Guatemala // The western highlands //

Santa Cruz La Laguna

Gorgeous SANTA CRUZ LA LAGUNA, stretching for about two kilometres in a verdant ribbon along the lakeshore, is a supremely tranquil and beautiful village. With some terrific accommodation, yoga classes, kayaking and hiking, it’s not surprising its star is on the rise. Above all, it’s the (almost) complete lack of roads that really makes this place – just one little lane snakes up to the Maya village high above the lakeshore, and the only access is by boat. With no traffic to contend with, the lake really comes into its own, and it’s very easy to be seduced by the mellow pace of life, watching hummingbirds buzz between exotic flowers or Maya boatmen fish for crabs. You really can get back to nature here.

Most of the lakeshore has been bought up by foreigners and wealthy Guatemalans, while the Maya village is high above the water. The two communities coexist well, with many villagers employed in foreign businesses. Unfortunately the rise in Atitlán’s lakewater has swamped some shoreline paths, but it’s still possible to explore the Santa Cruz bay using a system of gangplanks and trails.