Our challenge!It was time to hike to the highest point in Central America…Tajamulco Volcano, 3 hours north of Quetzaltenango (Xela). We opted to go on the overnight hike with Quetzaltrekkers, an organisation run by enthousiastic volunteers, and whose proceeds help run a school for street kids and a medical clinic in one of the worst areas of Xela. As most of the proceeds go towards these worthwhile causes, there are no AC minibuses and porters on this trip…


We carried all our own water, food and a portion of cooking equipment/tent for the 2 days. I was allocated the “shit kit” – no need for explanation there – and the oatmeal for a hearty breakfast. We set off at 4am on Saturday morning, travelling by 2 chicken buses north to the start of the hike, at around 3000m.

Hiking in the mistNow for us seaboard Irish, this altitude is no easy thing to manage! Remember that our Carrauntoohil barely reaches 1000m if that. We huffed and puffed our way up the mountain for 6 or so hours, stopping every hour or so for snacks, bad jokes and a rest in the sun. Cathal of course was bounding up the hill mountain-goat style keeping up with the 20 year olds, but I took the more leisurely approach! The views were great on the way up, we were above cloud level, and proceeded through different vegetation and landscape.

We set up camp in the late afternoon, as the mist enveloped us in a damp whiteness. 6 to a tent – it will be freezing tonight the guides promised, as if making up for the fact that we would be packed like sardines! A short hike to the summit of “Little Tajamulco” resulted in no spectacular sunset, and once a pasta dinner was wolfed down everyone went to sleep at 7pm.

Ridge line

A relatively sleepless night, and up again at 3.30am for the summit hike. It was slow going, as we were now above 4000m, and being unaccustomed to this height, the lack of oxygen took its toll. However, we all made it up with no major problems and wrapped ourselves in sleepingbags to wait for sunrise. Once again the sun hid shyly behind cloud on the horizon, depriving us of the view of the chain of volcanoes and to Mexico, but it was very pretty all the same.

The return trip was a breeze, downhill all the way in pleasant weather! After a quick lunch, it was back onto packed chicken buses back to Xela. I had the privilege of sitting up front on the first ride – we saw first hand the crazy antics the drivers get up to! Several companies compete for each route, so there is always a bus to overtake in order to get to the next set of waiting passengers. People are hauled onto and off buses at high speed, and the second conductor spends a lot of drivetime on the roof sorting out baggage!

Throwing bags onto the chicken bus

We thoroughly enjoyed the somewhat challenging experience of summiting the highest point in Central America – watch out Aconcagua and Mt McKinley!


1 Response to “Tajamulco Volcano Hike 5-6 May 2008”

  1. 1 Jennifer May 18, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    Sounds like great fun. love the sleeping bags.

    Lot’s of love

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