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The 24 Best Lake Atitlan Hikes (2024 update)

The best thing about spending extended periods of time on beautiful Lake Atitlan is the scenery, although you don’t necessarily need months to enjoy the main highlights. A stunning crater lake surrounded hills and volcanoes that looks amazing from every angle. The second-best thing about it, however, are all the amazing Lake Atitlan hikes. There is great hiking on Lake Atitlan, with trails scattered along ridges all the way around, offering unique combinations of views, village life and rural charm.

View from Mirador Montenegro on one of the best Lake Atitlan hikes
View from the Flower Route

Hiking is one of the best things to do on Lake Atitlan partially because the lake sits at almost 1,600 metres above sea level and never gets as hot as most of Central America. Of course, this also means it may take a bit of time for your body to get used to the altitude.

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Unfortunately – or maybe fortunately, if you relish the opportunity to avoid the crowds – trails in Guatemala are notoriously difficult to hike independently. Trail markings are non-existent, many pass confusingly through farmer’s fields and small villages and a few of them have a disappointing reputation for robberies.

However, with the helpful descriptions, some GPS assistance and the occasional guide, there is no reason you can’t tackle many of these great Lake Atitlan hikes during your visit to this iconic Central American destination.

Group on one of the best Lake Atitlan hikes

Map of Lake Atitlan Trails

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The 24 Best Lake Atitlan Hikes

Since we always stay on the north side of the lake at Pasaj-Cap Rentals (between San Marcos and Tzununá), many of the hikes are shown starting from there. The estimated hiking time includes short breaks but excludes any transportation to or from the trail – keep in mind, this will vary considerably depending on your personal fitness and speed.

Any GPS links are to Wikiloc files. Wikiloc is a hiking app that is free to join and features hiking trails all over the world. Once you have the app installed and an account set up, when using your phone just click on the link in a browser (i.e. Chrome, Safari) and it should automatically open in the Wikiloc app.

If you prefer a different trail app (All Trails and Maps.me are two popular ones) it is possible to download the actual GPX file out of Wikiloc. From there you should be able to import it into your app of choice.

You can follow the individual links in each description to the specific Wikiloc files or you can browse the entire list at:

https://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/user.do?id=2996888&event=favorites&listId=67888

Happy trails!

The 3 Most Popular Lake Atitlan Hikes

1. The Mayan Trail

Distance: 10km

Elevation Gain: 550m

Time: 2.5-3 hrs

Difficulty – Moderate

Officially this hike goes between Santa Cruz and San Marcos, although the Wikiloc map only shows the stretch from Tzununá to Santa Cruz. This is by far the most scenic section, although if you want to start (or finish) in San Marcos, you simply add 3km (45min) on the dirt road between the two villages (which barely qualifies to be called that).

When it comes to hiking on Lake Atitlan, this is by far the most popular independent hike on the lake (most people use a guide to climb Volcán San Pedro), and for good reason. Sometimes also called the Mayan Ridge Hike, after you pass Lomas de Tzununá (the hotel high up on the hill) it is all single-track along a ridge high above the lake with outstanding views the entire way.

Unlike many of the other trails, it does not involve any particularly slippery sections, although there are a couple of steep spots. It is the perfect length and difficulty for a nice morning hike with lots of good lunch choices waiting at either end. Many people shorten it and stop in Jaibalito specifically to eat at Hans’ Place (officially called Posada Jaibalito), reducing the total by 2km and 30 minutes.

Robberies, unfortunately, do take place on this trail so if at all possible you should hike in a group (even 3 or 4 should be enough) and avoid carrying valuables. Sundays, in particular, have a bad reputation (young guys off work and drinking? It’s a theory).

Having said that, however, we do this hike at least once a week and have never had any problems personally. Usually we are in a group, but I would say that Laynni and I have done it alone at least 50 times without incident, and I often jog it alone as well.

So don’t be scared off, just be smart, and don’t carry a bunch of stuff that makes you look like a target. This is the one hike on Lake Atitlan that every able-bodied walker should try.

https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/santa-cruz-tzununa-lake-atitlan-22075066

2. Indian Nose / Rostro Maya

Distance: 6km

Elevation Gain: 950m

Time: 3-4 hrs

Difficulty: Strenuous

Some people find the name “Indian Nose” (in reference to the shape of the hill) offensive but since that is still the term most commonly used to describe it (by tourists and Mayans alike) it should be mentioned. Rostro Maya means “Mayan Face”, which doesn’t really avoid the whole nose shape comparison but does avoid the word “Indian”, I suppose.

Anyway, it is a very popular hike out of San Juan, particularly for sunrise. While it doesn’t finish as high as Volcán San Pedro and doesn’t take nearly as long (roughly 2 hrs up, 1 hr down), I personally found it a bit harder because it is more exposed to the sun, whereas San Pedro is mainly in shade. Of course, this would not be as much of an issue if you hike up very early in the morning. Our 7:30 am was (shockingly!) much easier than the time I went up at 10 am.

It costs 30Q for entrance to the park and there is a very popular (and colourful) viewpoint about 15 minutes into the hike. If you don’t take a guide you will probably get stopped again later and asked for additional fees by enterprising farmers along the way. The first mirador is about halfway to the nariz and was free (or at least unguarded). Then the next mirador is just off the trail after a low saddle where we “coincidentally” ran into a farmer just as we arrived who said it was 25Q to enjoy that one. Of course, there are a number of spots along the trail before this with fantastic views as well so it’s very possible to simply hike up to the saddle (1.5 hrs) and back down (1 hr or less) and only pay the initial 30Q.

https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/rostro-maya-san-juan-la-laguna-25197409

It is also possible to book a guided sunrise tour where you get a ride to near the top, then just have a short walk up to the viewpoint.

The Nariz del Rostro Maya Sunrise Tour

3. Volcán San Pedro

Distance: 9.5km

Elevation Gain: 1,200m

Time: 4-5 hrs

Difficulty: Very Strenuous

A rite of passage for many of the backpackers that come to San Pedro, it is one of the most accessible volcanoes in Guatemala. As with most volcanoes, it involves a long, steady climb followed by the same route back down, so hiking times will vary considerably depending on your fitness. I know a guy who got to the top in an hour and a half and others who struggled up for over 5 hours. 3 hrs up and 2 hrs down is the typical conservative estimate, however.

The hike is in a protected park with an entrance fee of 100q. While this is a bit pricey, it does include a guide (although you can opt to go alone if you or someone with you already knows the trail). Bear in mind that most of the hike is in the trees so you only get views at a mirador about an hour in, then at the top. So it is best to start as early as possible (it usually opens at 8am) because there are usually fewer clouds in the morning.

I have done it three times. Twice we enjoyed amazing views from the top but once we were completely shrouded in and couldn’t see a thing. Also, like the San Marcos-Santa Cruz hike, there have been reports of robberies in the past. Having a guide should take care of that problem but it is worth asking around to find out the current situation.

https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/volcan-san-pedro-lake-atitlan-23017085

7 Easy Lake Atitlan Hikes

4. Ruta La Finca

Woman walking on rocky beach with volcanoes in the background
The Ruta la Finca runs along the foothills of Volcan San Pedro to a small black sand beach

Distance: 7 km (return)

Elevation Gain: 100m

Time: 2 hrs

Difficulty: Easy

This easy walk just outside San Pedro is a popular one with both locals and backpackers, mainly because it ends at a beach (which are few and far between on Lake Atitlan). Yes, it is a black sand beach, and it’s not big, or impressive, but there is sand, swimming and some nice views of Atitlan and Toliman.

Heading southeast out of San Pedro, you just follow the “Finca road” – on pavement for 1 km, then dirt for 1 km, then the main trail starts behind a basketball court and then leads along the foothills of the volcano. It is pretty obvious until you reach a fork in the road. Take the one heading toward the water and follow it as you pass an abandoned coffee farm, then go very close past several houses, then you take the dirt path leading down to the beach once it comes into view.

You can take a tuk-tuk to the trailhead (15Q) which will leave just 1 km (15 min) on the path. Just ask for “La Playa”. Unless you get a phone number, though, you’ll probably have to walk back to town (45 min).

The GPS below is just to the beach and back but it is also possible to continue on. About 15 minutes past the first beach, there is a path that goes steeply down to a longer, rockier second beach. Then, from the south end of that you can scramble over rocks around the corner to a small, secluded third beach. Which, theoretically, is connected by path to the houses and yoga retreat farther on, directly across from Santiago, although that is a hike for another day. We’ll keep you posted.

We went from the Pana dock along the the low route through San Pedro on the way out, then going up the hill through the market on the way back just to show the two different options. If you are only visiting San Pedro on a day trip it is definitely worth checking out the market and church (despite the steep climb).

https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/playa-la-finca-127903781

5. The Flower Route – Godinez to Santa Catarina Palopo

View of Santa Catarina Palopo on a Lake Atitlan hike
Santa Catarina Palopo

Distance: 6 km

Elevation gain: minimal

Time: 2 hrs

Difficulty: Easy

A relatively recent addition to the list, this easy but spectacular downhill Lake Atitlan hike starts at the pleasant but fairly unknown village of Godinez. From there it is almost all downhill to the lake without ever getting particularly steep as you cut diagonally across the slope.

We call it the Flower Route because as you get close to Santa Catarina Palopo (possibly the most picturesque village on Lake Atitlan) you pass through sets of farm terraces, some of which are filled with colourful, photogenic flowers. These are the same flowers you’l see in markets all around the lake.

Even before fantastic Santa Catarina and the wonderful terraces, however, you will enjoy incredible panoramic views of the lake in all its glory. All while barely breaking a sweat. Which is why it has become one of our favourite Lake Atitlan hikes and a steady member of our hiking rotation.

View of Lake Atitlan from Mirador Montenegro

Colectivo minibuses from Panajachel to Godinez (15Q/pp, 30-45 min) can be found on a little side street near the market (just tell the tuk tuk driver you want to go to Godinez – they know the spot). The first 2 km from Godinez follows a main road but it is very quiet and has a few good viewpoints along the way.

Then you reach the stunning Mirador Montenegro and venture onto smaller roads and, eventually, a dirt trail. If you want to shorten the hike you can hire a private shuttle to the mirador (I think we paid 150Q once with a group of 6 but those prices can change by the minute so be ready to haggle).

And if you want to extend the hike further, you can walk the straightforward 4 km from Santa Catarina Palopo to Panajachel, although this road is much busier and not so pleasant on foot. An easier option is to hop in the back of a pickup for 5Q per person.

https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/the-flower-route-godinez-to-santa-catarina-palopo-124348917

6. Cerro Tzankujil

Viewpoint in San Marcos La Laguna

Distance: 1.5 km

Elevation Gain: 100m

Time: 30 min

Difficulty: Easy

A short but scenic heart-pounder just minutes away from all the main tourist action of San Marcos. Cerro Tzankujil Protected Area is about 200m west of the main dock. Entrance is 15Q for Guatemalans and 20Q for foreign tourists.

Village of San Marcos la Laguna from the mirador
Views over San Marcos are actually better than the volcano views from the top

The park features a nice, rocky trail all the way around the hill along the water where you’ll find several viewpoints, rest areas and terraces, some of which you can leap off into the lake. Then, on either side, you can follow the trail up the hill to a set of ancient Mayan altars and, eventually, the summit, with impressive views of the town and western bay.

Unfortunately, views across the lake to the volcanoes are mostly impeded by trees so you can actually get better shots of these from the bottom.

7. Parque Chuiraxamolo to San Juan

Distance: 15km

Elevation Gain: 350m

Time: 4-5 hrs

Difficulty: Moderate (Easy if you stop in Santa Clara)

On this hike we finally head into the park itself (20q each). They have done a lot of work in the park in recent years, adding several picnic areas, miradores and even ziplines and a climbing wall. This hike passes all of that stuff then continues gently downhill into the scenic, forested hills between the park and Santa Clara.

Up until Santa Clara (2 hrs) it is a nice, very easy starter hike that we often do with people recently arrived at the lake that haven’t acclimatized to the altitude yet. Stopping here and taking transportation down is the common choice for those who want to avoid the long descent into San Juan and it reduces the numbers to 8km / 150m / 2 hrs.

Continuing on from Santa Clara it is still relatively easy, although there are a couple of hills to contend with while circling around behind the Indian Nose / Rostro Maya summit to the fantastic ridge above San Juan, with its panoramic views and interesting fields. Shortly after the ridge the trail starts downhill, with a solid hour’s descent into the great village of San Juan, many tourists’ favourite destination on the lake.

If you just do the part from Santa Clara you are looking at roughly 7km / 200m / 2 hrs.

https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/parque-chuiramoxolo-san-juan-la-laguna-lake-atitlan-22528156#wp-22528163

8. Santa Clara to Panyevar Ridge Hike

Distance: 7km

Elevation Gain: 200m

Time: 2-3 hrs

Difficulty: Easy

This is another alternative for those with knee issues or if you simply don’t like hiking downhill for extended periods. You get to enjoy the same ridge views and moderate ups and downs of the “long ridge hike” but then skip the downhill by staying on the dirt road to the little village of Panyevar. From there you can catch a bus or minibus back to Santa Clara and beyond.

https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/santa-clara-la-laguna-panyevar-lake-atitlan-22668319

9. San Marcos to San Pedro

Distance: 10km

Elevation Gain: 200m

Time: 2-3 hrs

Difficulty: Easy

For a complete change of pace, this road walk takes you all the way around the end of the lake from San Marcos, through San Pablo and San Juan, and up to the market in San Pedro. We usually do this hike every Saturday morning to hit the market and have brunch/lunch in San Pedro.

An easy walk, and not as dusty as it was before they built the new (paved) road. The downside is that traffic moves faster now. It definitely doesn’t compare to the higher trails on this list for scenery (although there are still a couple of nice viewpoints) but you do get an interesting look at the different villages. The recording once again starts at Pasaj-Cap so from San Marcos you can reduce the overall time by about 15 minutes.

https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/pasajcap-san-pedro-la-laguna-32609003

10. Concepcion – Panajachel

Green valley leading to a lake

Distance: 9 km

Elevation Loss: 460m

Time: 2 hrs

Difficulty: Easy

A nice, easy choice near Panajachel, this pleasant stroll follows a scenic valley from the fascinating village of Concepcion to the market in Pana. There is a fairly famous old church in Concepcion, then on the trail you pass some interesting farms, nice river scenery and, unfortunately, a few unsightly construction sites.

But the hike is entirely downhill and pretty easy to follow (just don’t leave the valley). The only real downside is the effort involved getting to Concepcion. Despite being just a 9 km walk, you will need to take a bus or minibus up to Solola, then switch to a second bus (or hire private transportation) to get to Concepcion.

https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/concepcion-pana-125052512

7 Challenging Lake Atitlan Hikes

11. Tzununá Ridge Hike

Distance: 10.5km

Elevation Gain: 1,200m

Time: 4-5 hrs

Difficulty: Very Strenuous

This is the hardest hike you can do on the north side (without combining multiple trails). It starts out the same as #19, climbing up out of Tzununá to the low ridge separating Tzununá from San Marcos but, instead of heading down to San Marcos, you now continue even farther up. You climb the ridge all the way up to the top of the valley overlooking Tzununá (and the entire lake), an awesome viewpoint we have always referred to as the “picnic area” (it will come up in later hikes as well).

The second part of the ascent is particularly difficult and involves some scrambling and climbing, although nothing that requires equipment, just extra effort and caution. Then you circle around and return down the same path through small villages that you would have gone up on the Pajomil hike (#15).

All in all, a very difficult hike but it provides at least 4 different unique views, making it potentially the most scenic hike on this list outside the volcanoes. Quiet, challenging and scenic – this is definitely one of the best hikes on Lake Atitlan.

https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/tzununa-ridge-hike-lake-atitlan-22342806

12. Volcán Atitlán

Distance: 12.5km

Elevation Gain: 1,600m

Time: 5-6 hrs

Difficulty: Very Strenuous

Here’s the one for those who really want to challenge themselves. The only time I did this was about a week after arriving, not acclimatized to the altitude and not in optimal shape, and I found it very difficult. Don’t take it lightly, but it should still be accessible for anyone with decent fitness as long as you pace yourself.

Guides are usually required to climb Atitlán, and you’ll probably want one anyway as the trail isn’t well marked and there have also been reports of individual trekkers being robbed here. You will want to spend the night in Santiago Atitlán so that you can get a very early start, and make sure to pack plenty of snacks and water.

Book a guided Volcan Atitlan hike

When you reach the top, however, the views are incredible. You have a similar panoramic look at the lake as from San Pedro but get the added bonus of expansive views toward Antigua where, on a clear day, you can spot several more volcanoes.

https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/volcan-atitlan-22075195

For a complete description of our hike, check out Climbing Volcan Atitlan

13. Volcán Tolimán

Two volcanoes beside a lake
Volcan Toliman with Atitlan looming in the background

Distance: 16 km

Elevation Gain: 1,600m

Time: 7-8 hours

Difficulty: Very Strenuous

While many people summit Volcán San Pedro and fit, motivated hikers make it their mission to get to the top of Volcán Atitlán, very few people ever tackle the unique peak atop Volcán Tolimán (and I’m still not one of them). It is a long, tough hike that should be done with a guide. Many people actually choose to spend a night at the top – breaking up the hike and enjoying sunrise and sunset from the peak.

It is unique at the top because of its twin peaks on either side of a 200-metre crater. The way up is mostly shrouded in forest, which means not much in the way of views but, on the bright side, it means the bulk of the climbing will take place in the shade. It is possible to spot quetzales on the trail up to the summit of Toliman volcano, although you’ll probably have to rely on your guide for that, and there is also a wild turkey known as the “pavo de cacho” that can usually be seen in the crater at the top.

So it has some interesting bits, but unfortunately the trees don’t fully give way at the top either so you never get the clear, open views you enjoy from Atitlan or San Pedro, making Toliman more of a “complete the trio” hike than one to reach an amazing viewpoint.

14. Tzununá to Chuitzanchaj – Jaibalito Loop – High Route

Distance: 6.5km

Elevation Gain: 650m

Time: 2-3 hrs

Difficulty: Strenuous

This involves a steep, difficult climb out of Tzununá with great views, a scenic cemetery and passes through the traditional village of Chuitzanchaj before heading all the way back down to Jaibalito. The figures above are one-way estimates, while the recorded route shows us making it a loop by returning via the middle route from #18.

https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/tzununa-chuitzanchaj-jaibalito-tzununa-lake-atitlan-23015885

15. Tzununá to Pajomil – Chuitzanchaj Loop

Distance: 10km

Elevation Gain: 770m

Time: 4-5 hrs

Difficulty: Strenuous

The climbs just keep increasing as we go along, with this one going straight up the valley behind Tzununá to yet another photogenic ridge before reaching the village of Pajomil. Then it loops around to reach Chuitzanchaj and all the way back down the same steep ridge we climbed up in #14.

https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/san-marcos-pajomil-chuizanchaj-45529073

16. Parque Chuiraxamolo to Tzununá

Distance: 17km

Elevation Gain: 440m

Time: 4.5-5.5 hrs

Difficulty: Strenuous

Now we are into the trails that require transportation. “The Parque”, as it is normally known, features one of the very best viewpoints on the entire lake. Shuttles often stop for photos on their way down from Highway 1. This hike starts at the entrance to the park but for this hike we don’t go in, instead we follow the road farther up for a little while before veering off onto some quiet dirt roads (if you’ve already seen the parque viewpoint you can stay in the minibus to the next village and save 15-20 minutes of road walking).

Eventually you end up on a small, relatively easy trail through the woods (there is one short slippery descent) that takes you to the “picnic area”, the incredible viewpoint at the top of the Tzununá valley mentioned in a couple of the other hikes. This is a much easier way to reach it than by climbing up the ridge, although if you opt to walk down like we do in this version it can be a pretty exhausting descent (the main reason I’ve listed it as “strenuous”). This hike is a strange combination, being very long and with a difficult descent but no extended uphill climbs.

We normally take a tuk-tuk from San Marcos to San Pablo (10q each), then ride in the back of a pickup up the steep switchbacks from San Pablo to Santa Clara (5q each). Then there are minibuses to the park from Santa Clara (5q each) about a block from the main square – they leave from the same place the truck drops you off, or you can just ask around.

https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/parque-chuiraxamolo-tzununa-32484498

17. Santa Lucia Utatlan – Tzununa

Distance: 11.5 km

Elevation Gain: 180m

Elevation Loss: 1,100m

Time: 3.5-4 hrs

Difficulty: Strenuous

The first half of this one follows the same route as the Santa Lucia Utatlan – Tzununa Overlook Village Loop and then goes down to Tzununa just like the Parque Chuiraxamolo – Tzununa hike, only via a different route. After enjoying the phenomenal views from the picnic area, instead of heading inland for a relatively flat walk through local villages, you will start the long journey all the way down into Tzununa.

And, unlike the first Parque – Tzununa route, you will take a shorter, steeper trail down into the valley instead of following the longer, more gradual (and more dusty) road that meanders down along the valley side.

Even taking the more direct route, it is a long slog, especially difficult if your knees act up on extended downhills, but you also get terrific views, interesting villages and get to finish in Tzununa or San Marcos, handy if you happen to be staying around there.

Wikiloc (part 1): https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/santa-lucia-utatlan-xepec-picnic-area-124864435

Wikiloc (part 2): https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/xepec-picnic-area-tzununa-124888563

7 Off the Beaten Path Lake Atitlan Hikes

18. Tzununá to Jaibalito – Middle Route

Distance: 4km

Elevation Gain: 350m

Time: 1-1.5 hrs

Difficulty: Moderate

This is actually a variant of trek #1 so you could easily extend it to Santa Cruz (2km, 30 min) or San Marcos (3km, 45 min). The only difference is that partway through the hike you veer off up the hill to take a higher route. This involves more climbing and a slightly more narrow and more challenging trail, but it gets you completely above the treeline (even better views) and avoids the barking dogs you can sometimes encounter on the main trail (they normally only get really worked up if you have a dog with you). It does involve a short steep, slippery section at either end, though.

The figures above are one-way but the recorded route shows us doing the hike both there and back.

https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/tzununa-jaibalito-return-23062277

19. Tzununá to San Marcos Ridge Crossing

Distance: 5km

Elevation Gain: 450m

Time: 1.5-2 hrs

Difficulty: Strenuous, but short

Here you climb up through the less-trodden upper areas of Tzununá before hiking through farmer’s fields to the ridge that separates the two valleys. There are the usual amazing volcano and lake views, but now you also get a bird’s eye view of San Marcos and the western part of the lake. It can sometimes be slippery coming down, then the last 15 minutes is through the less touristy upper barrios of San Marcos. The recording shows us starting from Pasaj-Cap Rentals, an easy 15-minute downhill walk to Tzununá.

https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/pasajcap-tzununa-san-marcos-33528314

20. Santa Lucia Utatlan – Tzununá Overlook Village Loop

Distance: 16km

Elevation Gain: 550m

Time: 4-5 hrs

Difficulty: Moderate

Most people prefer this version over #16 or #17. It starts out exactly the same but at the picnic area, instead of trekking all the way down the valley, it loops around through several small villages to return to the starting point. The downsides are more road walking and the need to get transport back down as well as up. However, the roads are typically pretty quiet, the villages friendly and interesting, and it is easy to catch a minibus back to Santa Clara once you reach the main road, or sometimes there will be a chicken bus that can take you all the way to San Pablo.

https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/santa-lucia-utatlan-tzununa-overlook-loop-45822660

21. Santa Clara to San Juan – Long Ridge Hike

Distance: 10km

Elevation Gain: 200m

Time: 2.5-3.5 hrs

Difficulty: Moderate

As a group, this is probably our favourite hike. While it is obviously possible to start at the parque, just like in #7, that adds an extra 3 km so we normally just start in Santa Clara since the second parf of this one is longer. It follows the same route from Santa Clara to the ridge, but soon after, when the trail forks, you take the right option which leads through the trees up a steep hill for about 10 minutes.

View of Lake Atitlan from under trees on the San Juan long ridge hike

After that you follow an undulating trail through fields, forest and past several more viewpoints before joining up with a dirt road that leads off to nearby villages, including Panyevar (more on this in #8). Then we leave the road for another 1-hour descent into San Juan, but one that is slightly less steep than #7 and through a different valley with close-up views of Volcán San Pedro.

https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/santa-clara-la-laguna-san-juan-la-laguna-long-ridge-hike-lake-atitlan-22978294

22. San Juan Ridge Loop

View of San Pedro volcano with flowers in foreground

Distance: 10km

Elevation Gain: 670m

Difficulty: Moderate

For those who want to balance out their climbs and descents, this one goes all the way up to the ridge from San Juan (the GPS route starts right at the dock), then goes across and down just like on the Santa Clara – San Juan Long Ridge Hike. A good loop for someone looking to get some exercise while the rest of their group is shopping in San Juan.

https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/san-juan-ridge-loop-47242101

You can also do it in the other direction but then you are going down on the steepest section, not our favourite. The GPS only shows it being short because I recorded from the edge of town to the edge of town instead of all the way from (and to) the dock.

https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/san-juan-long-ridge-loop-97017692

23. Cerro de Oro

Hill in front of a volcano

Distance: 2 km (return)

Elevation Gain: 200m

Time: 1.5 hrs

Difficulty: Moderate

A popular hike near San Lucas Toliman is to the top of Cerro de Oro (Gold Hill). This sacred Mayan peak offers tremendous views of the lake and San Pedro volcano, plus there is a fascinating Mayan altar and “The Door”, one of the entrances to Xiballba (Underworld). Proceed with caution, I suppose.

Since the top is just over 300-metres-high you aren’t faced with anywhere near the amount of climbing necessary to reach the top of the volcanoes. It is steep, though, very steep. So even though it isn’t an all-day undertaking like the volcanoes, it is still fairly strenuous and can be a serious challenge for people who don’t do a lot of hiking.

The trail can be tricky to follow at times and there have been occasional robberies reported on Cerro de Oro so it is best to go with a guide. Any of the hotels or restaurants in San Lucas should be able to put you in touch with someone, or you can sometimes even ask for a police escort.

https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/volcan-cerro-de-oro-112620443

24. San Antonio Palopo – Santa Catarina Palopo

Distance: 9 km

Elevation Gain: 560m

Time: 2.5-3 hrs

Difficulty: Moderate

One of the few Atitlan hikes that blends a reasonable uphill climb with a gentle descent (so many are steep in one direction or the other). This terrific, varied hike follows a local path out of San Antonio all the way up the hill to the ridge-top town of Godinez. And while the climb is significant, it is usually fairly gradual and the trail is generally wide and smooth (along with stairs in the steeper parts).

The views back over the lake are amazing as well. Then, just before reaching Godinez proper, you turn north, passing through a series of farmer’s fields and a couple lovely valleys until the trail eventually joins up with the “Flower Route” (#5) from Godinez to Santa Catarina.

From then on the trail is exceptionally scenic and almost entirely a comfortable, mild downhill slope. There are only a couple of spots along the way where it is a bit steeper and slipperier where you need to take care. The rest of the time it is a pleasant stroll offering some of the most amazing views you’ll find on the east side of the lake.

The views include a good look back over San Antonio Palopo, beyond to San Lucas Toliman and further yet to Cerro de Oro and the three volcanoes. Towards the end you get fantastic views north along the shoreline with the colourful buildings of Santa Catarina backed by steep, scenic hills.

You can get to San Antonio from Panajachel by pickup or tuk-tuk (30 min) and the hike starts beside the main church with an uphill walk through town.

https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/san-antonio-palopo-santa-catarina-palopo-high-route-128538580

What to Take on Your Lake Atitlan Hike

It is always important to be prepared when venturing out hiking, especially in the mountains. Obviously, long, challenging hikes require more advance planning and safety gear but even for short hikes you still need to be properly equipped. Dressing properly will make the experience much more enjoyable and carrying useful safety supplies can ensure you are prepared in case mishaps take place (as they tend to). Here is a quick checklist of items we alway carry, wear or use while hiking:

A good day pack is essential. We have recently become big fans of Gregory packs and would recommend the Gregory Miwok 18 for short hikes or when your gear is split between two people. And the Gregory Optic 48 for longer hikes. I know 48L sounds big but it is a super-light and comfortable pack that cinches down smaller when it isn’t full.

Water is obviously important and we go back and forth between using a Camelbak bladder and just a couple of water bottles. We also keep a few Aquatabs with us at all times just in case we ever run low and want to treat some river or lake water. They are tiny and every now and then come in quite handy. It is always a good idea to carry some snacks as well. It never hurts and sometimes hikes end up taking longer than planned.

Good socks! Everyone understands good shoes or boots are essential (my current favourites are Salomon Cross Hikes) but wearing good wool socks can make just as much of a difference:

Laynni always hikes in compression leggings that she swears by for the extra knee, hip and muscle support.

Layers, baby! You never know what kind of weather nature will throw at you so it pays to be ready for anything. Obviously, the forecast might change what you carry but if there is any doubt (and there almost always is in the mountains), bring extra.

Northface Canyonlands full zip fleece

Northface Venture rain jacket

Arc’teryx Incendo hooded wind jacket

Quechua 40L rain poncho

And just in case we are so impressed by the scenery that we decide it’s worth a photo with both of us in it we always carry the tiny, extremely handy octopus tripod.

Of course, a comprehensive first-aid kit is key to make sure those “mishaps” are simply inconvenient and don’t ruin your whole day.

Other useful items that we sometimes carry and sometimes don’t, depending on the hike:

Hiker Hunger Aluminum trekking poles

Auhike Stainless Steel Crampons

Sabre bear spray (although that is definitely not a Guatemala issue)

Well, that probably covers most of it, although somehow we have even more to say on the matter in our Day Hike Packing List post. Check it out if you’re looking for even more detailed info.

Lake Atitlan Hikes Summary

If you’ve followed any of our travels you’ll know we love to hike. So anywhere we choose to stay for an extended period has to have some good options to get out and wander. The Lake Atitlan hikes may not be as structured or accessible as those in North America or Europe but once you know where you’re going you can find some real gems. Plus, you are likely to have most of the trails to yourself.

There are many things to recommend about this area but definitely the hiking on Lake Atitlan is one of the most important (for us, anyway). Happy hiking!

Other Lake Atitlan articles you may want to check out:

San Pedro la Laguna: A Guide to Lake Atitlan’s Most Popular Village

San Juan la Laguna: A Guide to Lake Atitlan’s Artistic Village

San Marcos la Laguna: A Guide to Lake Atitlan’s Spiritual Village

Pasajcap Rentals: Our Favourite Place to Stay on the Lake

Tzununa: A Guide to Lake Atitlan’s Holistic Village

Jaibalito: A Guide to Lake Atitlan’s Quietest Village

Santa Cruz la Laguna: A Guide to Lake Atitlan’s Village With the Best Views

Panajachel: Gateway to Stunning Lake Atitlan

Santa Catarina Palopo: A Guide to Lake Atitlan’s Most Colourful Village

San Antonio Palopo: A Guide to Lake Atitlan’s Pottery Village

San Lucas Toliman: Guide to Lake Atitlan’s Secret Village

Santiago Atitlan: Guide to an Authentic Mayan Town

12 thoughts on “The 24 Best Lake Atitlan Hikes (2024 update)”

  1. Hey! How much are those apartments a month? I am home for f’ing tax season. I am not sure when I can get a long haul flight again as I may have some other business here in California. So, I am wondering, that might be a good quick flight place to hang out.
    Your Antarctic Explorer Friend,
    Mike

    PS I know a shit ton of bloggers and I don’t read but a few. You always make the cut. Good material and relaxed format (relaxed!).

    1. We climbed Rostro Maya today. Fantastic but top very confusing. As route flattens out there is a well prepared viewing area and a great looking path through the farmers coffee. He will charge you 25Q , but his viewing platform is the “chin” . You can not continue along the ridge and must retrace your steps and contour around behind the mountain until you find another path that goes to the “nose” , before that is another path to another farmers platform that you must ignore. It isn’t easy to find. Look on Alltrails . Otherwise we have made great use of your advice . Staying in Santa Cruz

      1. Glad you enjoyed the hike. Yeah, the situation is always changing up there, they try to make it hard to reach without paying some “entrance fees”. I’ll have a look on the map and see if I can work out how you got there. Then we’ll be back in a couple months and I’ll check it out for myself again. Thanks for sharing this info, enjoy the rest of your time on Atitlan!

  2. What a great compilation , thanks so much ! We are traveling in south america currently, but Pasach cap keeps a top spot in our hearts .

  3. Most are $700-850/mo, but the deal gets worse the shorter your stay. It would be great to see you again if you could find time to make it down here! It’s usually fully booked up in high season (i.e. now) but I can never keep track completely and there are often cancellations. If you’re serious give me some example dates and I’ll talk to Pierre and see what he has.

  4. Hi! Did the Tzununa Ridge hike yesterday. It was pretty epic. Difficult but manageable.

    Any idea how to contact this Antonio fella from Santiago? Wouldn’t mind tackling Volcan Atitlan as well.

    Trying to figure out how to load all the wikiloc files onto one map. I think I figured out how the trails overlap.

    You basically GPSed the major trails on the North Side of the lake. That’s about as helpful as it gets! Thank you!

    1. Yeah, that’s a pretty cool hike, glad it worked out. Antonio’s number is 5828-4986, good guy. On Wikiloc, if you can get to the page with a list of trails on the left and a map on the right you can click on the eye symbol next to all of the hikes you want to show up on the map at the same time. You can’t do much besides look at them on that screen but maybe that’s enough. I know how to get there from my trails list but not sure how it will work for someone else. Good luck!

  5. Dean, you are a beast! My wife and I did the #6 Tsununa Ridge today, that thing is pretty overgrown and the descent hits 75% grades much of the time. We’re both well experienced world trekkers, I used to do a lot of climbing, and we were absolutely wrecked afterwards…..excellent GPX track though. Was getting a bit nervous coming down that if we ran into a landslide or something since this was last walked, that we might end up having to turn around. The vertical here is pretty stupendous. We’re also thinking of tackling Atitlan when the weather improves. Sounds like these days San Pedro and Rostra Maya are nothing but robberies.

    1. Glad you managed it! Yeah, I got dragged along by a much more hardcore friend on that one – tough day and the trail was probably in better condition back then. I assume very few people use the middle part of the ridge trail. And landslides are always a concern in Guatemala, especially this time of year.

      Atitlan is steep and long but much more straightforward. It’s too bad to hear about the robberies but I’m not surprised, they’ve been getting worse every year. I really don’t understand why they can’t get that under control – everyone knows what’s happening and those two hikes are so important for tourism in the area.

      If you haven’t already done it I’d really recommend Acatanengo. It can be a bit of an assembly line (although probably not too bad right now) but it’s something to get that close to the eruptions. Plus, it doesn’t cost much more to hire a private guide so you’re not stuck with the slowest person in the group. Some people even do it on their own but personally I’d go with a company since they have all the tents/huts, etc. already set up at the top.

  6. Richard (Dean) Elder

    Hi Dean
    Congratulations on having a fairly rare name like ours. LOL. My back country mountains are the Wind River range in central Wyoming but even there you have to go at least two days from a trail head to get privacy these days. The Laguna looks like I’d need at least several lengthy months of exploration before beginning to exhaust the hiking options. Time to get started!

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