Hiking Volcano San Pedro on Lake Atitlan

Guatemalan Coffee Trees

Hiking Under Coffee Trees

San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala

It was time to conquer Volcano San Pedro, on the shores of beautiful Lake Atitlan. The 9900 foot extinct volcano had been sitting there, laughing at me for the past few weeks.

Three of us ended up deciding to hire a guide, even though I’m not a big fan of that. But it turned out we would’ve needed to pay the same fee to enter the trail on our own anyway. Plus there are no trail signs (probably on purpose).

Ultimately I was happy we did it though, because the man we got was worth every penny!

Volcano Cornfield

Steep Mountainside Cornfield

The day began when we met our older & experienced guide Pedro at 7am. We jumped in a little TukTuk for a ride up to the trailhead. After checking in at the hut, we began walking up a path through thousands of coffee trees.

Soon after came steep mountainside corn fields. The dark volcanic soil is incredibly rich in nutrients, which is why the locals grow many of their crops up here.

San Pedro Jungle Trail

Hiking the Jungle Trail

About an hour into the hike, the landscape started turning into lush green jungle. I now realized why Pedro had brought a giant machete!

You could see that trees would sometimes fall across the path, and Pedro was not only guiding us, but also helping to maintain the trail itself.

San Pedro Volcano Flower

Exotic Plants

It was wet, muddy, and steep, so Pedro cut some fresh walking sticks to help us out a bit.

Vines began dropping down out of the trees, creating a tangled web. I started seeing all kinds of flowers, mushrooms, trees, and other plants that I had never seen before. It was all completely new to me, and I loved it!

Thick Jungle Hike

Thick Volcanic Jungle

Finally we reached the top after about 3 hours of hiking. The view was spectacular! Lake Atitlan was spread out before us, surrounded by mountains and other volcanos.

Unlike lakes in the United States, Lake Atitlan doesn’t have many boats on it. This makes it seem that much more untouched and serene.

After an hour on the summit, my amigos and our guide Pedro hiked back down, while I spent an extra hour at the top. Photos wouldn’t do this experience justice, I needed video.

I also wanted to really soak it all in, and only 1 hour at the top didn’t feel like enough time. It was cold & windy up there, so I threw on my jacket to bundle up.

Hiking Volcano San Pedro

Summit of Volcano San Pedro

Not long after, clouds started hitting the side of the volcano and flying right up into me. I was now inside a cloud for the first time (airplanes don’t count). Not fog, but actual clouds. Another new experience to add to my list!

On the way back down the trail, I found a good, thick, Tarzan worthy vine, and I couldn’t help myself. A little jungle swinging through the trees is good for the soul.

Watch Video: San Pedro Volcano Hike in Guatemala

Location: San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala
Company: Just ask around for Pedro
Cost: $100 Quetzales ($12 US)
Useful Tips: Bring a jacket, it gets cold & windy up there. There is also a rustic cabin available for rent near the top.


Hi, I'm Matthew Karsten — I’ve been traveling around the world for over 4 years. Adventure travel & photography are my passions. Let me inspire you to travel more with crazy stories, photography, and useful tips from my travel adventures. Join thousands who receive exclusive email updates and click the green button below...

Comments & Questions


  1. Sue
    January 2, 2015

    Do you have an email or company name for Pedro ? I will be staying in Páni And The hike is my one goal! Thanks Sue!

    • Matthew Karsten
      January 3, 2015

      No, but the town is tiny. Just ask around and you should find him Sue.

  2. Serge
    October 24, 2014


    do you book the tour in some company day (in Pana or San Pedro?) before or just found the guide st the bottom of the volcano?

    I am at Pana, and I do not know what to do better – to go to San Pedro and to find some guide there or just book the tour here at Calle Santander.

    • Matthew Karsten
      October 30, 2014

      We booked in San Pedro, from Pedro. Not sure there is an actually company office, just ask around town for Pedro. He’s well known.

      • Serge
        November 6, 2014

        thank you, i used tornado’s excursions, long story, but i can not recommend it to anyone.

  3. Neil Fahey
    March 6, 2012

    Wow… Much nicer than Volcan Pacaya! I wish I had time to leave Antigua now :(

    Thanks for the story and photos!


  4. The Curmudgeon
    November 27, 2010

    Your photos are getting better. No Bruce Lee imitations with a bizarre scarf and a machete. I was going to introduce you to Stephen King. Adventures of the Bald Vagabond.

    If you remember, that Everglades boardwalk had those Bromeliads things on the trees.
    Nine thousand feet in three hours. Was there a tramway? That’s very good time.

    • Matthew Karsten
      November 27, 2010

      The hike wasn’t directly from the bottom, the town itself is part way up the volcano, and we rode a TukTuk up a bit higher to the entrance.

      I don’t think we saw any that had flowers though…

  5. Trish
    November 27, 2010

    Gorgeous views, I loved the guide, pure character. By the way he looked way scarier than your bandito pose. = )

  6. Pat
    November 27, 2010

    What fabulous photos! What am I thankful for-that you hired a guide! So many incredible adventures-how great!

  7. David @ Quillcards
    November 27, 2010

    What an excellent place and great to see the hiker’s-eye-view on the way up to the top.

    I can help with the plant with the red top – it’s a bromeliad.
    Recent Post: The Best Of Leeds- Poverty And Grandeur

  8. Jill - Jack and Jill Travel The World
    November 27, 2010

    OMG,the view looks amazing!! And here I am still recovering from Thanksgiving meals. A 3 hr climb up a volcano sounds just like what I need right now.
    Recent Post: How We Decide Which Countries To Visit — It’s A Big World Out There


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