Twist Travel Magazine Issue 002

Page 49

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LaLAKE PETÉN ITZÁ By Katja Gaskill

Arriving at La Lancha, a jungle hideaway on the banks of Guatemala’s Lake Petén Itzá, is an adventure in itself; this hotel is accessed by a 45-minute car ride from the airport, through the rainforest, along a bumpy dirt road, in the dark. But when you do arrive, you feel like you have walked onto a movie set. A tall, pitched, open air pavilion with a thatched roof sits at the heart of the property. Candles twinkle, the open fire pit roars, and the sky is thick with stars. If you’re lucky, you might even spot Francis Ford Coppola.

La Lancha is one of a handful of properties owned by the Coppola family, and while a meet-and-greet is not guaranteed, the family does stay here. Apparently this hotel is Francis’ favourite. It’s easy to see why. The hotel is home to ten bungalows that have been carved into the hillside, surrounded by dense foliage. Its hillside position means that there are a lot of steps here (some 200 from the main pavilion down to the lake) but also wonderful views; all rooms overlook the shimmering lake waters. The décor is very chic and showcases Guatemalan crafts. Colourful wooden masks hang on walls alongside delicately embroidered huipiles (the traditional garment worn by indigenous women of the region). The main reason that people come to La Lancha is to visit Tikal, the ancient Mayan civilization that lies deep in the Guatemalan jungle. The hotel offers guided tours to the ruins and, although pricey, are worth it as the guide is phenomenal. I would argue that the other reason to visit is for Lake Peten. The second largest lake in Guatemala, Peten is famous for its dramatic changes in color. Locals also believe that the fresh cool waters contain rejuvenating powers. Magic or not, the lake is wonderful for swimming as well as canoeing (the hotel has two for guests to use). A small pavilion offers shade as the kids jump in the water again and again.

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