While San Antonio Palopó feels like the end of the world, there are some decent transportation options. The basics are here but we will fill in the details as we collect them.
If you have a car, that’s an easy option. It is a 10 kilometer drive on a paved road (with a fair share of potholes) from Panajachel. It’s an easy trip.
Pana doesn’t have a lot of streets so, no matter where you are, the goal is to go over “the yellow bridge”. (It is no more yellow than “the old bridge” but that is what it is called.) If you are on Calle Principal (the street you would enter Pana on from Sololá) head up the hill toward the public market. Half way up the hill you will come to a T with Chalo’s Grocery on your right (and, usually, a cop directring traffic). Turn right. You will pass Dispensa Familiar (Walmart), La Curacao and some hardware stores.
You should now be at the yellow bridge. Cross over, jog to the right and then left. I believe there is a sign there that says Santa Catarina. That will be your last serious driving decision until you are in San Antonio.
In about 4 km you come to Santa Catarina. The street is narrow. If there is a firewood truck there unloading you might need some patience but you will make it. The road then goes back up the hill and you continue winding along with a view of the lake. Another 5 km and you head down into San Antonio. It’s now time for your next decision.
The center of the village is up the hill and one would take the left fork to get there. To get to Casa Colonial, you want the right fork. It goes down a bit and into the “industrial center” of town. That means there is a hardware store and that’s about it. Right after the hardware store (at the soccer court) you jog a bit to the right and then back to the left. You are now at the main dock. This is where boats to San Lucas leave from.
Continue on the road which winds along the shore. It’s mostly paved and mostiy in excellent condition. You then start up a hill. In a few hundred meters you will see Casa Colonial on your left with a stone wall in front of it. (The building is up about 30 meters.) If you run out of pavement, you went to far as it stops right in front of us.
The road continues on to Agua Escondida. That part of the road climbs quite a bit and is dirt. Not recommended for “city cars”.
TukTuk from Panajachel
Expensive (by Guatemala standards) but pretty much available any time. The price is Q50 for as many people as you can squeeze in. Note that today a TukTuk driver tried to hit me up for Q75 (we agreed on Q60) so we will now recommend drivers.
- Sevicio de Mototaxi Ramaja: 6AM a 10PM; cel. 3325-8281 or 4390-7209
- More on the way …
Pickups from Panajachel
This is the most common option. OK, things change. They now leave from in front of that National Stadium. It is on the same street as La Dispensa but almost at the bridge across the river.
They leave from around the corner from Chalo’s Grocery regularly. The photo on the left shows the restaurant behind Chalo’s where they stop to pick up passengers. I took the photo from the back of a pickup that had just dropped off people from San Antonio in front of La Dispensa Familiar (how we spell WalMart here). Things change. The restaurant (far left) is gone, replaced by a shoe store.
The photo on the right is because pickups to Santa Catarina leave from the same place. If the women are dressed like the ones in the photo, it is the right pickup. You just climb in. The driver collects your fare (Q5) when you get out.
The end of the line is in the center of the pueblo. Its a reasonable walk from there to Casa Colonial. If you have a lot of luggage you could probably get the pickup driver to take you here for Q10-Q20 more or you could get off before the pickup goes up the hill and get a TukTuk.
He also said he and/or his friends can do local tours. Once I get that information, I will add it to another San Antonio page.
I need to add when the pickups first start running and when they stop but it is safe to assume that if it is light out they are running.
Launches to San Lucas
For lots of people here, their preference is to take a boat to San Lucas rather than a pickup to Panajachel when they need something that isn’t available in San Antonio. It’s about the same amount of time (around 30 minutes), the boat ride is really pretty and San Lucas is a lot less crowded than Pana (and pretty much Gringo-free).
They leave at regular intervals from the main dock (below the soccer field) and will also stop at the dock just down from Casa Colonial. They run regularly on Tuesday, Fridan and Sunday. On the other days you will find them in the early morning and late afternoon. The cost is Q7 on the small and medium ones, Q5 on the big one (Santa Maria).
If you plan is to buy a lot of stuff and bring it back, there are pickups that travel from San Lucas to San Antonio. As they come down the hill from Agua Escondida, it means they can let you off right in front of Casa Colonial. I have been told they only run until 1300 but need to verify this.
Buses to Most Anywhere
- There is a bus that leaves San Antonio for Guatemala City at 4AM.
- There is a bus that leaves San Antonio for Guatemala City at 6:30AM. (Usually — I have heard that sometimes it just doesn’t run.)
- The bus in the photo leaves Calle 41 in Guatemala City (the place where all west-bound buses leave from) at 0825 arriving in San Antonio a bit after 1200.
- This same bus leaves San Antonio for Guatemala City at 1415.
- There is a bus that leaves for Quetzaltenango (Xela) at about 0720, Monday through Saturday.
- All buses leave San Antonio from in front of the soccer field.
If you miss the 0825 bus from Guatemala City or it just doesn’t fit your schedule, don’t panic. The trip will be more complicated but there is no real problem.
The secret is to get to Los Encuentros and most of the buses from Calle 41 will get you there. For example, a bus to Quiche or Xela will do that. So, just ask for “Los Encuentros”. Once you get there, there is a bus to Sololá about every 10 minutes, and from Sololá, a bus to Panajachel every 10 minutes. (All the buses in Sololá leave from/arrive at various sides of the central park.) From Panajachel, take a pickup.
If your Spanish sucks, just remember the name of the destination and ask for it. For example, if you just look like a lost Gringo in Los Encuentros and say to almost anyone “So-lo-LA?”, they will point you in the right direction. If you are going the other way and arrive on a bus from Sololá it is likely that one or more people will be asking “Guate?” as lots of buses from Xela and other points further west stop in Los Encuentros looking for more riders.
In Guatemala City you can get to and from the Calle 41 buses on TransMetro, the semi-new bus system. (Green buses.) To get to Calle 41, take Transmetro orange line to the Santa Cecelia station. When you get off, go up the stairs, turn left and then down the stairs. At the bottom just continue along the sidewalk to the next corner (right before a bridge over a highway) and follow the sidewalk to the left. You are now on Calle 41 and will encounter the buses in about three blocks. Note that TransMetro costs Q1 which you must have as a coin.
More about TransMetro. These are new buses which run on reserved lanes on the public streets. All the stops have elevated platforms and are secure. The system is being expanded to, ultimately, replace the red buses which are old, yucky and generally unsafe.
If you have taken a bus into Guatemala City they don’t immediately return to Calle 41 so ask to be let off as close as possible to a TransMetro stop. Note that cabs are always an alternative. Fares vary from Q20 to about Q100 total (not per person) depending on your destination.
We work with a local who has a nice van and will shuttle you anywhere in Guatemala. Costs depend on where you are going but, for example, it is Q600 to or from the airport in Guatemala City. That is for your entire family or group.