Published: February 24th 2012February 18th 2012
A shuttle for 75Q ($10) brought us into San Pedro. The entrance was spectacular as we turned off the Pan American Highway for about an hour of driving through giant pot holes, steep grades, and blind turns around the many switch backs on the road.
To cros the mountain ridge we first ascended into a cloud such that you could only see a few feet around you. After reaching the crest of the mountain, we started downhill with nothing more than amazing views all around us and turns that made us pray that the bus had good brakes.
When we arrived in the town, we were swamped by people tyring to get us to come to their hostel - all saying that they worked for the municipality. Not wanting to get scammed in our second town and not having an answer for where we were staying, we went with a few friends from the shuttle to the hostel that they suggested. The hostel, called Casa Blanca, was a nice Israeli run hostel, but a little higher priced than many of the locations in town. Still, it wasn't bad at 50Q (6.20) a night and from
the room there was a lake front view that was incredible.
That evening, several of us grabbed some tacos to eat, and all hung out over a few beers by the water.
The next day, we relaxed a bit and enjoyed the town. My buddy Jose and I decided to scale the volcano named San Pedro which overlooked the city. The city of San Pedro sits roughly at 5,000 feet while the sumit of the volcano is just over 10,000 feet. We booked a guide and everything for 100Q each ($13.50).
The next morning, we got up at 5:20 am and met our guide who turned out the be a 19 year old kid named Fransisco who looked to be about 14. He’s a guide for several of the local tours around the lake and is trying to save up enough money to study architecture in either Guatemala City or Antigua. It was great to hear his story as he seemed to be well on his way to entering college with another year of work.
Our climbing group turned out to include Amy (a girl from Canada that came down for a conference in Guatemala City
and was then exploring the local area a bit), Jose and myself. The first 20 minutes of the hike was fairly easy while the next 25 turned into a respectable incline that had us all breathing quite heavily. At this point we stopped at the only rest stop along the way and our guide gave us the news that we had just finished the easy section. So off we went as we continued to climb the volcano. We actually made a pretty decent pace and after another 25 minutes we had a short break to catch our breath. By this point, the legs were starting to feel a little more wobbly and the hike less fun.
We sat down to rest after finishing the second of the three sections of the volcano. Joking that the worst was behind us, we started up again. The worst was definitely not behind us as every step was about 2 feet up and I didn’t really feel anything in my legs anymore except for the same pain as when running sprint drills as I took every step.
We eventually saw a clearing and thought we had made the top, but our excitement
was crushed as we found out we just reached a lower summit and had about 15 minutes of vertical climbing left.
We finally reached the summit and were treated to a view like no other. It was spectacular as we could see all of Lake Atitlan, several of the towns around lake, and the other two volcanoes. The sky seemed to have three distinctly different shades of color at different levels and the feeling of isolation in such an incredible place was incredible. Climbing the volcano was definitely worth it and I can’t wait to do it again.
After descending, we got back to the hostel where I didn’t want to do anything but have some celebration drinks.
That night I went out with a couple friends from the hostel while my roomates Jose and Anat went out with other people. We all somehow ended up at the same bar by the end of the night along with just about everyone from our hostel.
The next morning we decided to stay one more night in San Pedro before catching an early shuttle the following day to a place called Semuc Champey near a town called Lanquin.
There are more photos below