We visited the Laguna Lodge Reserve in January 2008 for the first time. We have recorded over 100 bird species during several subsequent visits until May 2009, of which nine are endemics of the North Central American Highlands, including the elusive Belted Flycatcher. The secondary scrub and the forest are accessible on small foot paths, which in some sections are not yet easy to walk. Species observed during at least 4 of our 5 visits include the following birds restricted to the Madrean Highlands: Rufous Sabrewing, Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireo, Greater Pewee, Buff-breasted Flycatcher, Bushy-crested Jay, Black-capped Swallow, Brown-backed Solitaire, Blue-and-White Mockingbird, and Prevost's Ground-Sparrow.
In the near surroundings of the lodge we have often seen Rufous Sabrewing, Black-vented Oriole, Greater Pewee, Black Phoebe, Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush, and Blue-and-White Mockingbird. From the balcony of our suite we observed at night several times a Great Horned Owl perched on trees on the lake shore.
Inaugurated in December 2008, Laguna Lodge Eco-Resort is a boutique hotel with truly remarkable qualities. Mayah & Jeffro, the owners, set a great value upon a consistent sustainable use of natural resources and an environmental friendly operation of Laguna Lodge. The lodge is built to a large extent with local materials; walls are made of locally handcrafted adobe bricks, and roofs are thatched with palm leafs. Only organic cleaning and cosmetic products are used. Chef Raul creates delicious vegetarian dishes using only organically grown vegetables. Many of them come from the lodge's own vegetable garden, and others are bought from farmers of San Lucas Toliman. Jobs are provided to a local staff hired from several towns from around the lake.
After a day of birding, Laguna Lodge invites to relax in the lounge, the restaurant bar, and the suites, all of which have a breath-taking view over Lake Atitlan. The suites are so cozy that soon you feel at home. The tranquility at night is comparable with only few places in Guatemala. The gentle whispering of the waves was the only noise entering the suite where we stayed. The rooms are equipped with a king-size bed, stylish antique furniture from the Guatemalan highlands, and a thoughtful designed lighting. The tasteful design also dominates the noble bathroom. A glass front separates the room from the balcony, which offers views over the lake to the volcanoes San Pedro and Toliman. At night only the clusters of lights reveal the location of the small towns 10 km away on the southern shore. The early mornings are quite mystic at Laguna Lodge, the air is still free of any motor boat noise. Local fishermen from Santa Cruz work their way along the shore in their kayaks. The crystal water allows to observe schools of fish hiding under the peer.
Laguna Lodge is located about 15 min. away from Panajachel by boat. It offers a number of services, including kayaking, rock climbing, cliff jumping, whirl pool, massages, and day tours to nearby destinations.
Knut Eisermann & Claudia Avendaño