase necessary, for life. Uplifting stories, highlighting the inspirational efforts of everyday people, celebrities, and organizations, who are diligently working together towards practical solutions to global problems.