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La Casa Del Mundo, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

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La Casa Del Mundo sign, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

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In Jaibalito, the smallest of all the lakeside villages along Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, is a small tourist hotel called La Casa del Mundo.  Perched on the cliffs overlooking the lake and only reachable by boat, this magnificent hotel has everything you want. The views from many of the private rooms and the dining room are absolutely spectacular and many visitors spend the day relaxing in chairs on their balcony, reading a book, marveling at the dramatic volcanoes and the blueness of the water. It is a perfect destination if you want to get away or if you're looking for a bit more of luxurious experience after many weeks in more budget accommodation. 

Eating

The restaurant in the hotel offers a full menu for breakfast and lunch including delicious fruit smoothies and some of the best coffee you can find in Guatemala. Dinner is also exceptionally tasty and is served "family style" at two large tables in the dining room. Pre order either meat or vegetarian options beforehand and meet some of the other guests staying at the hotel. Dinner costs $12 a plate.   

Rooms

Balcony at Case del Mundo, Lake Atitian, Guatemala

It is highly recommended to reserve your rooms ahead of time to ensure availability and to get the best selection of the rooms they have to offer. La Casa del Mundo website is easy to navigate and has good photos of every room so that you know what you are getting. Rooms range from $35 to $85 with various combinations of beds. We stayed in room 15 the first night and room 13 the next. Both had incredible views of the lake and awesome private balconies. Room 13 was exceptionally amazing and definitely worth spending a bit more money on. Apparently room 12 has a stunning view as well. 

Above: View from our private balcony in room 15.  

Activities

View of Lake Atitian from Casa del Mundo, Guatemala

Above: View of Lake Atitlan, volcano, and La Casa del Mundo dock. 

Walk to San Marcos La Laguna

The 2.5-hour one-way walk to San Marcos La Laguna from Jaibalito is totally recommended and known to be the most scenic walk between any of the villages along Lake Atitlan. The narrow footpath provides beautiful views of the lake as it winds in and out of forests and up and down through cornfields. Passing through two other small villages yet to be noticeably disturbed by tourism was the highlight of the walk for me. At either of these villages you can sit down for a rest, beverage, or snack before continuing on to San Marcos. If you have the energy and the time, you can walk back to La Casa Del Mundo the same way you came or you can do what we did, take a boat back tot the hotel, which only takes about 10 minutes. The last boat currently leaves at 5pm.

Note about Jaibalito to San Marcos safety 

In the past there have been some robberies on the path from Jaibalito to San Marcos. Be sure to ask the hotel about the current safety of the area before heading out on your own. For 50 quetzals (7 dollars) La Casa Del Mundo offers guides to accompany you for safety. Having a local guide is also a nice way to learn a bit more about the land and the villages of the area. 

San Marcos La Laguna

   

Known for its spiritual retreats and relaxed "hippy" atmosphere, San Marcos has become somewhat of a Mecca for expats and more spiritual seeking travelers. It's a cool little village with a lot of good places to eat (Hostel La Paz has especially good vegetarian food). If you arrive in San Marcos from Jaibalito early enough in the afternoon a fun thing to do is go to "La Trampolina", which is wooden platform built about 7-8 meters over the lake, from which you can jump.  Picnicking there with some guacamole and beverages is a lovely way to spend an afternoon. To get there follow the path along the lake or just ask anyone in town. The entrance fee for La Trampolina is 15 quetzals (2 dollars US). 

Above: Backflip at sunset from the San Marcos La Laguna jumping platform. [That's author Nick Runkle jumping in this photo.]

Kayaking

The hotel has kayaks available for guests for about $15 a day. Kayaking in the morning is best, as the lake tends to be calm and glassy in the morning with the wind picking up in the afternoon. 

Wood fire hot tub

For $35 dollars you can rent an enormous wood fire hot tub along the lake. It is amazing. They stoke the fire before dinner and after dinner the tub is hot and for you to enjoy. Buy some wine or drinks and relax, but just a forewarning, it can get really hot! 

Getting there

From practically anywhere in Guatemala you can take a shuttle or chicken bus to the lakeside towns of Panajachel or San Pedro and hop on a lancha (long motor boat) to La Casa del Mundo. In Panajachel, at the very end of Calle del Embarcadero, there is a public dock from which all boats leave called Muelle Tzanjuyu. Tell the boat driver that you are going to La Casa Del Mundo. They will know exactly where to take you and will drop you off at the hotel's private dock. Confirm a price before getting on the boat and do not pay more than 20 quetzales per person.

The boat ride is very enjoyable, and takes about 30 minutes from both Panajachel and San Pedro.

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