Shaylee and I climbed Volcán Santa María with Carlos from Monte Verde Adventures. There were other people with us as well, and they were a good group, but a bit slower than we were.
The climb was a good one and moderately steep. The main reason why many people climb Santa María is to get a good look at the very active Santiaguito volcano. When we were on top Santiaguito was heard exploding, but the explosions were obscured by clouds. Eventually the clouds parted enough so that we could watch some eruptions. There were some interesting trees and birds seen on the way down.
I spent a month climbing volcanoes. The day I climbed Santa Maria I was stricken with traveler's diarrhea. I had to stop 4 times before reaching the summit. Up top we watched Satiaguito erupt. It sounded like a jet engine.
Other peaks I bagged on this trip include...
Volcán La Malinche, Cofre de Perote, Pico de Orizaba (country highpoint, 3rd highest in North America), Volcán Iztaccíhuatl, Pico de Aguila, Nevado de Toluca, Cerro de Ombugo, Pico de Humboldt, Nevado de Colima, Cerro Tancitaro
Volcán Pacaya, Volcán Tajumulco (country highpoint, 24th most prominent peak on earth), Volcán Concepción, Volcán Tacaná (2nd highest in Central America), Cerro Chemal "La Torre", Cerro Chemal "Cerro los Cuervos", Montañas Peña Blanca, Volcán Atitlán, Volcán Acatenango
Volcán Poás, Volcán Barva, Volcán Irazú, Cerro Chirripó (country highpoint, 36th most prominent on earth), Cerro Piramide, Cerro Terbi, Cerro Buenavista
Trip report with photos and video
Took a 30 min chicken bus ride from the Democracia Marker in Xela to Llanas del Pina (little village) for 2q. Bus stopped right at trail head (2500m). It's an easy path and you don't need a guide. I started at 10am and top was already in clouds. Met lots and lots of locals descending (all w/ lots of heavy camping gear).
Took me 2.5 hrs to get up (i was pushing it pretty hard) w/ a small day pack. 30 min at the top to rest. No view b/c of clouds. One hour down, ran some sections.
Completely pooped after the climb. Ate at a local restaurant. Then took a chicken bus back to Xela. Took a taxi for 150q (return trip w/ waiting) to the Fuentes Georginas hot springs (50q) which was an amazing end of the day.
Left Parque Central area in Xela around 8:40 but didn't get out to Llano del Pinal till 10:45. If you want to get there taking the chicken bus to Llano del Pinar, you find the bus on the south side of Minerva, not the Terminal where most of the buses are. Also, you could probably get the bus from in front of the Cemetery if you're closer to that end of town, which would save you more time. Note that getting dropped of from Llano del Pinal will take you toward a trail approaching from the northeast of the volcano, so you will veer right to get to the main summit trail junction.
It was a nice 3-hour walk to the summit. I got a few great views on the way up and way down, and had a partially obscured view south of the Pacific and Rio Dulce. Couldn't see Santiaguito at all, and there were a couple rainy stretches both ascending and descending. Will go again as it is so close.
Up there a few nights to see many awesome eruptions.
Fun climb. Witnessed an eruption of Santiaguito, which was very impressive. You can see all of the other volcanoes in Guatemala oriented in a straight line from the summit. I thought that was kind of amazing. There were mayans on the summit fully prostrated, performing rituals of worship. It is a very sacred place for them. Passed dozens of mayans on the way down. The climb is 1240 meters from the parking area in the nearby town to the summit. We did it in 3 hours, arriving at the summit around 8:30am. The pace was a bit difficult for me (my guide reached the top about 15 minutes ahead of me), but a great walk-up hike.
Summited Volcan Santa Maria the same day we did Tajumulco.
We camped on the summit and had great views of active volcan Santiaguito below. 3 hours to summit from the village of Llano de Pinal (2 Quetzales -one way- by bus from Xela).
No security issue to report.
Climbed with quetzaltrekkers during a total lunar eclipse.
With acclimatization it is an easy 3-4 hours climb through the forrest. Started from Llano del Pinal at midnight and arrived 4am at the top.
Santiaguito was not as active as in the past, but some lava is visible on its top. Had a 2min outburst at night with some magma bubbling an a 1000m high ash cloud. Very fascinating to see this show under illumination of a full moon. Afterwards no further eruptions.
Had a great sunrise through the eruption fumes of Volcan Fuego in the East. Shadow of Santa Maria was pointing to the setting full moon.
Very enjoyable climb... I would recommend a guide if you haven't climbed it before, or at the least make sure to read up, as there's one necessary turn that you probably wouldn't guess without someone who knows the trail. Nice day hike!
Whilst I successfully reached the summit of Volcan Santa Maria back in December 2006, I was very disappointed with the weather as the main reason for going up was to view the active Santiaguito Lava Dome from above.
Interesting climb though cloud cover prevented view!!
One of my favorite climbs. Culture, views, and steep hiking all in a great trip. It can be done as a day trip or a great overnight trip. Get up top early to see Santiago erupting. I have climbed it 5 times.
Great climb up through beautiful pine forests. Guatemala recently did some significant trail improvements making the hike much more accessible. Views from the top are stunning when there are no clouds. Be prepared for lots of graffiti on the rocks.
Camped on the summit for some days in 2007 and 2009. Awesome views when it's not cloudy, with some nice incandescence at night. Sometimes there can be a strong and relentless wind, make sure you have a stable tent!
Successfull climb... but I came down without my backpack ! Somebody stole it ! Great view over erupting santiaguito.