Santa Cruz La Laguna is a lakeside Mayan village in western Guatemala nestled in the steep mountains of the Sierra Madre. Offering a true escape from the sometimes manic world, Santa Cruz La Laguna can only be reached by boat or walking track. Lacking a telephone system and constant electricity, the village really does offer that sometimes needed break from modern life.
Santa Cruz La Laguna sits at the side of Lake Atitlán, which is a high altitude, freshwater caldera lake. The lake’s backdrop of volcanoes provides excellent scenery and views.The mountain range itself runs from Mexico, down through Guatemala, and into El Salvador and Honduras.
The caldera that holds Lake Atitlán formed around 84,000 years ago, when the volcano emptied a large underground magma chamber once supporting the earth above. When this was emptied, the land collapsed to fill the cavity creating the caldera and later the lake.
Really getting you back in time, many of the locals of Santa Cruz La Laguna still wear traditional Mayan clothes and managed to hold onto their culture despite Spanish influence.
The Mayan people settled on the lake’s edges around 1000 BC and until the 1950s would fish the lake for crab and fish species to fill a portion of their diet. However, as a way to increase the region’s attraction to tourists, in the 1950s the highly predatory large-mouth bass was introduced to attract international anglers. Unfortunately, this introduction subsequently led to extinctions of local fish species and at least one endemic bird. Although the fish may have gone, the locals still farm corn and fruit as they have for hundreds of years.
Similarly to Santa Cruz La Laguna, many of the lake’s villages retain a traditional Mayan culture. Tourism has become very important to some lake communities, most notably Panajachel, which you can visit from Santa Cruz La Laguna via water taxi. Here you can enjoy many different quaint restaurants that provide beautiful views of Lake Atitlan and the volcanoes.
Lake Atitlán is Central America’s deepest lake and was the subject of many moments of reflection from famous explorers and travel writers. The explorer and naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, who named many of the animals in the Americas, called Lake Atitlán the most beautiful lake in the world. A title echoed by many visitors since.
To fully enjoy this wonderful lake in comfort, the surrounding region, and various activities on offer, we recommend a stay at the Laguna Lodge and Nature Reserve.
Laguna Lodge provides a relaxing and luxurious lodge overlooking Lake Atitlán where you can enjoy delicious cuisine, comfortable surroundings, and tours in the surrounding area. Enjoy horse riding, hiking trails, mountain biking, and boating around the lake or to local villages.
Nestled in its own lakeshore nature reserve, the Laguna Lodge provides luxurious comfort, an excellent restaurant, and relaxing spa. This is a fantastic boutique hotel to make the most of views over the lake’s azure water and the trio of volcanoes.
In addition to relaxation, you can also stay active. The Laguna Lodge reserve features 100 acres of safe walking trails leading to escarpments and high altitude tropical dry forest. Enjoy walks to some of the last remaining tracts of primary forest on the lake and incredible views from 1,963m (6,440ft) above sea level. The diversity of trails means every fitness level can enjoy the lake’s forests.
Not just a good place to keep active or relax, this is also a great place for nature lovers and birdwatchers. Enjoy many different birds, including many species found nowhere else on Earth.
When you return to the lodge after daytime activities, you can enjoy Zotz, the Laguna Lodge’s international lakeside restaurant. Here you can find fine and environmentally responsible cuisine prepared by an award winning team of culinary experts. Fresh organic vegetables, greens, herbs and eggs are harvested daily from the lodge gardens or provided by local farmers.
At Laguna Lodge, you can take a dip in the hot river rock spa pool or enjoy a body treatment in the Hummingbird Spa. The spa offers manicures and pedicures and a variety of different massages and treatments. In addition to the restaurant, pool, mini gym, and spa, you can also relax at the lodge’s Lava Bar to watch the sunset turn to a star studded night while sipping on a cocktail.