Why you Should Visit Santa Catarina Palopó at Lake Atitlan

santa catarina guatemala

As an addition to the Working from Lake Atitlan Guatemala: Tips and Tricks post, I thought that Santa Catarina Palopó deserved it’s own dedicated information.

Santa Catarina Palopó – Best Photo Excursion

If you’re looking for that insta-perfect photo opportunity, check out Santa Catarina Polopo. An ambitious art project started in 2016 is turning this sleepy little village into a hotspot.

The mission: painting all 960 buildings clinging to its hillside in vibrant hues and symbols that recall the traditional handwoven huipil blouses worn by its women, handed down through generations.

I loved visiting here. You can see the pride and community empowerment resulting from this project. The former dirt pathways through the hillside village have been transformed to concrete pathways and it’s an enjoyable afternoon to walk through this village taking in the colors and symbolism of this mayan culture.

Symbols include Mayan-styled butterflies, corn, cats, and El Quetzal, the national bird, which symbolizes goodness and light; geometric patterns reference waves, the lake’s volcanos, hearts, and flowers.

The color pallet was chosen to represent the colors found locally in the textiles. The community is using lime-based paint that is environmentally friendly, fungicidal and protects buildings from humidity. With the help of the project’s main, local sponsors Cementos Progreso and Pinturas Volcán — local cement and painting companies — a paint brand has been created specifically for the project named “Palopó” with a standardized color palette.

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There are reported plans for an “adopt-a-house” model that would cost $500 to sponsor and give up to six travelers the opportunity to work hand in hand with—and get to know—the family whose house they’re helping paint over a weekend or afternoon. I couldn’t find any information on this specifically but One of the main project sponsors, Casa Palopo does offer an opportunity for their guests to get involved with a family creating these unique masterpieces.

santa catarina guatemalaYou can read more about this project by visiting the official website: Pintando     Santa Catarina Palopó.


Stop into the Tourist Information Center / Museum (near the church) for more information on the project. PLEASE consider giving a donation to help support the project.

There isn’t much in the vein of restaurants here but I can recommend stopping for a quick coffee at Cafe’ Tuk (also near the church).

Getting there

From Pana, it’s about a 15 min tuk-tuk ride to Santa Catarina. It cost Q50 each way for 2 people. There is not a lancha (boat) directly to Sant Catarina that I’m aware of (you could ask around – maybe if there is enough interest, they will start a route.)