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Volcan San Pedro

305 Reviews

Volcan San Pedro

305 Reviews
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Real Mayan Culture- Visit three different villages around lake atitlan
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Real Mayan Culture- Visit three different villages around lake atitlan

3 reviews
Get a taste of lakeside culture with this visit to three Maya villages around Lake Atitlan. Despite their proximity, each has its own distinct spirit. Learn about the unusual deity of Santiago Atitlan, admire the murals and handicrafts of San Juan la Laguna, and discover how contemporary and traditional life intersect in the lively streets of Panajachel.
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Brian wrote a review Mar 2021
New York City, New York7 contributions10 helpful votes
Volcan San Pedro is a good, strenuous hike that is worth the effort. My review/expeirence is from during the pandemic and will likely not apply for later times and is designed for people who want to do the hike without a guide. I have been up to the top 3 times (and a couple of times to the lower miradors) during the months of February and March 2021. (DRY SEASON). The Different Thing about doing San Pedro during the pandemic is that it appears to be officially closed. There is no locked gate or anything, but the kiosks and ticketing to get onto the trailhead are without personnel. This means that I have never paid an entrance fee, which in normal times is Q100 for foreigners (about USD$15). There are also very few people on the trail. One time I went up and saw no one else at all in my entire 6 hour hike. (But other times I have seen guided and unguided groups.) I have had the top of the volcano to myself each time I have gone up - a very different experience from the crowded peak at Indian Nose across the lake. There seems to be a significant amount of misinformation going around about doing the San Pedro Hike: Misinformation (1): You must have a guide to go with you, or it is very difficult to do without a guide. This is false. Misinformation (2): You still have to pay the entrance fee, even though there is no one to take the payment. If there is a way to pay for the entrance during the pandemic, I have not figured out how to do so and no one has been able to direct me as to how one would even go about doing this. Misinformation (3): the trail is crawling with robbers. This appears to have been true around 2019 but no longer. Many locals have recommended I not do this hike without a guide for fear of robbers. But when I ask them if they know of any recent robberies, or know anyone who has been robbed, they are never specific, never like, "oh yeah there were some last year!" The "robbers" thing is also said about the trails between the villages on the other side of the lake (like between Tzununa and Santa Cruz) but foreigners walk those trails all the time (locals seem to always take the boats) so I generally believe the threat of robbery is somewhat real, but overblown. Proceed at your own risk. Groups are safer of course. Getting to Trail: The trailhead is easy to find and is about a 45 minute walk or 10 minute/Q20 tuk-tuk ride from the San Pedro Panajachel dock, up through town and onto the highway. The trailhead is by a building and in front of the building is a sign saying what your elevation is at the start of the trail (among other things and signs). On google maps type in "Volcan San Pedro Trailhead" and it will pop up. It is on the left side of the highway (when you are going up). On your way up you will pass two restaurant/mirador places maybe a half mile before you hit the trailhead building. Tuk Tuk drivers know where it is, you can just tell them "volcan san pedro". One of the things about going without a guide is that if you want to go early you will probably have to walk to the trailhead yourself without a tuk tuk, as they can be hard to find before about 7 am. Maybe you can arrange with one to pick you up earlier if you want. When I have hiked it myself starting at 5 or 6 am I just walk up to the trailhead. It's pretty steep, enjoy. Trail itself: The trail is well marked. The first hour or so of the trail goes through a bunch of coffee fields, and people work in these fields (they are not robbers). There are trails for the coffee people that are not the Volcan trail. Follow green arrows when available to stay on trail (these arrows will disappear when you're out of the coffee, it's fine you're still on the right trail). If you get to forks and you're not sure what to do, go UP, do the steeper path. In fact, most of the time if it's not super clear where to go it actually doesn't matter (some forks are just little shortcuts/corner cuts) but going UP will always get you to the right place. There is one fork in between the first and second miradors, marked with a sign, that points you to the "Virgen Guadalupe". This is only a 5 minute or so trail down to a statue of the Virgin Mary (and when i went, also a nice pile of garbage). There is no view. I think this is a waste of time, just keep going on the trail to the left up to the Volcan. There are four major Places on the trail, each that have man-made structures/benches, etc: (1) the 1st Mirador (nice view!), (2) the Second Mirador / Descansa / Swing ("Second Mirador") (Also Nice View!), (3) the Camp (no view!), and the Summit. The First Mirador and the Camp have primitive restroom facilities that I would not personally use (i just pee in the woods wherever). For reference, the Lake is at 1550 meters; the Trailhead is at 1800m; Mirador 1 is at about 2100m; Second Mirador is at 2300m; Camp is at 2867m; and the Summit is at 3020m. There are signs every 100m starting at 2000m, but they're not always easy to see and I have missed one or two of them every time I've been up. The whole trip for me, a 38 yr old man, alone, reasonably fit, takes me a little less than 6 hrs round trip from the trailhead (and a little more than 7 hours round trip from the Pana dock on foot). One of my trips was as follows (no tuk tuk, all on foot): 5:10 am - Leave Pana Dock 5:45 am - Arrive at Trailhead (rest, stretch) 5:50 am - Leave Trailhead 6:38 am - 1st Mirador (rest, pictures) 6:45 am - Leave 1st Mirador 6:49 am - Virgen Trail Fork 7:00 am - Second Mirador / Descansa (rest, snack, pictures) 7:05 am - Leave Second Mirador 7:35 am - Old Tree at 2600 mts 8:09 am - Camp 8:33 am - Summit (Pictures, Snack, rest) 8:55 am - Left Summit 11:50 am - Trailhead 12:30 pm - Pana Dock (included stop at restaurant/shop for water). The early part to the first mirador is the easiest and least steep. When there is no entrance fee, this is a worthy hike on its own, as the view is delightful and it's an easy hike. The portion between the Second Mirador and the Camp is the longest, hardest and steepest. Supplies: One liter of water is sufficient for me. Some people may want more. Bring food, maybe not a whole lunch but at least some granola bars. MOre than just a banana. If you do not snack you will likely get "conked out" coming back down. My third time up I went with a friend who didn't bring enough food and she conked out coming down around the First Mirador, and the nice 45 minute jaunt from First Mirador to the trailhead turned into an over 2 hour ordeal because she was so exhausted and tired. I find the top to be not too cold but it can be windy. Some people may want to bring a jacket. I do not personally bring a jacket. If you start after 7 am I would bring bug spray or pre-spray your clothes. If you get down before it gets hot in the afternoon you won't need it. The dust on the trail can be slippery, so good shoes are beneficial. I did it in reebok runners and walking shoes and was ok but it was definitely a bit slippery for me. Other Notes: There are ground dwelling birds that make movements/sounds in the bush that freaked me out the first time i went up, thinking it could be robbers. (it was not). Also acorn type things fall noisily. Going down and coming up take about the same amount of time. Don't fool yourself into thinking going down is easier. It's not. This is not like, the horriblest hike. There's no rock scrambling or anything like that. It's probably like a Bear Mountain hike (if you know Hudson Valley), plus 20% harder. But it's long. If you are not fit it will take you much longer than 6 hours so plan for that. The time I went with my conked-out friend it took us NINE HOURS just round trip from the trailhead (not pana dock). The earlier you get to the top the less likely you are to be whited out by clouds, as the wind tends to bring clouds into the lake area around noon but sometimes earlier. The summit is above the cloud line and if there are clouds you will see NOTHING. But if you get up there and it's cloudy, wait and the clouds may blow over in a half hour or so. But the best way to avoid cloud whiteout risk is to get up to the top before 10 or 10:30 am and check the weather report the day before. On one ascent i ran into a pair of nice police waiting at the Second Mirador. They were not letting people up past the Second Mirador but they wouldn't tell me why (robbers? Not sure). I was coming down so they didn't bother me, just asked me if there was anyone else at the top (nope!). But i was glad to have gotten past the Second Mirador by like 7 am so I wasn't stopped. I don't think the police get there super early.
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Date of experience: March 2021
1 Helpful vote
Yannick U wrote a review Dec 2020
Yvonand, Switzerland64 contributions54 helpful votes
My Friend and myself just did Volcano San Pedro hike this morning on 31.12.2020 ! For some reasons, we “stupidly” did some researches yesterday and found out actually about all these reviews-comments talking about “Banditos” and “Robberies” on the Top of this Volcano... Despite this, we still decided to go ! We started our hike around 7:00am and when arriving at the entrance of the “Parque National” nobody was there, we even tried to call people, but absolutely nobody was there so we just started our hike without any guide, just My Friend and Myself (2 European Guys). During the hike, somehow, we still had in mind to be ready to be attacked/robbed by some bandits, so we kind of prepare ourself the same as you will prepare yourself if you was going to a War to fight some Guerrilleros... After passing the last “camp” at around 2’857m, (where apparently people get some problems) we were fully prepared for any kind of things that could happen and we kept hiking up in a good a pace... After another 10-15 minutes, we happily arrived to the summit of the Volcano without encountering any issues and anybody ! We have been really happy to make it to the Top and been able to enjoy the sunlight there for a good 30 minutes..! Apparently it is true that sometimes robbery is happening but we do things that if you go there fully prepared and that you hike with confidence, then everything will be alright ! It was a great morning hike, hike itself is 8.2 Km’s return from the entrance and took us 1h47 min to summit and about 1 hour to go down. After the hike, they were finally some “staff people” at the entrance of the parque and we paid the “normal” entrance fee for foreigners which is Q100 per person. We took a Private Boat at 6:15 am from Panajachel to San Pedro that we paid for one way a total of Q220 and from San Pedro “harbour” we took a Tuk Tuk to the entrance of the parque which costs Q10 per person. The hike is definitely worth it as at the summit you have a view over the Volcan Atitlan and Lago Atitlan and we definitely suggest you to start even earlier than we did to ensure a perfect clear view from the top ! Happy New Year to everyone that will read this review that is 100% Legit & Based from a Real story. Yannick @Enjoytavie
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Date of experience: December 2020
4 Helpful votes
Eugene F wrote a review Nov 2020
Quetzaltenango, Guatemala17 contributions22 helpful votes
The previous reports are true - reports of robberies beyond the 2nd mirador. They strongly advice you to go only until the 2nd mirador, which is about 1.5-2 hours up. They also charge some of the most expensive entry prices to a volcano in Guatemala, 100Q for a foreigner, 50Q for a local person. We saw about 25 people coming down and there were more that went up before us, all in all, they are bringing in they money. I went yesterday. We did see lots of people coming down that camped at the top. But we were told that 2 Israelis were robbed 2 weeks ago. The money they charge goes towards making the trail very nice and clean, they put steps in at some places, the 2 lookout miradors are very nice, but you'd think that they'd be able to place security at the top, because then it's like half a volcano hike.
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Date of experience: November 2020
Carl G wrote a review Feb 2020
43 contributions9 helpful votes
We need to pay a fee to enter the park. There’s is always plenty of guides available to show us the way through the different little trails that go into coffee plantation. It’s suggested to have a guide to go to the summit, since there are a lot of was in some banditos wait to mug tourist of valuables at the summit. While going up you feel the thinning of the air, a great workout.
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Date of experience: February 2020
Richard P wrote a review Jan 2020
Atenas, Costa Rica10 contributions5 helpful votes
We were looking at doing this as preparation for another volcano hike but we will take a pass. Unfortunate for the bandit situation. Thanks everyone for their input.
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Date of experience: January 2020