The public beach of Las Ninfas was being remodeled by tourism authorities to include boat docks (for sailboats and motorboats), new food stalls, walkways, and landscaping. The long-closed Teleférico (Aerial Tram, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Fri.–Sun., $2 adults, $0.85 children) was reopened in 2006, kicking off the rebirth of one of Guatemala City’s oldest recreational enclaves. The funicular climbs 350 meters up a mountainside along a 1.5-kilometer route. There’s a lookout point at the top of the mountain where you can get out, appreciate the view of the lake and Guatemala City, and grab a bite to eat at a small cafeteria serving tacos, hot dogs, chicken wings, and salads.
Another recreational option is rock climbing on the rock cliffs overlooking the lakeshore on 20 different routes ranging in difficulty from 5.8 to 5.13. Vertical Expeditions (tel. 5801-6871, ask for Manuel Vanegas, or 2232-0044, ask for Julioandre Piedra Santa) does full-day climbing trips for $35 per person with a three-person minimum, including guide, gear, and transportation. It also offers a one-day rock climbing school for $50, covering all aspects of safety, equipment, and climbing techniques. Further options include climbing (5.8 to 5.13) and rappelling along a 70-meter (230-foot) waterfall in the eastern province of Jalapa, 100 kilometers from Guatemala City. You can also rappel down the actual waterfall, a practice commonly referred to as canyoning. Day trips cost $65 per person with a four-person minimum and include guide, transport, and gear. Antigua-based Old Town Outfitters (5a Avenida Sur #12C, tel. 5339-0440, www.adventureguatemala.com) also offers rock-climbing day trips to Amatitlán for $35 per person, including all gear, and can provide instruction.
If you’d rather just soak your weary bones in the warm waters of some pleasant hot springs, you can do that at Kawilal Spa at Baños Termales Santa Teresita (tel. 6633-0225, www.santateresita.com.gt, 8 a.m.–6 p.m. daily). You can enjoy a private steam bath or a soak in a private tub filled with steaming hot water to your taste ($5). Several outdoor pools of varying temperatures are also available and there’s a restaurant serving grilled meats and chicken, salads, sandwiches, and seafood. Rounding out the list of offerings is a spa, where you can enjoy a one-hour massage for about $13.
Parque Nacional Naciones Unidas
This 491-hectare park near the lakeshore is managed by private conservation group Defensores de la Naturaleza (tel. 6630-6421 or 6630-6153) and is open 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday– Friday and 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $3.50. Facilities include picnic areas with barbecue pits, hiking and mountain biking trails with lookout points over the lake, basketball courts, and soccer fields. A five-platform, 400-meter canopy tour and rappelling were added in 2008.
© Al Argueta from Moon Guatemala, 3rd Edition. Photos © Al Argueta www.alargueta.com