La Iguana Perdida is one of the most beautiful and chill hostels that I have ever stayed at. Located in the serene and traditional Mayan village of Santa Cruz La Laguna on the shoreline of Guatemala’s Lake Atitlan, La Iguana Perdida was the perfect place to relax, socialize with other travelers, and simply admire the breathtaking natural landscapes of lush jungle-covered mountains, the lake, and volcanoes.
This hostel is a popular place for backpackers to stay on the lake and they had communal home-cooked dinners by candlelight every night (always with a vegetarian option), funky decor, comfortable and cozy hangout areas, beautiful lake and volcano views from the outdoor balcony, a charming and friendly atmosphere, and there was no Wi-Fi which created a more social and open vibe.
I stayed at La Iguana Perdida for one night during my travels in Guatemala, but wish I had stayed for longer, as I absolutely fell in love this place!
Santa Cruz La Laguna was my favourite village on Lake Atitlan. This village was one of the most secluded and traditional of all the lakeside towns. It had no road access and could only be reached via one of the public boats that cross the lake constantly throughout the day. The village itself was perched up high along the side of a lush and jungle-covered mountain with stunning scenery surrounding it and the hostel was situated on the lakeshore, right beside the boat dock and was separate from the village. The local villagers in Santa Cruz were so friendly and welcoming and it was such a joy to wander this small but peaceful village to experience the daily life of the locals. Santa Cruz is very small and remains largely untouched by tourism and is the perfect place to visit if you are seeking an authentic Mayan village experience, breathtaking natural scenery, serenity and relaxation. There are also a number of activities and things to do in and around Santa Cruz like diving (La Iguana Perdida is home to ATI Divers, which is the lake’s only dive shop), yoga, kayaking, weaving, Spanish classes, massages, hiking, or simply relaxing in a hammock and doing nothing except admiring the stunning natural beauty all around you. Click here to read more about the various activities that you can do in and around Santa Cruz.
La Iguana Perdida is a funky, charming, comfortable and laid-back hostel located in one of the most beautiful and peaceful Mayan villages on Lake Atitlan. There are amazing views of the spectacular scenery with tall jungle-covered mountains, volcanoes and the tranquil lake. If you are looking for a truly relaxing and authentic experience, La Iguana Perdida is THE place to stay on Lake Atitlan.
Here is my full review of La Iguana Perdida. I hope you enjoy!
Dates: November 14 to November 15, 2016 (one night)
Room: I stayed in a private room called Nanook.
La Iguana Perdida is a comfortable, funky, laid-back, welcoming and charming hostel located in the serene and secluded village of Santa Cruz La Laguna on the shorelines of Guatemala’s Lake Atitlan.
Surrounded by such incredibly beautiful and breathtaking scenery, La Iguana Perdida is the ideal place to stay if you are seeking tranquility and relaxation in an authentic and off-the-beaten-tourist-path Mayan village.
La Iguana Perdida is situated directly on the north shoreline of Lake Atitlan to the right of the dock upon arriving in Santa Cruz La Laguna. From the hostel, the main village is located about a ten-minute walk along a very steep street with a series of switchbacks up the mountainside. The walk to the village was challenging but so rewarding with such gorgeous natural surroundings all around you. If you don’t feel like hiking this steep incline, you can also take a tuk-tuk from the dock beside the hostel up to the village.
The hostel is surrounded by stunning natural landscapes of mountains and tropical jungle and offers the most amazing and beautiful views of the peaceful lake and three volcanoes. The atmosphere at the hostel and everywhere in Santa Cruz was very quiet, pleasant and serene.
Santa Cruz is located only a 15-minute boat ride from Panajachel, which is the most popular arrival point for tourists and the town offers lots of tourist services, restaurants, shopping and more (although it is very busy and crowded and wasn’t my cup of tea). You can arrive in Santa Cruz from any of the villages around the lake via the public boats which operate all day long.
Arrival and First Impressions
Santa Cruz La Laguna was my third stop on Lake Atitlan, after spending three nights in San Marcos La Laguna (read my review for Circles Hostel here) and three nights in San Pedro La Laguna (check out my review for Luna Azul Bed & Breakfast here).
I took a boat from San Pedro to Santa Cruz and arrived to the village’s small dock after about 30 minutes. The hostel was visible from the lake and was situated just to the right of the dock along the shoreline. The location was so perfect and stunning! I was welcomed into the hostel by a friendly young staff member inside the main building and was given a full tour of the place and shown to my room.
The hostel property consisted of a main building where you could find the restaurant, computer room and lounge; a large patio beside the main building with hammocks for relaxing and beautiful views overlooking the lake; and a bunch of smaller buildings housing the dorms and private rooms scattered throughout the property behind the main building and hidden among dense foliage and tropical trees and plants, connected by narrow footpaths. The entire hostel was also surrounded by such gorgeous tropical vegetation. It was absolutely lovely and I was impressed by everything at the hostel!
La Iguana Perdida offers some wonderful amenities for travelers including:
- On-Site Restaurant with Delicious Healthy Food Options – There is a restaurant at the hostel that serves a fantastic variety of breakfasts and lunches. They are open from 8 am to 3 pm.
- Lounge and Library – There is a small lounge with books, musical instruments, a television, and comfortable chairs and couches for relaxing.
- Communal Dinners by Candlelight – Every evening, the hostel serves a scrumptious three-course meal featuring a soup, hot main course and dessert for Q65. Everyone eats at communal tables by candlelight and it is a great time to meet other travelers and make friends.
- Patio with Hammocks – There is a large patio with hammocks overlooking the beauty of the lake and the volcanoes and it is a beautiful spot to chill and relax.
- Welcoming, Laid-Back and Friendly Atmosphere – I loved the vibe at this hostel. All of the staff and guests were so friendly and I felt welcomed immediately upon arriving.
- Computer Room – There is no Wi-Fi at this hostel but they do offer a small computer room with an internet connection where you can keep in touch with family and book your onward travels for a small fee.
I decided to treat myself and stayed in one of the hostel’s luxury private rooms which was named Nanook. The hostel offers a variety of different room options to fit anyone’s budget from simple to luxurious (click on the bolded link to view more details about the room choices). They have seven rooms with a private bathroom and balcony; one rustic cabana with private bathroom; several single/double rooms with shared bathroom; and three dorms with seven to eight beds.
From the main building, a curvy footpath meandered through the beautiful jungle foliage and led to a small two-story rustic building surrounded by trees. My room was situated up the wooden stairs on the second floor.
My room was comfortable and spacious and it had a rustic yet charming feel. There was a double bed and single bed, nightstands with lamps, a couple of windows looking out to the lush tropical vegetation outdoors, a wooden dresser and chair, a balcony with colourful chairs for relaxing and a private bathroom. There was no internet or television in the room. I loved the colourful textiles and wall colours in the room!
Staying in this room was an amazing and relaxing experience and my only regret was not having enough time to stay longer. I enjoyed the peace and quiet in the evenings and simply laying in bed, reading and listening to the sounds of the jungle directly outside my window.
The washroom had a stand-up shower with raging hot water (very rare to find in Guatemala), sink and toilet. There was a glass jug with cold purified water and a couple of glasses inside the room and I liked how they encouraged zero waste by not providing just a small plastic water bottle to stuff your garbage into, instead of a trash can in the room (as there is no garbage removal service in Santa Cruz). There was a binder in the room with tonnes of detailed information about things to do in Santa Cruz and other useful things to know about the area and the hostel. This was very helpful!
The various dorms and private rooms were situated in small buildings throughout the hostel’s property, with gorgeous lush green vegetation growing between them. The natural jungle setting surrounding my room was so beautiful and I loved waking up to the sound of birds and insects chirping, smelling the fresh air and feeling a cool breeze through my window.
The grounds at the hostel were beautifully manicured with lots of lush tropical plants in a natural jungle setting.
The hostel had a few common areas situated both inside the main building and outdoors. The main building housed a small lounge area where there were comfortable couches for sitting, musical instruments, a TV, fireplace, board games, and a library with lots of books. It was a cozy and quiet place to relax and I enjoyed finding some good books to read there in the evening.
Outside the main building, there was a large patio with some hammocks and colourfully painted chairs for sitting and relaxing. The patio provided amazing views overlooking the lake and towering volcanoes and it was a fantastic place to chill and maybe even take a nap.
Atmosphere and Vibe
The hostel had a friendly, charming, relaxed and peaceful vibe. It was very comfortable and it had a great social atmosphere, which I think was in part due to the fact that there was no Wi-Fi available at the hostel, so people were more likely to strike up a conversation with each other.
I loved the communal dinners that they had every evening and it was a great time to meet other guests.
Restaurant and Food
The hostel had an on-site restaurant and bar located in the main building. There were tables inside and more seating outdoors on a patio area in front of the building which had stunning views of the lake. This was such a peaceful and beautiful place to enjoy breakfast in the morning.
The restaurant had an extensive menu featuring lots of healthy options for breakfast and lunch (with reasonable prices) and they were open from 8 am until 3 pm daily. In the evenings, the hostel had communal dinners served at 7 pm which guests could choose to participate in or not (make sure to sign up for the dinner before 3 pm to make sure you’re on the list). The cost for the three-course dinner was Q65 which was a great deal and I would recommend eating at the hostel as there were few other restaurant options in Santa Cruz (the hotel across the street from the hostel had a small restaurant and there was another place up the hill in the actual village but they closed in the afternoons). The dinners were different every night and consisted of a soup, hot main course and dessert and they always included a vegetarian option for each. During my evening at the hostel, they served a delicious stir fry which was sooo tasty! We all ate together at long tables inside the restaurant by candle-light. The atmosphere was great and these dinners were a fantastic time to meet other guests and enjoy good conversations.
For breakfast, I enjoyed the yogurt, granola and fruit bowl with a freshly squeezed juice.
Internet and Wi-Fi
There was no Wi-Fi available at this hostel, which initially I wasn’t sure that I would like. But after staying there, I was so glad that I booked it anyways. I didn’t even miss Wi-Fi and it felt amazing to disconnect and just socialize with other people and enjoy the incredible scenery. My cell phone did still got service at the hostel and I was able to keep in touch with my family using my unlimited international texting plan.
If you need to use the internet during your stay, there is a small computer room in the hostel’s main building with internet access for a small fee. The hotel across the street from La Iguana Perdida also offered Wi-Fi if you spent more than a certain amount at their restaurant, which is another option.
The staff at this hostel were super friendly and chill people. I felt welcomed immediately upon arriving and had positive experiences each time I interacted with the staff throughout my short stay.
Safety and Security
I felt very safe at this hostel both day and night as a solo traveler.
I was given a key for my private room after checking in which made me feel secure in my room. I had no issues walking the streets in the main village of Santa Cruz up on the mountainside during the daytime and found the locals to be very gracious, charming and kind. I didn’t go into the village after dark and probably wouldn’t recommend doing so alone, as there would be nothing to see at that time and the road leading up there would likely be deserted.
I had an amazing one-night stay at La Iguana Perdida and cannot wait until I return to Guatemala and can stay here again, but next time for longer! This place was amazing and I loved everything about it. The communal dinners were delicious; the staff and guests were friendly and sociable; the natural jungle atmosphere and setting was beautiful; and the views of the lake and volcanoes were stunning.
If you are looking for a charming, social, and relaxed hostel in an authentic and secluded Mayan village with breathtaking views to admire and a tranquil atmosphere, then La Iguana Perdida is the perfect place for you to stay. La Iguana Perdida is a great place for all types of travelers and on any budget.
Location – To the right of the dock in Santa Cruz La Laguna on Guatemala’s Lake Atitlan.
Phone Number – (502) 5706-4117
Email – info (at) laiguanaperdida (dot) com (You can also send them a message through their contact form on their website here)
Rates – Dorm beds start at $7 nightly with private rooms and cabanas costing more. You can view all prices here.
Other Things to Note – Check-out is at 11 am. They do accept credit cards at the hostel.
Ready to Book Your Stay?
To book your stay at La Iguana Perdida, either send them an email at the address listed above or fill out the contact form on their website by clicking here.
Have you been to Lake Atitlan? Where did you stay and would you recommend it? What was your favourite thing to do there?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!