King's view of Lake Atitlan
The most accessible volcano near Lake Atitlan is San Pedro (3,020 m asl) monumentally towering above the town with the same name. The ascent to volcano through the wet jungle is pretty exhausting. Fortunately, it is spiced with a beautiful top view of the guatemalan volcanoes ridges and azure lake Atitlan deep down. You do not have to be very lucky to see a volcano smoking on the horizon.
The path through the jungle
It is ideal to start the ascent to San Pedro early in the morning because of the clear sky without clouds and lower temperatures. The locals also recommend going without any valuable things, since the local hills are said to be „swarming“ with los banditos. Thus it is also better to have a local guide. The basis of the ascent is the town of San Pedro (1,570 m asl), where you can pay a tuk tuk that takes you to the entrance building of the park (1820 m asl). This will save you about 250 vertical meters of boring walk along the road. Here, every tourist shall register in the guestbook. There you can see that there are only 10–15 visitors a day – which means there are no crowds at all.
At the beginning you ascent through coffee plantations. Then begins the right mountain jungle – unfortunately without views of the country. So the tourist must admire only the local vegetation.
The first proper view of Atitlan
Finally comes the perfect snack place with a parade view of an ancient volcano caldera filled with water from lake Atitlan. The town of San Pedro is already far below us. This view boldly competes the view from the top.
View from the top of the volcano San Ped
Finally on the top! Definitely the best view is here to the east – bay with the town of Santiago Atitlan, behind which rises the highest volcano in the neighborhood – Atitlan Volcano (3535 m asl) and next to it lower Toliman with two tops (3 158m asl). The top is not a plateau, but small rocks.
View of Atitlan and Toliman volcanos
In the background you can occasionally see small explosions accompanied with a cloud of smoke coming from a very active volcano Fuego
Guide Pedro makes the bandit
The descent back down along the same path seems endless. But for example local guide imitating local bandit may entertain you :-)
View behind caldera during the descent
The clouds are rising over time, so early start of the ascent is really meaningful. Count at least with half a day for the trip.
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