We left the lovely little tiny house in Xela after a relaxing night and only had about 49 miles to drive to our next destination on Lake Atitlan, but because of the landscape and road conditions it took a little over 2 hours. The majority of the drive was on a smooth highway, but as you get closer and closer to the lake the roads are unpaved for the most part and they get much bumpier. Luckily we wouldn’t be driving anywhere for the next ten days and could let the Suba rest.
In Tzununa we would be staying on a lovely property called the Seed Habitat. It took me a loooong time to figure out where we should stay along the lake as we wanted to have access to all the things there are to do, but also wanted to be able to relax and settle down for a few days since we had been on the road for over a month now. I searched for hours on Airbnb, VRBO and various other booking sites. I also looked on Google maps to see where there was vegan food we could eat in case we didn’t want to cook every day and then after a few days of scouring every site I came across the Seed Habitat’s property in the town of Tzununa. It seemed like the ideal situation.
Tzununa is a quiet and small village with two permaculture farms, a few places to do yoga (The Seed Habitat, Love Probiotics, Doron Yoga), an open air market on Saturdays with tons of fruits and veggies, a handful of hotel style properties and is home to Love Probiotics, a small batch Kombucha distributor in Guatemala. Tzununa is also walkable to San Marcos which is a busier town and there is access to trails and the lanchas (boats) that take you to other towns alongside the lake such as the much busier Panajachel.
When I saw that Tzununa was home to two permaculture farms I knew this was the place for us to go since the original purpose of this trip was to make it down to Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica for a two week intensive permaculture course. I was superrr excited.
We arrived at the Seed Habitat in Tzununa early in the afternoon and were greeted by our friend Garrett who would be joining us for this leg of the trip. We parked our car within the property and started the hike up the path to the house we’d be staying in. When we got up to the top our jaws pretty much dropped. The house was gorgeous. The pictures we had seen didn’t do it justice. It was also huuuge. The house sleeps 10-12 people, but since we were only 3 and would only be using 2 bedrooms, we were able to get a special rate ($135/night). It was still a bit of a splurge according to our budget, but we had been pretty responsible so far and we knew we would be cooking a lot in the coming days and not driving (gas money) for the duration of our stay which would even out our expenses. When you’re on the road for long periods of time it’s also nice to be able to settle down in a comfortable place and be able to rest. Sleep and home cooked meals are vital to our health!
We stayed in Tzununa for ten days, so I’ll give you guys the highlights instead of boring you with the day to day 🙂
I’ll start with one of our favorite places to visit in Tzununa, a hotel and restaurant called Maya Moon Lodge. We loved Maya Moon Lodge for many reasons. The food was delicious and they provide many vegan options, the staff was friendly and welcoming AND they have their own private dock with access to the lake so you can spend the entire day lounging in a hammock, swimming in the lake and eating yummy food. I don’t drink, but Keith and Garrett had maaany beers. They also have guest rooms, so if we weren’t staying in a house this is definitely a place I would have enjoyed staying at.
Another favorite thing about Tzununa was that even though it is a very small town (maybe the smallest along the lake) there are things to do. Granja Tz’ikin which is one of the permaculture farms in the town has a restaurant and bar on their property. I believe they are open most days and on Friday evenings they host a pizza night with live music. Everything is outdoors as well, so you can put your covid anxiety at ease. The pizza is delicious and they have a few different vegan pies. They also serve kombucha from Love Probiotics which is brewed right across the street. I believe Love Probiotics also makes the pizzas served on Friday nights. I love the set up they have going. Coming from a city like New York, it’s such a treat to be able to walk on to a farm surrounded by nature and wildlife and have dinner made from ingredients you can see that were just picked. Granja Tz’ikin also offers an intensive month long permaculture course. Something I plan on looking into for the future.
I loved the vibe at Granja Tz’ikin. The only downside was they didn’t sell their produce as they used it for their restaurants, but luckily just up the road there is another permaculture farm called Atitlan Organics! They also offer a permaculture course, but it had been put on hold because of COVID. They were however selling their produce, so I was able to get a bunch of greens and veggies to keep at the house for cooking our own meals.
Love Probiotics was also essential to us as they not only make kombucha, but they make hot sauces like passionfruit habanero, anddd bake their own sourdough fresh every morning. So between the farms, Love Probiotics, the few little shops in town and the open air market on Saturdays we were stocked with groceries.
One of my favorite fruits is mamey and I was able to find it at the market. Mamey Sapote is light brown on the outside and when you open up the fruit it has a huge pit surrounded by a soft bright orange flesh. It’s delicious blended up with frozen bananas, oat milk and a splash of vanilla. The flesh of the matey is a very thick rich and soft consistency, so when blended with a banana you get a very decadent ice cream texture. My mouth is currently watering.
We spent the majority of our days in Tzununa walking around the town and checking out trails to neighboring towns or to view points. One of the things I loved about Tzununa is that everywhere you went was a bit of a hike. It’s definitely something you want to consider if you’re not in the best shape, because the town is also at around 5400 ft elevation and the sun is verrry strong. Luckily Tzununa is small so nowhere was more than a 15-20 minute walk and you can also walk to San Marcos within 35 minutes. There is also a waterfall hike you can do, but we were there in March during the height of dry season so there was no water flowing during our stay.
San Marcos is a neighboring town, which is much busier. To be totally honest I didn’t enjoy it as much. Not because it was busier, but because there were so many white “spiritual” people being completely disrespectful of the fact that there was a pandemic going on. We walked over there one day and the amount of non-Guatemalan/Mayan people walking into stores without bothering to put a mask on made me upset. I think if you’re going to travel during a pandemic you should respect the health of the communities you’re visiting. It was still a nice time though and there are a few natural stores in San Marcos that sell vegan products, so I picked up some plant based milks and vegan baked goods. We had lunch and walked around the town and walked back to Tzununa.
When we were in San Marcos we also inquired about doing a guided hike up San Pedro Volcano, a stratovolcano that you’ll see in many of the shots in my video of our time in Tzununa. Unfortunately every guide we talked to told us they would only be willing to take us 1/4 or 1/2 of the way up because there were bandits higher up along the trail that were robbing people. We didn’t want to take the risk and since pretty much every walk we went on was a hike, we weren’t necessarily seeking the physical challenge as we had another big one coming up that I’ll save for the next post. The views would have been incredible though and I slightly regret not doing it, but oh well.
Our time in Tzununa was the longest stay of any we had on the trip so far, but it went by so fast and before we knew it, it was time to head to our next stop… Antigua!
I loved Tzununa and I think about the spectacular 360 views of the lake and the volcanoes all the time. I’m hoping we’ll visit again one day. I would 100% go back to Tzununa.
Miles driven: 4,004
Days on the road: 34-44
Next stop: Antigua