When I talked about heading to Guatemala for a getaway, everyone asked, “Why Guatemala?”
To which I answered, “Why not Guatemala?”
I social media stalked Guatemala for months- it looked like the perfect destination to escape to with the BF while my son was away with his dad. A 5 hour flight from L.A., brimming with natural beauty, culturally interesting, and a combo of off-the-beaten-path-enough-to-be-adventurous, yet tourist-friendly enough to feel relaxing, Guatemala looked dreamy. I was sold.
8am. Landed in Guatemala City. A 2.5 hour private shuttle bus ride took us to the Lake Atitlan village dock at Panajachel, where our private water taxi was waiting to take us to Villa Sumaya in Santa Cruz La Laguna, a yoga retreat resort on the lake, 15 minutes away.
Villa Sumaya, accessible only by boat or foot, is a lush, charming property with homemade vegetarian meals (chicken & fish are available too), massage and healing treatments, yoga studios, hot tub and breathtaking vistas of the lake. We scarfed down our surprisingly tasty lunch of mushu wraps made with fresh vegetables and salad sourced from their own gardens. The room was new and comfortable, with the amazing lake views from the bed, balcony and rooftop deck right above our room, which proved to be one of my favorite places to hang out. Rooms range from $60-180 USD/night, meals are very affordable.
After a nap, we explored the grounds and did some sunset yoga in the Tiger Temple before walking to dinner at the resort next door. Zotz at the Laguna Lodge has a charming ambiance, but the food paled in comparison to Villa Sumaya.
Woke up to the sound of waves lapping on the shore and a view of the volcanoes across the lake. Smoothies in the cafe for breakfast, with greens, ginger, pineapple, coconut milk. Super yummy, with some ginger peach tea from their massive tea selection.
Villa Sumaya is eco-friendly, asking the guests to put small trash into used plastic water bottles to be used a bricks for building projects around the grounds. Solar assisted hot water for shower. Filtered water is readily available around the retreat to refill your water bottles.
We took a public water taxi back to Panajachel, about 30 Quetzales for 2, (there’s a “tourist” price, it’s less for locals, but don’t trip on this, it’s still only about $4) to change some money, then a tuk tuk ride to the Lake Atitlan Nature Reserve for hiking, waterfalls, a butterfly environment, suspension bridges, and…ZIP LINING. Some hella long zip lines maxing out at about 860 meters long. That’s longer than 8 football fields. Whooooohooo!
But first stop, the mariposario.
A large dome full of flowers and butterflies, and just outside, a lab where you could see the butterflies hatching out of their cocoons. Some looked like branches, some like jewels. We even caught a rather intimate moment between these two…
We strolled the nature reserve, seeing monkeys, a coati, racoons, peacocks, waterfalls & suspension bridges before beginning our rigorous hike up the mountain to start the zip line course. The guides were friendly, knowledgeable. Views like this reward you around every turn…
Go pro footage coming soon!
Tuk tuk back to Pana 20Q ($3 USD), then lunch at Atlantis cafe with a jewel of a hidden tropical garden in the back. The food was just okay, but the limonada was perfectly refreshing.
Public water taxi back to Villa Sumaya just in time for my Ayurvedic massage w/ Eran. He moved to Guatemala just a month ago after living in India for 3 years. Described as a light touch massage with macadamia nut oil, that penetrates the muscles for max relaxation, we begin in a chair. He says it will be like an extended meditation, and that we must 1st make a connection. He places oil on my hair and his hands on my head. We breathe in unison 3 times. Not much deep muscle work, but I feel relaxed and present. “If you mind starts to wander into the past or the future, just feel the touch of my hands to bring you back to the present.” I focus on the heat of the oil, the touch of his hands and fall into a deep meditative rest. Just rest.
Meditation spots and quiet nooks abound at Villa Sumaya. A great place for reflection, quiet and just being. I love it.
This rooftop deck proved the perfect place to watch a thunderstorm roll across the lake.
Coming up…touring the towns around the lake and the ruins and captivating courtyards of Antigua.