Looking for activities to do in Guatemala? If you are planning a trip to Guatemala and thinking of going to the Lake Atitlan area, you need to think about hiking Indian’s Nose. If you are planning on going to Guatemala and not taking a trip to Lake Atitlan, change your plans! Having spent time in a few different places in Guatemala now I can honestly say nowhere is beautiful as the Lago de Atitlan.
The best place to see this natural wonder is from the top of Indian’s Nose.
You will find no shortage of tour companies offering to take you up Indians Nose.
The general itinerary is:
Take the bus to San Clara, then you walk the 45 minutes up to Indians Nose, watch the sunrise drink a coffee and then you walk back down to the bus. You leave around 3:45 am and should be back in San Pedro for 8 am. The cost is pretty much the same across all of the agents 100Q per person and they need a minimum of 2 people. Sadly being a solo traveller I couldn’t find anyone to take me on my own. But it actually worked better for me as I came across an alternative tour!
After doing plenty of research online I kept coming across people who had taken a tour with a guy called “Matt the Geologist” everyone seemed to rave about his tour as it lasted much longer and he also gives a talk about how Lake Atitlan was formed and the history of the volcanos. This sounded right up my street but I couldn’t seem to find any contact details. Not one to be deterred I continued to look and I eventually found his email address.
Unfortunately, after contacting Matt, it was a similar story but this time I would need to find a group of 6 people to make the tour possibly!
This tour would include the following:
- 3:35 Meeting
- 4 am Chicken Bus to Santa Clara
- Hike up to Indians nose
- Watch the sun rise
- Talk about how the lake was formed and why you can see 8 volcanoes from the top.
- As matt describe it:
“In order to fully appreciate the magnitude of the caldera-forming eruption, I start right back at the start with the structure of the planet, why that leads to plate tectonics, talk about earthquakes and “normal” volcanoes in order to get a sense of scale for the massive eruption that formed the lake.”
- Walk back down to San Juan through the maize fields and coffee plantations. A local guide will share his knowledge about the coffee process, medicinal uses of local plants and local customs during this time.
- Pick-up back to San Pedro ETA 10 am
A few days before I was due to leave I was not feeling optimistic about the tour happening but Matt kindly offered to run the tour for 4 people, with a few tweaks (YAY). We would all go in his car and we wouldn’t be able to take a local guide or do the walk back through the coffee plantations. Matt did stop and talk to us about coffee though on the way down (just without the walk).
So here’s what to expect on your hike:
It’s an early start, but worth it. You will leave San Pedro around 4 am normally on the Chicken Bus to Santa Clara.
The first part of the hike from Santa Clara is pretty flat and we walked quickly over this part. It’s dark so does make sure you bring a torch if you have one.
The second part of the walk is pretty manly steps. Matt was great and took it really slow with just enough stops. Despite being in San Pedro for 3 weeks by this point I still wasn’t used to the altitude and it didn’t take long before I was out of breath. If you are worried about this then make sure you place yourself towards the front of the group, never at the back. One thing I learned in the forces what you always keep the pace with the slowest person. Once you reach the top of the steps you will be glad to know you are half way up!
The third part of the walk was winding up the mountain to the first viewing platform. I personally found this much more challenging than the steps. At the point when I though I couldn’t do much more without a quick rest I looked up and could see the platform, relieved isn’t the word!
When you get to the first platform the view is pretty spectacular. Sadly I didn’t get any pictures as I stupidly forgot my tripod… Take my word for it though it was an incredible view seeing the villages all beginning to light up. You have a great view down over San Pedro.
The fourth and final part of this hike is a short and steep climb up to the top viewing platform.
When we arrived we had about 30 minutes to wait before the sun began to rise. Matt kindly let me use his tripod to take a few shots. I just missed Fuego erupting, but the ash cloud still looks pretty cool.
Make sure you bring warm clothes as it’s pretty chilly up there before the sun comes up.
We couldn’t have timed it better, Fuego erupting, and the sun rising. It was a pretty special moment and the perfect final day for me in San Pedro.
Matt even brings you a cup of proper Guatemalan Café!
The Sun Rise
Once the sun is up and you have taken all the pictures you can the next part of the tour begins. This was the bit I was really looking forward to and what really makes this tour different from all of the others.
As I mentioned before Matt is a geologist, one of those science people in love with rocks. I haven’t met a geologist yet who isn’t, and they all seem to have a knack to rubbing off their passion onto anyone who will listen. I must say as someone who was never particularly interested in Geography or Geology at school this talk completely changed my view. If only I’d been able to learn about Geology or Geography sat looking out at these views. I think it would have been a whole different story!
To explain about the area you first need to go back to the beginning of time, as Matt explains.
He talked us through how the earth was formed, tectonic plates, earthquakes and lava flow. It was fascinating and made me even more aware of just how special this place was. It made me appreciate the lake Atitlan area on a whole new level.
Once the talk was finished we made our decent stopping on the way to talk about corn, coffee and many other interesting local facts.
I can honestly say this was one of the most interesting and value for money tours I have ever taken and if you are in the slightest bit interested in local history, geology or just getting some really great images then you need to do this tour.
From the moment we got into Matt’s car until the moment he dropped us off he was a vault of local information. He spoke to us about everything from the different languages spoken by the Mayan people to the politics of the local area. This tour was a real treat.
How to book
If you are interested in booking a tour with Matt his company is called Geo Adventures and you will need to email him.