Volcán Ceboruco is an inactive stratovolcano that is part of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt in the state Nayarit, in western Mexico. At 2280m altitude it is the 7th highest of Nayarit. Located in an area which is covered with several other volcanoes Ceboruco offers great hiking opportunities through lush forests with plenty of interesting fauna and flora to observe. It isn´t such a demanding hike up to its crater so it can be visited as a pleasant dayhike from the village Jala, which lies at is foot.
View from Jala under the burning afternoon sun.
As often with volcanoes in Mexico, antenna’s have been installed on the higher part of the volcano and you can actually drive there on a cobble stone road. It is however also recommended to walk up Ceboruco because in the 3-4 hours it takes to go up to the crater you can spot, if you are a bit lucky, plenty of wildlife such as iguana’s, wild pigs, and several species of birds. On its lower slopes you walk past blue agave and corn fields. The whole area has been declared a protected area since 2000 covering about 15 ha. but you don't see anything of this mentioned on the volcano.
Cows in agave field on the slopes of Ceboruco.
Ceboruco, which means "the black giant" according to some or "source of rocks" according to other sources in the indigenous language Nahuatl had several eruptions, the largest around 930 AD, the most recent from 1870-1875. Today the only signs of its activity are several fumeroles that can be found inside the large caldera that was created during its largest eruption.
Iguana on the slopes of Ceboruco.
As remains of some of these more recent eruptions you’ll find smaller craters inside this main caldera. On the northern and western side of the volcano there are cooled lava flows and when heading towards Tepic over Highway 15 you actually drive through the edges of the northern lava flow.
To reach Ceboruco you need to get to Jala, a pleasant village at the foot of the volcano with cobblestone roads, an impressive basilica, a few small plazas surrounded by colonial style houses and a couple of posadas and restaurants to stay and eat at.
Approach from Jala.
You will probably get there from either Tepic, the state capital of Nayarit, (67km away) or from Guadalajara, the state capital of neighbouring Jalisco (134 km away). Coming from Jalisco on highway 15D you pass Tequila and after crossing the state border in the mountaineous Sierra Madre Sur you reach Ixtlan del Rio. From here it is another 7 km to the point where the road turns right towards Jala.
First view of the main caldera.
By bus it takes about 20 minutes to reach Jala from Ixtlan del Rio. Busses leave regularly three blocks from the main square and pick up passengers on the highway 15. Once you are in Jala walk to the main square. From here the calle Hidalgo goes all the way up to the antenna’s on the volcano, in about 18 km. The road actually splits up in two twice. First a few blocks after the main square it turns left over a small bridge, and then some ten minutes later it splits up again, where you should keep left again. The road is actually indicated with blue signs saying "Volcán Ceboruco" so you can’t really go wrong.
Trail inside the main caldera through the forest.
Once you get out of Jala you reach the bridge that goes over the highway. From here you can see the antenna’s to your right. The road however winds its way up the volcano to the left and then goes further up at its backside. In 3-4 hours you get to the "entrance" of the volcano: a small abandoned brick building and a few blue signs. The road still continues from here and in 30 minutes you reach the antenna’s. From the entrance, below the road, you see the small valley which has been created after several different eruptions which is now covered in trees. This might be what remains of the crater of one of the earlier eruptions. The actual crater however is situated higher up.
Valley near the entrance inside the main caldera.
To the right of the entrance a trail goes a couple of minutes down to the fumaroles. Here you find signs of the still active volcano: small holes on the side of the crates that let out steam. A few concrete tables have been built next to them and on weekend this is where people come to have a picnic and prepare some food over the heat of the fumaroles.
Fumarolas inside the main Caldera.
About 200 m before the antenna’s you’ll find a couple of abandoned cabañas without doors and with broken windows. They can be used as a shelter if you didn’t bring a tent to camp. Behind these cabins the trail goes further up the volcano. A big white arrow painted on a rock indicates the way, which continues for about an hour to the crater. On your way you walk pass several open areas which seem to be craters of previous smaller eruptions and huge blocks of petrified lava. These make for excellent area’s to camp at. Together with the beautiful forest this is an amazing area you won’t find often inside the crater of a volcano.
Open areas inside the main caldera.
The trail ends at more blocks of petrified lava inside another small crater. Some 10 minutes before reaching the crater you can go up the crater rim for an impressive sunset. This also seems to be the highest point of Ceboruco. Looking west you’ll see more volcanoes scattered around the area and flows of petrified lava.
Red tape, camping and when to go
There is no red tape and it is easy to find a great place to camp: near the fumarolas or at one of the open area’s higher up the volcano in its crater. You could also bivy at one of the abandoned cabins near the antenna's.
Cabanas near the antenna's.
In can get very got in April - June. Normally the rainy season start at the end of May, with rain shower often in the late afternoon and at night. However this year the rains didn't start untill the end of June. With the rainy season from June untill September everythere turn greener and give some cooling off, but it still get warm during the day. October untill March gives more pleasant, and less hot temperatures where it can get pretty cold at night at higher elevations.
Sunset from the summit.
- Nearby, in Jalisco you can hike up this extinct volcano near Tequila: Volcán de Tequila.
- Info on volcanoes around the world from the Smithsonian institute:Ceboruco.
- Info on the geography of Nayarit from the INEGI.