OverviewTajumulco is the highest peak in both Guatamala and Central America. Like the rest of the mountains in Guatemala, it too is a volcano. The volcano has its last small eruptions in 1821 and 1863 and has been quiet since.
This is a spectacular climb, and has views of both Mexico and Guatemala. The mountain is also surrounded by several interesting small villages. On clear days you can see to the Pacific Ocean. Despite being a fairly popular climb, there isn't too much in way of tourist infrastructure here, and the mountain can only be reached by dusty bus rides.
Getting ThereMost people will probably arrive in Guatemala City. I came overland from Mexico. From Guatamala City, catch a bus to San Marcos. This is a sizeable city and several buses run daily from many locations throughout the country. Luckily the road is now paved, at least to San Marcos.
From Guatamala City to San Marcos is 258 kms. The easiest way to get there is through Quetzaltenango, also known as Xela, which has a large tourist base for people climbing the nearby volcanoes.
From San Marcos, take one of several daily buses running towards San Sabastian and Tacana. Pass through San Sabastian and ask to bed dropped off at "Tajumulco" or "Llano de la Guardia", near the turnoff to the tiny villiage of Tuichan (30 kms from San Sabastian).
You can also reach Tuichan from Tacana and from Mexico. This is a short ride on the map, but unless roads have been improved in the last decade, it is actually a long, bumpy, very dusty bus ride.
Note: This information is from my 1993 climb. If there are any updates or changes, please post them here under additions/corrections.
Routes Overview.The only route I am familiar with is the Llano del la Guardia Route. If you know of other routes, please post them. Also, see the route page for much more detail.
There is a good trail to the summit, but there are also several other livestock/woodcutting trails in the area that make following the first half of the trail confusing. If you are alone, or you don't speak any Spanish at all, I would recommend taking a local guide. Don't wander too far off the paths either (see the Red Tape section). From the trailhead at Llano de la Guardia, the trail follows the ridge to the west through many farms and cattle pastures. The trail more or less follows the ridge and enters a pine forest at 3300 meters (11,000 feet). From there, the trails converge and it is easier to follow the main trail. Continue up the main trail to a junction. From here, the most used path heads SW to some villiages on the other sideof the volcano. For Tajumulco, instead of following the most used trail down to the villiages, stay on the steep path right at the ridgeline, and follow it to the summit. The climb can be done in one very long day, but it is highly recommended that you camp high on the mountain. The route page has more details.
Red TapeNo permits are required.
Although I felt completely safe on my solo climb in 1993, unfortunately there have been stories of some robberies along the trail in more recent years. It is recommended that you take a local guide if traveling alone.
There are (were?) also rumors that there are land-mines on the mountain. Avoid anything that looks suspicious. Don't stray from the trail.
Don't let all this scare you too much; many people climb the mountain every year, but be aware of the situations. Anyone having updated information on the situations is requested to post information here.
When To ClimbThe dry season is best which last from late November to early April. Be prepared for clouds and cool weather at any time of year. It can be surprisingly cold on the summit.
CampingThere are campsites on the mountain, but above the farms near the beginning of the climb, there is no water in the dry season. The most spectacular campsite is right at the summit. At least in 1993, there were no hotels in the villiages surronding the volcano, but you can camp near the villiages. It may be best to stay in San Marcos, ride the bus to the trailhead, and then pack everything higher up the mountain to camp.
Mountain ConditionsThe closest weather link is in Quetzaltenago. Expect cooler and wetter conditions in the mountains.