We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Santiago/Tzununa or Pana for 1st time visitors?

Los Angeles
Level Contributor
78 posts
31 reviews
Save Topic
Santiago/Tzununa or Pana for 1st time visitors?

Hi all,

Well, we leave on 8/19, and we have the first 2 nights booked in Antigua, plus a 3-day Tikal trip lined up at the end.

In the meantime, what town would be a better choice for first time visitors who are not fluent in Spanish, not traveling with a group, are seasoned, fit, tolerant, but not late night partyers?

I had figured Hotel San Buenaventura in Pana, but Pana doesn't sound as if it's worth 2 nights (this would be Fri. and Sat., by the way). We want quiet, but we'd like to walk to basics: stores, restaurants, an actual town.

Santiago appeals because you can drive there (we might rent a car. Might), or there are shuttles from Antigua.

The places there (Posada de Santiago, Lomas de Tzununa) look easily as nice as the Buenaventura, and are cheaper. Also, on this board I read about noisy parties at the high-rise next door to the Buena ..

Thanks -

Bethesda, MD
Level Contributor
3,151 posts
38 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Santiago/Tzununa or Pana for 1st time visitors?

IMO you can't go wrong at either Lomas or the Posada. For what you're looking for, Santiago fits the bill.

Lake Atitlan
Destination Expert
for Lake Atitlan
Level Contributor
1,100 posts
241 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Santiago/Tzununa or Pana for 1st time visitors?

To elaborate a little on the previous reply; the Posado Santiago is located in/near the largest village on the lake. You will be able to access the town and its sights. None of the rooms have lake views, and I think that is a bit of a drawback. The restaurant is quite good. The horseback riding that is available thru the Posado is first class and a great adventure.

Lomas de Tzununa is really more luxurious and each room has spectacular views from the room and balcony. The restaurant is excellent. You may feel a little isolated in that the village of Tzununa is best explored only with a guide. The north shore is more rugged and the villages more rustic.

Two completely different experiences.

That said, my recommendation would be to stay at Lomas de Tzununa, then take day trips to explore Lake Atitlan and its villages. Hiking into the mountains above the lake, maybe even a hike from the lakeshore to the market in Solola, a lake tour which would include a visit to San Juan la Laguna, and if you have time a visit to the hot springs near Santa Catarina. Your hosts at which ever hotel you choose can help arrange this, or check out Los Elementos Adventure Center which specializes in these tours and features English speaking guides.

One other thought might be to rent a private home in one of the villages. See VRBO.com for options. Most of these are located in beautiful little enclaves within the expat communities and feature all the amenities you mentioned.

Lastly, as someone who has lived in Guatemala full time several years, leave the driving to the shuttle drivers. Driving in this country is a harrowing experience. If you do not want to be packed into a shared shuttle, private drivers are quite affordable. While you will not find them on line, I have a long list of private drivers for a good price. Drop me a line if you wish more information from a local.

Los Angeles
Level Contributor
78 posts
31 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Santiago/Tzununa or Pana for 1st time visitors?

Wow, guys, thanks for the great advice.

The car and driver is a great idea, and I will follow up.

So nobody is recommending Pana and/or Hotel San Buenaventura? I know Pana is "touristy" but, hey, we are tourists. It's the potential for noise (we will be there on the weekend) that worries me.

Re: Santiago - I realize this is a ridiculous question -- but if we arrive by car or shuttle, do we get to escape the "quetzal" kids and the overly aggressive vendadoras? I understand they congregate down by the dock. Yeah, there are much worse things than being accosted by kids looking for a quick Q or two, but let's face it, that is nobody's idea of fun. As for their cursing/flipping the bird, I'm a teacher ... I get cursed out by kids (teenagers) all the time. Just was hoping to avoid it until after Labor Day ;)

Appreciative,

sw

Bethesda, MD
Level Contributor
3,151 posts
38 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Santiago/Tzununa or Pana for 1st time visitors?

If you arrive by car or shuttle, they should drop you off right at the Posada. Even if you take a lancha to the main dock, just ignore the kids and head for a tuk-tuk. Or hire a lancha direct to the Posada.

5. Re: Santiago/Tzununa or Pana for 1st time visitors?

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 12:18 am, February 09, 2010