Activities include horseback riding and hikes up a mountain known locally as “Indian Nose,” as its shape resembles the profile of a Mayan nose like those depicted on stelae. Horseback riding is available from Rancho Moiseís (next to Zoola hotel, tel. 5967-3235). Next door to Chile’s restaurant on 8a Calle, Restaurante Elena rents kayaks for $2 an hour.
Walking to other villages from here makes sense from a logistical perspective, though too-frequent reports of robberies along the trails prevent me from recommending this as a viable activity. If you do decide to go on any of the hikes, bring only that which you wouldn’t mind losing.
You can swim from either of the docks (watch out for boat traffic) or anywhere along the lakeshore, though recent pollution concerns have made a dip in the lake much less appealing.
Your best bet to beat the heat is La Piscina de San Pedro (on the street heading up from the Santiago boat dock, about 50 meters, tel. 4708-3905, 11 a.m.–dusk daily), where it costs $2.50 to swim (children $1.25) in a pleasant, clean swimming pool surrounded by tropical plants and mural art. A lively bar keeps things hopping. There’s a weekly bocce ball tournament and barbecue on Saturdays starting at 1 p.m. The winning team gets a bottle of rum.
If you like your water bathtub-warm, you have at least two options for soaking in hot tubs. Both places feature concrete tubs filled with water that is solar-heated in black plastic tubing and pumped into reservoirs of various sizes. (You’ll need to call ahead or visit with at least one hour’s prior notice so they can draw the bath.) It costs $7 for one person, but you can split the cost with others sharing the same pool.
The first of these, Solar Pools (7a Avenida 2-22, Zona 2, tel. 5770-5119, solarpools04 [at] gmail [dot] com, 8 a.m.–11 p.m. daily), is located on the main strip of El Otro Lado. Of the two, Solar Pools holds the slight edge in landscaping and it has an adjacent snack bar, Tzan Saqarib’al, serving light fare. You can reserve by phone.
Closer to the lakeshore and a short walk down a side path is Los Termales (8:30 a.m.–11:45 p.m. daily), the town’s self-proclaimed original hot tub operation. Its biggest draw is the sylvan lakeside setting. They prefer that you pre-book your tub in person.
Excursiones Big Foot (tel. 7721-8202), on the main drag as you come up the hill from the Panajachel dock and turn left, is San Pedro’s most reliable outfitter and has been in operation since 1995. It offers trips to San Pedro Volcano with knowledgeable guides and security for $14, including park admission. Big Foot can also guide you to Indian Nose with a four-person minimum for $5 p/p.
Casa Verde Tours (www.casaverdetours.com, tel. 5837-9092 and 7721-8344) just down the street from the Panajachel boat dock, is the town’s other recommended outfitter. They also have a variety of daily shuttle departures.
© Al Argueta from Moon Guatemala, 3rd Edition. Photos © Al Argueta www.alargueta.com