OverviewTacana is considered by some to be the hardest climb in Guatemala. It is definitely the most remote of the big volcanoes in Guatemala and, for that reason, is often bypassed by climbers in favor of more accessible peaks. Depending on your starting point, it can take up to ten hours to summit. That combined with the over eight hours to drive to the trail head, makes for a long day! The volcano itself is a massive cone, dominating the San Marcos horizon. The Mexico-Guatemala border crosses the summit, dividing it between the two countries. Most people begin their climb at the village of La Haciendita. The view from the top includes Tajumulco volcano, the Pacific Ocean, and the Mexican and Guatemalan mountain range.
The volcano has beautiful landscapes with very high and alpine vegetation, pine forests, herds of sheep, shepherds, fresh water sources, and open fields. During your climb you will pass small potato and bean farms. Volcanic activity was reported in 1855, 1878, 1903 and 1949, as violent shaking, and fumarole activity towards 3800 and 3870 meters was reported in 1950, on the southwest side.
When we climbed this volcano in May of 2008, we frequently caught the smell of sulfur in the air, especially near the peak.
Getting ThereFrom the capital, take the road CA-1 from the altiplano to Quetzaltenango, then continue to San Marcos, via San Juan Ostuncalco, Palestine de los Altos, and continuing on a dirt road to Sibinal, Via San Sebastian, lxchiguan and continue to San Jose Ojetenam, Tacana (the town, not the volcano).
There is another route along the southern coast, Escuintla (CA-2), Mazatenango, Coatepeque, to Malacatan, then look for the entrance to the Christmas tree farm and leave your vehicle. This route is little used because it starts at the very bottom of the volcano and is a very long hike.
Because the drive takes so long and the roads are unpredictable, I strongly recommend taking a second class bus (Q45.00) to Xela. From there you can secure a guide for the remainder of the drive (three to four hours).