Tajumulco Volcano
Tajumulco Volcano
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Xela, San Marcos 12001 Guatemala
Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.

55 reviews
Very good

Amsterdam, The Netherlands66 contributions
Keep in mind this hike is a doozy for anyone not yet acclimated to the altitude. It's not something I would recommend anyone doing their first weekend in Xela. However, if you do choose to go early in your trip, don't be a hero. Take your time and bring plenty of water (We each hiked up with about 5-6 litters a person).

While you can do this hike solo, I signed up with a group of friends to hike Tajumulco through Quetzaltrekkers. On day 1 we hiked about 4 hours to base camp where we set up camp, had lunch, and set up our tents. That evening we hiked to the top of Cerro Concepción and watched the sunset. It was unbelievable. We went to bed early and woke up about 4 am to hike to the summit of Tajumulco at sunrise. If you want to see the sunrise from the summit, keep in mind you will be doing all of your hiking in the dark. (I would recommend that everyone has a headlamp rather than a flashlight so that you can have your hands free for some of the steeper parts). You also need to keep in mind that it'll be pretty windy and cold at the top. Our group packed our sleeping bags and sleeping mats in our backpacks so stay warm as we watched the sunrise. Best decision we made of the trip!

Quetzaltrekkers provided all the camping supplies, food prep, and clothing for anyone that needed, it free of charge. The guides were fantastic and the organization was solid. If I were to do this hike again, I would for sure go through them.
Written March 3, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Mazatlan, Mexico335 contributions
This is a great hike and can be done solo in one day, round trip from Xela. Before we did this hike we looked on line for all the info we could get. It was easy enough to come by. We both felt that we could do it no problem on our own from the info we gathered. I noticed that tour companies camp out with their customers overnight to get everyone used to the elevation. These groups come from Xela, which is at quite an elevation to begin with. Also the trail head to the hike is at 10.000 feet. However take breaks and listen to your body should you go it alone. The trail is easy enough to follow. You can get up real early to catch a 5.00 am chicken bus to San Marcos. In San Marcos get bus for heading for the turnoff for the town of Tajumulco. The trail head is signed, and it is directly at the turnoff. That puts you on the trail head at no later than 8.30. If you are an avid hiker you can get to the top in under 3 hours. An hour of amazing views. With clear skies you can see Volcan Santa Maria. Also Tapachula, Mexico and Volcan Tacana are visible. Get to the top as soon as possible before clouds form. Descending will be 2 or 2.5 hours. The trail ends where the bus picks you up and you are back in San Marcos by 4 and on a bus to Xela. Get back to Xela by 6.
By all means, do a tour if that is your thing. We just feel we need to let others know how easy the logistics are. Dress warm. This is a great hike from top to bottom. Views are just great the whole way.
Written May 18, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Eugene F
Quetzaltenango, Guatemala20 contributions
I was in Quetzaltenango (Xela). I heard from others it was possible to do the hike with no guide.

Myself and 4 other random travellers decided to climb it on our own, and also travel to the site via public transport. Instead of paying 350-600Q for the trek, we paid... about 60-80Q perhaps. I also heard that even if you pay lots of money, you still go with uncomfortable public transport.

Travel to the volcano - 2.5 - 3 hours with public transport.
We woke up at 03:50. Met up at 4:20 in Xela. Took a taxi to the bus terminal in Xela at 4:40. Took a bus at 05:00 to San Marcos, to arrive at about 07:00. At San Marcos we took another bus to Tajumulco, to arrive at about 08:00.
Some 12 year old kid driving a pick-up track came over to try to charge us 20Q each for entrance. I told him I don't know who he was, and we dully began ascending.

The climb - 3 hours up at good pace. We were 5 men in our 20s, none of us overweight. Guided trips take 4-5 hours.
Views are amazing constantly. You start following a road, then you are treking/hiking uphill across woodland. Then at the end you scramble some rocks.

Hard hike, but totally worth it. The hike down the volcano took us 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Then we travelled back for 3 hours, to arrive back in Xela at... 6-7pm.

Cheap, tough, beautiful views - worth it.
Written February 10, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

New Orleans, LA36 contributions
I hiked this alone yesterday. I took a chicken bus from Xela (Calle 7a and 19 Avenida - which was closer to me, but I am told is also more safe than Minerva terminal) to San Marcos at 3:30pm Friday for 10Q (last bus leaves around 6pm). Took another chicken bus from San Marcos towards Tacana at 5pm. (I was told that the last chicken bus from San Marcos to Tacana is around 5 or 6pm, I think there may have been 1 or 2 more busses after the one I took). I paid 10Q and got off near Crucera Tajumulco and stayed at Hotel Villa Real (you can find it on Google Maps) about 100 yards from the start of the trek. Each room comes with 2 full beds, warm blankets, and a bathroom. I paid 50Q. The gentleman running the hotel is very nice and recommended to eat at the restaurant across the street. The meal I had at the restaurant was probably the best I will have in Guatemala - fried fish stuffed with jalopenos with fried shrimp, beans, rice, vegetables, etc. for 60Q (about $8, more expensive by Guatemalan standards, however, it was totally worth it, and the way the restaurant was decorated along with the middle-to-upper class Guatemalans eating there, most of whom drove and parked on their lot, makes it seem like a gourmet restaurant), however, the owner of the hotel usually asks for off-menu cheaper items (which I think you should be able to as well). Anyway, I would highly recommend the restaurant (especially for beers after the trek!).

I originally planned to start the trek around 2am for the sunrise. I even brought a headlamp and flashlight. After leaving the hotel and walking towards the trek, I decided to turn around and start in daylight. The reason is because I was alone and there are a ton of stray dogs in the area that kept barking and following me. The clouds also descend at night, and even with my flashlight, I could barely see through the fog. Without knowing exactly the path, I turned around and went back to my hotel room quite bummed, but when I did the trek in the morning, I was glad I made the decision to go during daylight.

At the start of the trek, there are two paths, one towards the Volcan and one towards Tajumulco (the city). Bare left and you will walk up a cobblestone path and past some houses (with more dogs). Once you get off the road into the hiking-only path, there are orange markers tied to trees and bushes to let you know you're going the right direction. That being said, there are multiple trails not too far apart with orange markers that will get you to where you need to go. The orange markers become sparser as you approach the flat part of the trail and can see Tajumulco in full view. The hardest part for me was the last summit to the top of Tajumulco, where you are semi-rock-climbing. That part took me almost two hours, and I realized that I took some tougher routes and when I finally reached the final stretch, I climbed up the wrong peak, lol. I do think that for this reason, a guide would have saved me a couple hours, but all in all, I did it alone! And you can, too!

On your way back, just wait for a chicken bus either at the Crucero Tajumulco or at the bottom of the restaurant towards San Marcos (only 5Q), and another 10Q from San Marcos to Xela. Enjoy!
Written February 12, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

New York City, NY3 contributions
This report will be useful if you are planning to summit Volcan Tajumulco solo. It was part of an incredible five-day hiking trip from New York in May.

I arrived into Guatemala City on the 1pm flight from Miami and took a taxi (70Q) to Fuente El Norte Bus Station. The coach left at 4.30 and arrived in Xela around 8.30pm.

I took a taxi (30Q) to my hostel, Casa El Calibri (30Q). You could probably walk but it was dark and I didn't want to risk it. The hostel is very quiet and basic but has a really helpful owner and speedy wifi. I had dinner (15Q) at an amazing family run cafeteria around the corner. If you are looking for something more happening, I hear Casa El Kiwi has a bar and a rooftop.

I got up at 6am to take a 10 minute microbus (5Q) to La Terminal and then another 1 hour microbus to Laguna Chicabal (10Q).

Although not the most spectacular of volcanos in the area, I chose Laguna Chicabal because it was on the way to Volcan Tajumulco and would help me get my hiking legs going. The entrance fee is 50Q for international visitors and should take around 2 hours from the trailhead to the top - but you should also leave time to visit the lake at the bottom of the crater. It's sacred to Mam-Mayans and you may see flower altars around the circumference of the lake.

I recommend starting all hikes in Guatemala as early as possible. Although days generally start clear, clouds tend to roll in around 9.30/10.30am during the rainy season (I was hiking at the end of May). I made it up just in time.

I then took two microbuses to San Marcos (10Q) and then a Chicken Bus (an old American school bus) from San Marcos to Tajumulco. It's probably better to stock up on supplies in San Marcos as Tajumulco is pretty rural. I stayed at Hotel Villa Real (50Q) because it's at the start of the trailhead. It's also conveniently right next to where the chicken bus stops. There's a restaurant across the road but be warned - no Wifi in either place! The hotel is basic but has hot showers and a super friendly owner. You also can't get closer to the trailhead if you tried!

There are tour groups who do the hike in two days, but I decided to go solo and summit in one day because I didn't fancy carrying heavy bags or camping overnight - especially during rainy season. That said, going with a tour group helps you get used to the altitude and you get to summit for sunrise. I had already acclimatised and saw the sunrise at the bottom of the ascent (which is already very high up) - so was happy to take the trade off! It was nice to set-off at 6am in the company another hiker who had the same idea as me.

The ascent is pretty straight forward - just follow the various orange, blue and white signs until you see 14 white crosses which will lead you to the summit. We were accompanied by a friendly dog all the way. The views are spectacular. I'm relatively fit and summited in three hours but my speedy hiking partner managed it in two!

We got back down by 11.30am (we spent quite a bit of time enjoying the views at the top!) and caught a 1pm chicken bus back to San Marcos (5Q) then another to Xela (5Q). We were back by 4pm and checked out the local market before dinner.

The next day I soaked my weary muscles at the hot springs (25Q) in nearby Almolonga. It's a 45 min chicken bus ride (5Q) from Xela towards Zunil. There's lots of 'banos' to choose from but they are all pretty much the same. I went for Banos El Recreo. It's super basic but you have your own room and could probably sneak in a few beers and candles if you were feeling fancy (I was happy with my podcast)! I could have opted for Fuentas Georginas - which is more tourist friendly - but it was another 10km away and only accessible by taxi (40Q) each way - then 60Q entrance fee. All I wanted was to soak in some hot water so basic was fine for me! I got the 14.30 Fuentes El Norte coach back to Guatemala City (there's also a quicker 2am option) ready for my flight the next day. Stayed at Hostel Theatre International because it's down the road from the Fuentes El Norte Terminal. Really good vibes here with a sociable courtyard and hot tub.

All in all, a great trip! Hope this is useful!
Written August 27, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Nick M
Halifax, Canada205 contributions
I just completed this hike yesterday with 4 friends. We decided to do it without a guide, and it was no problem. We are studying spanish in Xela (Quetzaltenango) and I was only there for 5 days before doing the hike, so i was more or less acclimated to a an above sea level altitude already. We left Xela at 3:00, took a bus to the Minerva Bus Terminal (consists of no less than 50 retired U.S school busses, referred to as 'chicken busses') and found one heading to San Marcos. This is not daunting, it is easy.

The ride to San Marcos was about 1.5-1.75 hours but it depends on the stops, if they need gas, etc. Be advised: there will be 3 people per seat eventually on the ride. From San Marcos, you get another chicken bus to Crucero Tajumulco. Or you can do what we did. We stayed overnight in the very nearby town of San Sebastien (60 Q for a room). We woke up early and got a cab to the trail head, you can also take the chicken busses if you want. It cost us each an extra 10Q for the 5 min cab ride.

The ascent took us about 3:15 and we toom roughly 10 short breaks. This was my hardest hike (i have never really done hikig or trekking, but am 25 and in good shape). Take no less than 2L of water and snacks (bananas are great, anything to help your muscles is good because you'll be sore). If you do it in the daytime like us, as long as there is no rain you should be good with 3 layers. Overnight would be quite cold and I wouldnt go without a good jacket, gloves, etc. Bring sunscreen! You will burn if you dont.

Other then that, the trail... I feel like it would be hard to get lost. It is fairly obvious where to go: follow the path most followed. There ARE shortcuts but why not experience the real hike? Isnt that the point?

Last but not least, enjoy the views! The tallest mountain in Central America... if you have the chance, DO IT.
Written March 13, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Leo T
34 contributions
First, I'll say that it's a terrific place to go, and if you like natural beauty and heights, you'll love this. I went on Jan 10/11 with a group led by QuetzalTrekkers (great organization). On Saturday we hiked to the camp site that is about 200 meters below the peak. We camped, then rose at 4:00am in order to reach the top for sunrise. It was a beautiful clear morning. To the east we viewed several volcanoes that would occasionally burp, producing vertical clouds that were illuminated to morning glows by the rising sun behind them.

It was cold! Below freezing with a strong, strong wind. Be prepared!

The unfortunate part was the campsite. By nightfall there were about 20 tents and probably 100+ people. Although this is posted as a protected area, many people chopped limbs from live trees in order to build campfires. People sang and shouted to each other all night long. They were having fun, and that's fine, but in the U.S. we are accustomed to hushed voices at a campsite after 9 or 10. Our neighbors continued chopping on a tree that was about 5 feet from our tent, all night long. They were still at it at 3:30am when we got up.

Soon, there were be no trees remaining there.

There's a lot of trash on the entire trail up. At the campsite, it's awful. It's a garbage dump - bottles, plastic bags, food wrappers, unused food simply discarded on the ground.

I rate the attraction as "poor" mainly to get attention. Maybe by raising awareness of this problem, somebody will do something. But, given the remoteness of the location, and the other priorities of the government, I am pessimistic.
Written January 25, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Valley Forge, PA397 contributions
Volcan Tajumulco is a stunningly beautiful hike that is doable for anyone in reasonably good hiking condition. The magnificent views start about 45 minutes into the hike and continue all the way to the summit. The trail itself starts out as a dirt road and slowly narrows to a single track trail after an hour or so and is also beautiful. Since others have written about the beauty of this trail I thought that instead I would provide some info that might be helpful in planning your climb.

1. Guide Service. A guide service is not necessary to do this hike. You can see the peak from the trailhead and the trail is easy to follow, except for the fact that at times the trail splits, but they always seem to merge together within a short distance. You will not get lost as long as you are paying attention. This being said I would still recommend using a guide service for 3 reasons.
1. A guide service can provide transport directly to the trailhead, and directly back to your hotel afterwards.
2. A good guide, I will recommend one later, can provide a lot of information on what you are seeing and points of interest along the trail. It can add a whole new dimension to your adventure.
3. Once you reach the summit you can cross over the top and hike down the other side of the mountain. This trail is more exposed than the one you ascended and is gorgeous but it would be difficult to navigate without a guide. After 45 minutes this trail eventually converges with the trail you used to ascend the mountain. This little diversion will add less than 15 minutes to your descent and is well worth it.

2. Arriving to Trailhead Options
1. Guide Service directly to trailhead
2. Public transportation. The trailhead is on the road. Buses or taxis etc. can leave you off and pick you up right at the trailhead.
Driving time from Pana in a van or taxi is 4+ hrs, Xela 2+ hrs and San Marcos 45 +/- minutes.

3. Hiking distance, elevation etc. The roundtrip hike is 8-10 miles (I could not get an exact measurement) with an elevation gain of 3720 ft. The trailhead elevation is 10,200 ft and the peak is 13,920 ft. There are no ups and downs on this trail. It is straight up to the top. There is one option to shorten the hike 1 mile each way and reduce the vertical ascent by 500 ft. The first mile or so of the trail is a dirt road and if your guide/ride has 4 wheel drive there is a small unmarked area to park.

4. Safety- This trail is safer than most near the tourist areas. We saw about 20+ people on the trail the day we hiked and all were Guatemalans. I think the thieves concentrate their activities where the tourists and their cameras, cell phones, and money are.

5. Camping. There is a campground about 2/3 of the way to the summit. It is a large flat area and good for pitching a tent but has no other facilities.

6. Water. There is no water along the trail. Make sure you carry all that you will need. I brought 2 liters and it was more than sufficient.

7. Altitude. This is the highest peak in all of Central America. Even the trailhead is high enough to cause altitude problems. Pace yourself accordingly.

8. Hiking times. A strong hiker with a 15 lb. +/- pack can reach the peak in 2 1/2 hrs and descend in 2 hrs. Most will take 3-4 1/2 hrs to ascend and 2 1/2- 3 1/2 hrs to descend.

9. Gear- It can be cold near the summit. Jacket, gloves, hat etc. will make for a much more pleasant lunch on the summit. At the same time the sun can be strong. I recommend a hat, cap, etc. with a brim and sunscreen.

10. Recommended Guide Service and Guide
I looked into two guide services that were recommended to me. The first was Quetzal Trackers. They have a good reputation and many of their clients were pleased with their service and with the price. What I personally did not like about their service was their lack of flexibility. They only do certain mountains on certain dates with a set itinerary etc. They cater to group hikes and you have to make your plans fit theirs. This is not a criticism of them, but it is not what I was looking for.
I used Monteverde Tours and was extremely impressed. The owner, Josh, and I worked out an itinerary that would work best for me. Josh picked me up in Antigua at 2 AM (He left Xela to get me at midnight). He was in Antigua on time. The van was comfortable and clean and he drove responsibly and gave me a lot of info on the trail and Guatemala. We met my guide in Xela at 4 AM. Carlos, my guide, drove me to the trail. He spoke English and had a lot of experience hiking in Guatemala and was a wealth of info for future adventures. On the trail he was a strong hiker but never rushed. He was always stopping to point out things for me to see. Carlos was a man who loved his work and he was a pleasure to be with the entire day. If you are looking for a trip planned to your desires, I believe Monteverde Tours is the best choice. I plan to use them, and specifically Carlos, again when I return to Guatamala.

In summary, this hike has the potential to be the highlight of your trip in Guatemala. I have hiked in many parts of the world and this experience ranked right up there with the best of them. Enjoy!
Written February 20, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Masala D
146 contributions
I chose to do the Tajumulco hike alone and in one day after studying a few detailed descriptions on the web. Happy I did it that way. Took the 5am bus from Xela (Quetzaltenango) to San Marcos. I advise you to book a taxi to go to the bus station unless you are a group because it's really dark and a bit dodgy all the way from center and especially in the just awakening market. After 2 hours you reach San Marcos where you can take another local bus (at the same spot) that will leave you 1 hour later at the beginning of the hike at the crossroads to the town of Tajumulco. It's steep, it's challenging, you get lost on the ridges, you find your way again, it's stunningly beautiful all the way, you meet friendly local families hiking the volcano too, and the last hour is just so hard. But then you're at the top, it's windy, you share whatever you have with the ones who did not bring food, and if you're lucky you have wonderful views. It was cloudy the day I did the hike but I have such a wonderful memory of it. I would not have liked to camp down the top because it's not nice and it's a bit dirty, plus the cold at night while you're just 1 hour to the top. But if you want to take your time and love camping, it might be a good idea. I saw people carrying their heavy camping gear to the camp and they all seemed about to collapse, because of altitude and weight. So travel light. What is funny is that I was not scared during the hike but I feared for my life on the bus back to Xela, which was almost flying.
Written July 20, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Indianapolis, IN111 contributions
Had a great hike up Tajumulco with Adrenalina Tours. Its not a tough route, but the altitude can be a challange. Amazing views from the top in the morning.
Written September 30, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Tajumulco Volcano (San Marcos) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go

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