Driving from Panajachel to San Pedro La Laguna at Lake Atitlan Question and Answer

I have received a question from Davide – “Could you give me driving directions from Panajachel to San Pedro la Laguna at Lake Atitlan in Guatemala for an automobile, July 2010?
Too much personal crap to haul along to take a water taxi.”

My free opinion is that instead of the 1 1/2 or 2 hour drive into San Pedro on very changeable roads, I would find a Parqueo in Panajachel and then;

A. Hire a private shuttle from San Pedro to take you and your supplies, have him bring a helper if there is quite a lot. Have them help you load and unload. He will know the roads. If you are parked in San Pedro and there is a slide, getting out could be a mess. The road in is steep, and in fairly poor condition. Once there, it will be easy to take a boat out in a pinch. The shuttle drivers can seem a little nuts, but they know the roads well. Try Casa Verde or Bigfoot in San Pedro.

B. Hire a private launcha (water taxi) at the dock in Panajachel and get a helper, fast and most easy option if it’s a clear day. Should run no more than Q300-ish.

Lake Atitlan and Launchas in Panajachel Guatemala

A view of Lake Atitlan looking towards San Pedro and San Juan from the dock in Panajachel

To drive yourself go up and out Solola then turn left onto CA1 towards Quetzaltenango. Drive for about 30 minutes-ish, depende, more or less, then make the left turn for Volcan San Pedro. There are signs on the highway, and a walkway over the highway where you turn left into the lake. That road continues down, through little pueblos including San Pablo which gets a bit tricky, but you will turn right in this town and continue down. It is a switchback filled and steeply inclined brake and transmission punishing road. I and and least three other people I know have lost brakes going down into San Pedro. Be very careful, don’t overheat your brakes, watch out for loco chicken buses and pickups full of concrete. The drive from the turn off the highway down in to San Pedro is about 1 hour-ish, depende, mas or menos. Do not do this drive yourself in the rain unless you are some kind of ace at driving bad roads in poor conditions and a bit loco, seriously.

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