Travel: Eco-Friendly Escape In San Marcos la Laguna, Guatemala
San Marcos La Laguna, Guatemala…boy is this a special place. This was one of those travel destinations that actually found me, and it could not have been more perfect. When I was working on a food security and malnutrition project in rural Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador I had the opportunity to also travel extensively throughout Central America with Mike after my assignment concluded, and somehow we stumbled up this special place.
After what was a very stressful work experience, I knew that I wanted the first place we traveled to for fun to be somewhere that was both authentic to the amazing Guatemalan culture I had grown to love, but also calming. Like always we knew that we wanted to avoid anything touristy as much as possible, and try to find a place where we could just enjoy all the beauty that Guatemala has to offer.
Lake Atitlán I knew was a place that we needed to experience after I had heard so many majestic telling’s of this special lake, which rises and falls somewhat mysteriously, and is surrounded by volcanos. What is really special about this lake is that there are many villages, with many different vibes spread out around the lake that you can hop around to, or choose to setup camp in based on what you are looking for. Since we weren't going to have too long to spend at Lake Atitlán we decided that we really wanted to just relax in one location that we knew fit us, and the way we like to travel.
So how did we decide on San Marcos La Laguna? I honestly just opened my travel book to a page for Lake Atitlán, the first place I saw was San Marcos La Laguna, and I said “alright I guess this is where we are going”. What I didn’t know is that San Marcos La Laguna is actually know for its spirituality, health conscious culture, and yoga community! Can you believe it?!
It could not have been more perfect, and to make things even better we booked a bamboo eco friendly house on Airbnb to stay in that we later found out was located at the beginning of the trail to the yoga forest, which is an eco-friendly yoga retreat, and pretty much the most beautiful place on earth.
So since I am a yoga teacher, I need to tell you a little bit more about what I believe to be one of San Marcos La Laguna’s greatest treasures, the yoga forest. The yoga forest is a yoga retreat that is located high up in the mountains in San Marcos La Laguna. It is about a 30 minute or so hike to reach the yoga forest, but when you do you honestly feel as though you have stepped into a magical oasis.
There are small bungalows that you can stay in for a true yoga retreat, or you can simply visit the yoga forest for their open public yoga classes in one of the most beautiful yoga spaces I have ever seen. They also serve vegan/vegetarian food, juices, tea, etc. which makes it overall an incredible place for anyone to visit, yogi or not. Honestly, when I stepped into this magical place I knew that San Marcos Laguna has picked me to come there and experience exactly what I needed.
Aside from the yoga forest, we were also blown away by the health conscious, vegan/vegetarian, gluten friendly restaurants in San Marcos Laguna. I honestly can say that some of the best gluten free/vegan food I have ever had was at Il Gardino, we went there every single day that we stayed in San Marcos La Laguna, whether it was for a fresh pressed juice, breakfast burrito, or an out of this world dinner. We also had an incredible Indian meal at Fé, which serves a variety of food, both vegan/vegetarian and not.
On our last day in San Marcos Laguna we ended up visiting the National Park, which I would recommend to everyone, there are a ton of trails to hike/walk with beautiful views and some incredible jumps to take into the lake if you are feeling a little adventurous. We ended spending the whole day swimming, hiking, and eating by the lake which honestly could not have been a more perfect way to end our trip in San Marcos La Laguna.
I will note that getting to San Marcos La Laguna is easy from Antigua, Guatemala. You can use almost any travel/tour company in the city, most of which offer daily buses to the various towns surrounding the Lake. However, I will warn you that it is a bit of a journey, 3+ hours and there are times that the road can be a little bit frightening (steep and winding as you come down from the mountains to the lake), but once you are there the experience really can't be beat.