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Things to know


Although it is possible to pay for some things in US dollars (such as the van rides) we recommend you get Quetzales when you arrive. There are a couple of ATMs in the airport and a few in Panajachel and most other cities. You can ask anyone on the street where the ATM or ‘cajero’ is located. We recommend bringing US dollars and a debit or credit card that you can use in the ATM instead of travelers’ checks so you don’t have to rely on the bank being open in order to get cash. Some places (restaurants / grocery stores / a few stores) do take credit cards. Make sure you tell your bank ahead of time that you will be traveling in Guatemala so your account is not frozen when you first use the ATM or your credit card. 

Security - personal.

As with travel anywhere we recommend that you take normal precautions and care in terms of personal security. In general the lake area is calm and peaceful place and the population is extremely friendly and welcoming. However, as anywhere, it is best to be cautious and aware. It is recommended that you don’t hike alone and is better to hike in groups.

Security - house.

The house is not in a heavily traveled area so there is little fear of theft but as with security in general it is good to take precautions. While you are away during the day, lock the house, and put all valuables in the safe, which is provided for your convenience. 

Water & food.

It is recommended that you not drink unfiltered water and ice or eat uncooked food unless you know that the water has been filtered. Many restaurants serve and cook with filtered water (agua pura). At Casa Pamakanya, drinking water will be available (in 5 gallon dispensers in each house) throughout your stay. The tap water in the house is pumped in from the lake and is not for drinking. 

Medical care. 

There are hospitals in Solola & Guatemala City, and dentists and doctors and plenty of pharmacies in Panajachel. A list of emergency numbers is in the guest book at the house and in the event of an emergency our property manager Armand is available to help. 

Local wildlife.

The lake ecosystem is healthy—and does includes spiders, scorpions, beetles and other insects. Don’t worry though…the common spiders don’t bite - even the big ‘scary’ flat ones and they eat mosquitos - and although the scorpions can sting, they prefer to hide and their sting does not have a lasting effect. On the bright side there are no snakes around the lake, very few mosquitos and an array of birds. 

Terrain & Elevation.

Guatemala has more than 30 volcanoes (with even a couple near Guatemala city and Antigua that are considered active) and is thus a fairly mountainous tropical area. The lake elevation is over 5,000 feet. Please be aware that this, combined with the steep climbs and hilly terrain, can make getting around a challenge for those not used to physically challenging areas. Fuego is an active volcano near Antigua and you can often, from the porch, see smoke rising from it in the distance. 

Dress respectfully.

When hiking in the countryside, through villages, or visiting markets, please do not wear bathing suits, short shorts or skimpy tops, out of respect to local cultural norms.