Again we were a bit late deciding where to go next, so we booked our entire trip to the lake the night before we left. That made it impossible to find space on a shuttle, and we had a fast, comfortable and slightly expensive private car (Carlos from our hotel) taking us here instead. We arrived at the pier in Panajachel, the most developed (and quite touristy) town by the lake at 1230 pm, and instead of waiting for the ferry we took a private boat the short ride to Santa Cruz la Laguna. Most of the village is built on a shelf 100 meters above the water, but our hotel (La Iguana Perdida) is located just by the dock, with beautiful views over the water and the surrounding volcanoes.
La Iguana Perdida is a relaxed, social and fun place with beautiful gardens, houses painted in bright colours, great staff, a 3 course family style dinner every night and it also houses the only PADI dive shop on the lake (ATI divers). We did two freshwater altitude dives here, and both were amazing. Earthquakes, tropical storms and landslides has made the lake rise, flooding several hotels, houses and piers, and we were able to dive on a few of them.
Together with our dive instructor, Oli, we were hanging out on balconies, swimming through windows, under piers and through trees, stopping at a garden fence watching fish swim by and crabs run into hiding, had a break at an underwater bar, washed our hands in a still working tap, and even went in to a small sauna with an air pocket on top and a dripping shower. Very cool! We were fascinated by the green algae forming small towers at the bottom, trying to keep air from escaping. We felt the heat in the sand and from the hot springs in a volcanic rift, and even tried to boil an egg on one of them. Very different and a lot of fun!
We planned to visit a few other villages around the lake, but we met so many wonderful people at the hotel that we never got around to it. With only one full day there and focus on the diving, we didn’t really have the time for it either. If we hadn’t booked a flight, we would definitely have extended our stay. The day after our dives we left at 8 am, and travelled by shuttle to Antigua (again we were lucky enough to be the only passengers). We went back to the hotel we had been staying at there, left our bags and had time for lunch and internet (no wi-fi in Santa Cruz) before Carlos drove us to the airport.