The doctor had said to stay off my leg for 10 days or until the infection had healed. It had been about a week and although far from healed, it was finally beginning to show signs of improvement. The pain had subsided and it was looking better. All week long Guatemala’s San Pedro Volcano had been staring at me, asking me to ascend its mighty summit. Instead I followed the doc’s orders and spent our days paddling around and soaring over the area, rather than climbing up it. But it was time. Time to get back on my leg and accept Volcan San Pedro’s challenge.
The first volcano in Central America that we summited was also the tallest (Volcan Tajumulco) and it kicked our asses. We had heard mixed reviews about San Pedro with some saying it was an extremely tough and challenging hike. Given the condition of my leg and our prior near-fail climbing Tajumulco, I was hesitant and nervous about Volcan San Pedro, but it was time to give it a go.
You are supposedly required to hire a guide to take you up the dormant San Pedro volcano, and it’s a relatively small cost (~$13) so we abided and were curious as to who we may be hiking with. When we had done our prior ascent up Tajumulco, we had lagged behind the rest of the group, who all were younger, more fit, and longer acclimated to the altitude. So when we met our guide and discovered that the other two people coming with us up San Pedro were two women who were older than us, we were delighted. When we began hiking we were definitely on the same pace.
The first mile or so around the base of the volcano took us through all sorts of produce fields. We saw many coffee plants and even a few guys carefully picking each bean by hand, one by one.
We eventually made it up through areas of dead corn stalks. This was quite a ways up the mountain, so there are definitely no plows here. This must also be hand picked and carried all the way back down the mountain.
Eventually the trail grew steeper as the forest became denser. The trail was always very well maintained and even had proper steps at times. There were a number of tourist police present on the trail too who were all friendly. Tropical birds were lively if you kept a watchful eye (or ear) for them. Beyond the corn stalks it was mostly a cloud forest environment. The trees were all lush and tall, which there would be no more nice viewpoints of the lake until we reached the top.
After going strong for about three and a half hours, we made it! Hey, that wasn’t so bad at all. I guess we’re making progress. The views were outstanding and well worth the making the trek to the top.
For a while we were the only people up at the summit of the San Pedro Volcano. We were all in awe and inspiration of the panoramic views of the volcanoes, mountains, pueblos, and Lago Atitlan all below.
We hung out at the summit for nearly an hour and had some lunch, but it was finally time to go down. For some reason the trip down seemed steeper and longer than the trip up. Maybe we were just getting a little tired but everyone agreed.
After our experience with Tajumulco, this summit of Guatemala’s San Pedro volcano left us feeling vindicated. People had warned us of San Pedro’s challenge, but we tackled it with no problems at all. Granted San Pedro’s summit is at about the same height as the Tajumulco’s trailhead so there wasn’t much altitude sickness to deal with, which was our downfall before.
We didn’t find it to be the extreme challenge we feared, although we were exhausted that night and our legs were quite sore the next day. So perhaps it did take a small toll on us.
All in all, the San Pedro volcano summit was a great hike that we’d recommend to anyone visiting the Lago Atitlan area.
We really enjoyed San Pedro La Laguna and the entire Lake Atitlan area. There’s good restaurants, fun bars, a ton of recreation, and everything is of incredible value for the money! Its just one of those places where you can easily get comfortable and inadvertently extend your stay. We didn’t want to leave. San Pedro La Laguna remains as one of our top destinations throughout all of Central America and we highly recommend it.