One of the many outdoor activities you can partake in here in Lake Atitlan, Gautemala is hiking. I wanted to have a crack at Volcan San Pedro but have heard mixed reports on the difficulty level. Although I’m still here to put myself out of the comfort zone, I heard that the Indian Nose was a shorter hike but still challenging and steep in places so thought it would be a good starting point.
With my alarm clock waking me up at 3:30am to Horses, I was up and ready to go. After a short walk through the dark and eary alleyways of San Pedro I met the pickup van at the front of Big Foot travel and then we head off, picking up some fellow travellers along the way. Although it looks pretty close on Google maps, we drove slowly and steadily through San Juan and San Pablo on some sketchy looking roads, MORE speed humps along and also plenty of bends during the ascent that would make anybody with a weak stomach reach for the motion sickness pills. About 30 or so minutes later, we get to our destination near the town of Santa Marta where we commence the hike. Now it’s possible to hike from the base at San Juan which takes up to 3 hours but we wanted to catch the sunrise, hence commencing the hike from ‘The Neck’.
The hike started with a fairly easy walk through corn fields. It was still dark so our head lamps were fixed on the narrow trail. At half way we hit the steep terrain with some parts being quite challenging but not of any significant length to do too much knee damage. After about 30-40mins and a couple of rest stops we were at the top and greeted by an array of colours that changed quickly within the first hour. Purples, pinks, oranges and then blues. We got pretty lucky with the weather as it was clear producing some sharp looking and varying landscape photos below.
I’d highly recommend this hike to anybody who comes to San Pedro. Despite an early start, it’s the only way to take in the enormity and beauty of the lake and surrounding landscapes when the air is clearest so that you can see right across the lake. It only cost Q$100 ($14) for the experience including the transportation, park entry fees and a guide. Make sure you bring water, something to eat and also some warm clothing for when you get to the top.
Some people look at doing it themselves, but they will still need to find their way there, find the entrance and also the trails which are not well sign posted. There is also talk of bandit(os) who are well organised and rob unsuspecting hikers. Although guides wont necessarily keep you 100% safe, a guy with a big Mick Dundee style knife would certainly add some dissuasion to any potential robberies. If that fails, use your camera tripod to beat them away*
*JimmyEatsWorld cannot claim responsibility for your safety in the event if it things to go to shit.
So my friends. What are your favourite local or international walking/hiking trails? What other places should I be looking out for in Central and South America?