I spent a month climbing volcanoes. Atitlán was the steepest one of all. We started walking at the lake shore. The trail from the saddle features a lot of loose dirt.
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 Santa María, 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 boat from San Pedro La Laguna to Santiago Atitlán, then a chicken bus to a junction just after San Lucas Toliman. Hiked in from here, partly along farmers paths, partly bushwhacking to join the main trail up the mountain. Met lots of friendly locals along the way, but unfortunately the trail is full of rubbish, mainly plastic water bottles. The last 1,000m of elevation was brutal, straight up on often loose soil and scree. Summited too late to have a view (12:30pm). Small hut & many good campsites near the summit, suggest camping to be almost guaranteed a sunrise view. On the way down I followed the trail all the way to San Lucas before catching a pickup to Santiago & boat back to San Pedro. There is a good road for 3km from San Lucas towards the trailhead & a less good dirt road for a further 1km, would be a good idea to take a tuk-tuk to there to save hiking time.
After being told by locals from San Lucas that the situation on Atitlan is safe in the moment I climbed the volcano alone from San Lucas.
A guide would have saved me 5 hours that I lost by finding the right trail to the summit.
But I was overwhelmed by the friendliness and support of the local farmers high up on the slopes. Despite my poor Spanish level, everyone tried to help me finding the right trail. Unfortunately, some also send me to other directions while being already on the right one.
After reaching the pass between Toliman and Atitlan, the climb continues in the cloud forest. Saw some squirels, skunks and a Horned Guan there.
Arriving on the summit after more than 10 hours was a relief. Great view down to Lago Atitlan and East to Acatenango and very active Fuego.
Returned to San Lucas safely before dusk.
Didn't meet any other hiker during the day. Seems to be a very quite place.
San Lucas is a nice place to stay. Not the best hotels but very friendly but still distant people. A big contrast to touristic Panajachel or Santiago Atitlan.
Just came down :)
Climbed from San Lucas up, to teh summit and the much longer way down to Santiago Atitlan. We had two police officers for security (free of charge), no guide, but regretted the latter as we lost several hours trying to find the right track through al the cornfields.
Summit was cloudy but warm and relaxed. Many guide will sell a two day trip, but is not needed, fit climbers can go up in 4-6 hours. Raced down in 2'45 to Santiago Atitlan
Amazing views, my favorite volcano from Guatemala