Lake Atitlán (Lago de Atitlán) is a large endorheic lake (one that does not flow to the sea) in the Guatemalan Highlands. Atitlan is recognized to be the deepest lake in Central America with maximum depth about 340 meters. The lake is shaped by deep escarpments which surround it and by three volcanoes on its southern flank. Lake Atitlan is further characterized by towns and villages of the Maya people. Lake Atitlán is about 50 kilometres (31 mi) west-northwest of Antigua. Lake Atitlán should not be confused with Lake Amatitlán. Lake Amatitlán is located about 65 kilometres (40 mi) southeast of Lake Atitlán and 16 kilometres (10 mi) southeast of Antigua. Lake Atitlán is much larger than Lake Amatitlán.
"At the water" is the meaning of "Atitlan." It is a fusion of simple Nahuatl words that belies the complexity of the entity it identifies. German explorer Alexander von Humbolt is the earliest prominent foreigner generally quoted as calling it "the most beautiful lake in the world."
The lake is volcanic in origin, filling an enormous caldera formed in an eruption 84,000 years ago. It is renowned as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, and Aldous Huxley famously wrote of it: "Lake Como, it seems to me, touches on the limit of permissibly picturesque, but Atitlán is Como with additional embellishments of several immense volcanoes. It really is too much of a good thing."