San Juan La Laguna is a small town on the western shore of Lake Atitlán, home to a largely indigenous population of Tz´utujil people. Discover centuries-old traditions, a wealth of natural beauty and a shrine to a Mayan folk saint.
Embark on a walking tour of the town to see traditional weaving cooperatives where women weave with foot looms. Get insight into the entire process, from creating dye from leaves to preparing the yarn and weaving. Visit the Xocomeel art association to see works in progress and to learn how to paint. As you walk along the streets, pause to study murals that preserve the Mayan culture. They have been painted on several homes and vividly bring to life aspects of day-to-day living as well as the customs and traditions of San Juan La Laguna.
For more insight into traditional practices, go to Tza’an Ab’aaj a managed garden by the lake. Here, you will find out about sustainable growing methods and organic agriculture. Stop by the adjacent café where some of the food is made with ingredients from the garden.
One of the highlights of San Juan La Laguna is the Shrine of St. Maximón in the town center, behind the church. The legend of the folk saint is complex, but it is believed that he was a pre-Columbian Mayan god.
Head a little north of the town to hike up a mountain known as La Nariz del Indio. Nariz is the Spanish word for nose and the mountain earned its sobriquet because of its resemblance to a typical Mayan face in profile. There are also a few more hiking routes through the area.
You can reach San Juan by boat from other lakeside towns or by bus from Guatemala City. The town can be walked in a matter of minutes, but if you want a break, jump aboard a tuk-tuk.
Enjoy a vacation of Mayan cultural insights and outdoor exploration.