Lake Atitlan is the deepest lake in Central America. It was formed by the volcanic eruption of the crater left over 80,000 years ago. It is known as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. Even the British writer Huxley left a famous admiration.
Cliffs surround the edge of Lake Atitlan, and three volcanoes sit on the south side. It is a large lagoon in the highlands of Guatemala. The Mayan villages and towns around Lake Atitlan are also a major feature, and the residents have continued the traditional Mayan dress and customs.
The surrounding basins provide nutrients for growing various crops, such as coffee, due to the minerals provided by the volcano. For many tourists, it provides the best environment for self-cultivation, so many meditation and yoga centers have opened in the Lake District recently.
Lake Atitlan Introduction
The Lake Atitlan area lies in the southwestern region of Guatemala; the lake and surrounding region are perhaps one of the most picturesque in Central America. It has been selected as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. "Atitlan" is a Mayan word that translates as "the place where the rainbow gets its colors." Indigenous communities live around the lake, and more than forty archaeological sites have been identified.
Lake Atitlan surrounds many different towns. The largest of these towns is Panajachel, which has many hotels and is the tourist's main gathering point. Other towns can also be reached by minibus or boat. For example, San Pedro, a favorite lakeside town for backpackers, has a wealth of nightlife and youth hostels to choose from, and you can climb Volcan San Pedro. The small town of San Marcos on the west side of the lakeshore has many meditation and yoga retreats.
Lake Atitlan was formed by a huge volcanic eruption 85,000 years ago. The release of volcanic pressure had devastating consequences. The eruption produced kilometers of sprawling rock and ash that left a huge hole in the crust, making Atitlan one of the deepest lakes in Central America. Atitlan is unique because it is a freshwater lake with no outlet and is supplied by two estuaries of nearby rivers. This massive water-filled crater lake is surrounded by escarpments and three volcanoes on its southern flank: Tolimán (3,158m/10,361 ft), Atitlán (3,557m/11,670 ft), and San Pedro (3,020m/9,908 ft).
Lake Atitlan Size
- The lake sits at about 1562 meters (5,125 feet).
- The maximum length and width are about 19 km (12 miles) and 10 km (6 miles). With a surface area of approximately 130 square kilometers (50.2 sq miles), Lake Atitlan has around 20 km3 (4.8 cubic mi) of water.
- The lake has a maximum depth of about 340 meters (1,120 ft) at the center and an average depth of 220 meters (720 ft).
|Type||Crater lake, endorheic|
|Surface area||130 square kilometers (50.2 sq mi)|
|Depth||maximum: 340 meters (1,120 ft), average: 220 meters (720 ft)|
|Water volume||20 km3 (4.8 cubic mi)|
|Surface elevation||1,562 m (5,125 ft)|
The area around Lake Atitlan became a national park in 1955. At the time, the world knew almost nothing about Lake Atitlan, and Guatemala wanted to find a way to promote tourism and boost the local economy. A non-native species, the black bass, were introduced to the lake in 1958 in order to attract more anglers. The perch quickly adapted and began to devour the native creatures of the lake, eventually wiping out two-thirds of the native fish species and causing the extinction of the Atitlan grub. This rare bird lived only in the peri-lake area.
Lake Atitlan is renowned as one of the world's most beautiful lakes and one of Guatemala's most important national and international tourist attractions. The area around San Marcos has particularly tall cliffs abutting the lake and has become renowned for cliff diving in recent years. The lake attracts tourists with its volcanic origin, ancient Mayan culture, and peaceful atmosphere. The best way to enjoy the beauty of the lake area is a 5-hour hike, a round trip trail to the top of San Pedro Volcano.