Lake Atitlan has beautiful hikes at a variety of levels. The two most popular hikes with our guests are Cerro de Oro and San Pedro Volcano.
Cerro de Oro hike
Cerro de Oro is a sweet village that doesn’t even make it on to most tourist maps. It has no hotels or restaurants. It’s the closest village to Lake Villa Guatemala, and our workers come from there. It is a Tzutujil village.
Cerro de Oro (Hill of Gold) is named for the hill that is its distinguishing feature. Some geologists say that the hill is a parasitic lava dome from Atitlan volcano, but others say it is an ancient volcano in its own right.
The locals call Cerro de Oro the Elefante Dormido (sleeping elephant) because of its shape. The hill’s shape inspired Antoine De Saint-Exupery’s “boa constrictor digesting an elephant” in his book The Little Prince.
We can arrange for a local guide to take you up the hill. You’ll stop at the ancient Mayan altar (where ceremonies are still performed) and the mirador, with beautiful views of the lake. You may make it to the carved rock at the top, which some guides say is an ancient map. Though it’s a short distance, this is a steep hike that can be slippery on the way down.
San Pedro Volcano Hike
A guest once told me she wanted to hike San Pedro because she read on a website that it was a good hike for middle-aged people. Sure, if you’re a middle-aged person who works out every day and is fitter than 95% of the population.
This is a strenuous hike. It goes up and up. The views at the top are spectacular if you have a clear day—and clouds can quickly move in around the top of the volcano. The trail is well-maintained, and there are great guides who will offer encouragement along the way.
Some say it takes three hours to go up and an hour and a half to come down. Those people must have really good knees. I hiked with two guests who are around my age, and it took us as long to get down as to get up….about six hours total.
Though well-maintained, the trail can be slippery. Expect to be sore for a couple of days after this hike.