Key information: Volcan Tajumulco
- Central America’s highest mountain, a huge and thrilling ex volcano.
- Inspirational dawn and sunset views to Guatemala's other great volcanic peaks.
- Climb a beautiful ridge clad in open pine forest.
- Walkopedia rating89
- Natural interest17
- Human interest6
- Negative points2
- Total rating89
- Note: Negs: altitude
- Length: 14km
- 2 days
- Maximum Altitude: 4,219m
- Level of Difficulty: Difficult
Close to the border with Mexico, Volcan Tajumulco is the highest point in Central America at 4,219m, with inspirational dawn views across a sea of clouds to Guatemala’s other great volcanic peaks. It is a long return walk, so best broken up with a night up there (at just under 4,000m, so quite high).
You approach Tajumulco by a long ridge from the north-east, alternating steepish sections with some gentler ones. It is delightful walking, through open pine woodland with attractive grasses and shrubs, with huge views back down to the (relative) lowlands, or a sea of clouds with a few high points emerging from it, depending on the weather.
The main approach route starts at around 3,100m, and climbs to follow the ridge. With the campsite on a beautiful wooded platform at 3,980m between the main (4,219m) and lesser (4,100m) summits, it is a demanding 14km/9-10hrs return climb at altitude, but less brutal that Acatenango or Santa Maria. You can, though, start quite a bit higher (3,590m) at a corner of a spectacular cobbled mountain road, and climb to join the ridge to reach the campsite a mere 400m higher in 1.5 hrs or so. When Walko was here, we had no choice as (so we were told) villager disputes made the longer route inadvisable – but we got stopped at road 'repairs' by some quite thuggish looking locals, which required payment to be cleared, and 3 times at that, so it had its moments. So it would be good to check practicalities before planning to climb here.
The campsite is a really lovely place to loiter on a sunny day; it quckly gets bitterly cold at sunset. Our team used their ponies to forage for logs, and we had a wonderful fireside evening.
The steep climb (30 mins up) to the lesser (southern) peak to enjoy the sunset gilding the rocks, trees and clouds is not to be missed.
The summit needs to be enjoyed at dawn, so, early the next morning, you need to make the steep, 200m+, climb in the dark and freezing breeze. It will take 1 hr-ish, depending on how the altitude has taken you – Walkopedia really struggled, it has to be said. You won't be disappointed, enjoying vast views across many of Guatemala's magnificent volcanoes emerging fom the sea of clouds above the slumbering lowlands, including Santa Maria and, further off, Agua and Acatenango with busy Fuego belching little puffs of poison next to it. Really amazing.
Then it is back to camp for breakfast and a return down the ridge to the roadhead, still benefitting from the sharp morning light.
Although not as tough as Acatenango or Santa Maria, this is demanding walking on a high mountain with variable weather, with (usually) a huge altitude gain from your previous night which can cause real problems. Take it slowly and come prepared.
Walkopedia came here on Much Better Adventures' Guatemala 5 Volcano challenge (https://www.muchbetteradventures.com/products/10037-adventures-guatemala-5-volcano-challenge/), and we loved it.
We’d love to share more! Please help us by making suggestions and sending photos! Thank you!
For more information and photos, including detailed practical information and some warnings, see our Guatemala’s Volcanoes page.
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Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.
Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.
Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.
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