Daytripper San Pedro: We Kayaked Around the Lake…And Survived!

By Juan Manuel Rodilla & Sean Wallace2009-July-Kayak-Atitlan

Day 1, 4:00 PM – Two courageous adventurers begin what will become one of the most fantastic trips of their lives. We landed in San Pedro by bus and successfully rented kayaks there, setting off towards Santiago Atitlán for their first night. The kayak man watches fearfully as the two gringos locos paddle off into the waning light. Little does he know that the two have a total of 4 hours kayaking experience between them. Summary: 7 km/2 hrs/tired, but optimistic.

Day 2, 2009, 5:30 AM – At sunrise they set off from Santiago. The lake is calm for the first few hours, but they are fated to spend nearly 12 hours in their tiny boats on this day. Around noon they rest in San Lucas Tolimán, devouring local dishes at the edge of the lake. They are tempted to spend the afternoon in this tranquil town, but nobly choose to suffer onward. Three miserable, windy, sun-filled hours are immediately followed by three more spent fighting a rainstorm, waves pushing against them by the unexplained phenomenon called Xocomil. Arrival in Panajachel is a bittersweet reward. Our sunburned heroes are forced to carry their kayaks and belongings uphill to an overpriced hotel. After sating their gigantic appetites with fried chicken and tacos, they collapse into their beds at 8 PM and sleep soundly through the night. Summary: 28 km/10 hrs/exhausted, covered in 2nd-degree burns; happy the journey is “almost over”.

Day 3, 2009, 6:30 AM – The last push. Only 14 short kilometers lie between the somewhat refreshed kayakers and their goal. The lake cooperates and the beautiful scenery slides by quickly. Two days on the water has created, if not expert kayakers, at least proficient ones. Lanchas, crowded with waving tourists and curious locals, pass throughout the morning. As San Pedro draws ever closer, they begin to taste the sweetness of success. A final effort sees them cross the blue deeps of the lake to reach the final shore. Hasta nunca, kayak! Summary: 14 km/4 hrs/almost unable to walk or lift their arms but thrilled to have completed the adventure

As described here, our trip sounds terrible. But in reality, we were able to spend a weekend looking at one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. Throughout the journey we were enjoying ourselves. In fact, we’re going to do it again in soon, this time in four days rather than three. Also, we’ll take more sunblock the next time.

Necessities: Sunblock, rain jacket, hat, water, snacks.
Cost: Q400 each for the weekend.

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