I tend to max out my vacations, with a lot less of the “hang out and relax” and a lot more of the “hike this mountain! explore this national park! spend the day in these 12 museums!” While we were planning our five-year anniversary trip (and the first proper vacation we’ve taken since our honeymoon) I tried REALLY hard to maximize the relaxing part and minimize the 12 museums part. But, I was hoping we could visit Guatemala for a few days after spending most of the week in Belize. After some research on transportation and talking to Erica about a similar itinerary she took a few years ago, we decided to spend a few days in northeast Guatemala and I immediately booked our room at La Lancha Hideaway on Lake Petén Itzá, per Erica’s recommendation. This was, hands down, the best recommendation I have ever received in my entire live-long life. The two days we spent here are what swoony travel dreams are made of; the meals were some of the best I’ve ever eaten, the rooms were large and perfectly appointed, and the staff was friendly, kind, and went out of their way to ensure we had a lovely time.
This is our little hacienda, the photos I took of the inside were somehow corrupted (I’m blaming the humidity…and maybe also the bugs?), but you can check out the interior spaces on their website. It’s a mix of modern furniture and antiques from Central America and Bali, with the most glorious textiles, an enormous luxury bathroom, and amenities up the wazoo. Seriously, the wazoo.
You better believe that I spent some seriously quality time in this hammock with a book and a cold drink. I need more hammocks in my life. It was way hot while we were there, over 100 F plus 80-90% humidity, and we managed to be right in the middle of the burning season, the fires left a low white smoke over everything, not quite enough to sting your eyes, but enough to irritate your throat after a few hours. Visibility was really low, we could hardly see the lake, let alone the jungle on the other side. So, that was pretty disappointing, but truly the only real downside of our stay at La Lancha.
La Lancha’s open-air dining room, which, if there wasn’t so much haze from the fires, would give you a beautiful view of Lake Petén Itzá. This space is built like the traditional Maya huts, soaring ceiling of branches and thatch supported by columns in the corners. We ate our breakfasts and dinners here, and I have never been happier with patio dining.
Blue Eyes and I wandered all around the property, I’m glad we chose the room we did, it was a little more out-of-the-way and the chances of lost, nosey tourists clomping across our front porch was highly unlikely. (We didn’t clomp, we very carefully tiptoed and honestly didn’t see anyone in our wanderings. Aside from the packed dining room in the evenings, it honestly felt like no one else was staying here.)
After a VERY hot and sweaty day at Tikal National Park, a dip in this cool, clear pool was so glorious! Blue Eyes and I “swam” laps for almost an hour. Ok, we slowly floated, moving just enough not to sink and not enough to exert any real effort.
La Lancha has canoes you can borrow to go paddling on the lake, but the wind was pretty strong and after sweating all day in the heat, the last thing we wanted to do was sweat some more. The air was so hazey and the smoke smell was so strong (plus, it was still 100-ish degrees and humid), we opted for the cool water of the swimming pool instead of the lake.
I dream of La Lancha, I would go back there in a half-minute. The two days we spent there were, easily, the most relaxing vacation days of my entire life. If we’d had more time I would have liked to check out the little town of Flores and Santa Elena, and visited some additional ruins. I can see myself going back to La Lancha, so perhaps some more exploring in Guatemala is in my future!