Daytripper: Cool Trips. Close by.
Daytripper is XelaWho’s regular monthly series on day trips within easy reach of Xela. This month’s article is called: Vulcan Tajumulco.
By Justin Hake
Tajumulco, Central America’ s highest peak, towers over the region with a colossal elevation of 4220 meters. A moderate hike for enthusiasts, Tajumulco can offer quite a challenge for the average traveler. It has long been one of the main draws for many extranjeros making the highlands part of their Guatemalan adventure and rightly so; the volcano lives up to its name, literally meaning ” into the clouds.”
Appearing as a slightly daunting task looking up from the base of the volcano, the summit remains very much attainable in a single day. But catching a stunning sunrise from the tallest point in Central America begs the question: why not spend the night? The adventure begins just before dawn on day one as we make our way to the town of San Marcos, close to the Mexican border. From there, hop on a bus to Tacaná and tell them to let you off at Volcán Tajumulco in Tuichán. The hike starts at a small village and winds its way through corn milpas and temperate farm land. The ascent immediately takes its toll on some as the altitude begins to weigh in. Heavy breathing and profuse sweating reach their limit as we are greeted with open pastures, perfect for a break. A stretch of stunning pines and alpine wildflowers is all that’ s left before we pitch base camp at 4000 meters. After sunset, dinner is served and everyone enjoys the tranquility and, weather permitting, an impressive view of the stars. They seem almost close enough to touch.
Another predawn departure, day two starts off less friendly as hikers have to shed their sleeping bags for fleeces and gloves. The morning air is frigid and the wind sneaks up your spine with temperatures dipping below zero degrees Celsius. After an hour of hiking, trekkers reach the summit feeling an immense satisfaction with their recent accomplishment. The sun slowly peaks over the horizon just in time to warm everyone’ s spirits and provide breathtaking views of Guatemala and neighboring countries. In the distance, Volcán Santiaguito and Fuego say hello with occasional burps of ash as we gaze out at the various volcanic chains that make up Guatemala. It’ s a view hikers won’ t soon forget.
-Justin Hake is full time volunteer for Quetzaltrekkers, Xela’s all volunteer non-profit trekking company, located in Casa Argentina, Diagonal 12, 8-37