Atitlan is a curious traveler's destination. It's not a tourist destination like a Cancun because it wasn't cleaned up and pasteurized for tourists. Atitlan remains real. Here you're going to be somewhere unlike wherever you've been before and you're going to meet a people you haven't met before. Local Mayan women wear traditional colorful clothes not to impress travelers, but for their own cultural reasons. Most couldn't imagine anything else wearing. The views are spectacular and the weather may be the best in the world; but, like so much of the third world, the population has increased the pressure on the local environment.
Panajachel is the main town on the lakeside, and most people first head here to launch their explorations of Atitlán. Santiago Atitlán has a strong indigenous identity working around the lake, San Pedro La Laguna has a reputation as a party haven for backpackers, and San Marcos La Laguna is a refuge for new-agers. Close to Panajachel, Santa Cruz La Laguna and Jaibalito are among the most idyllic, picturesque places on the lake.
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