This is the part of the site that we wish we had while being on the trip – a compilation of highly recommended outdoor activities. We’ll try to fill this in as we go along our trip. Clearly we’re a bit behind! These are just some of the things we’ve really liked, and it’s definitely not comprehensive. Let us know if there are things you think we should add.
- Nevado de Colima hike
- Volcan Tequila hike. Drive / bike / walk 18km up to the antennas and then easy hike to the top. Info here.
- Volcan Paricutin. Nice hike across a well-marked lava field and then up and around the crater. Info here. You can do this hike for free, no tour necessary. There is a model of the trail in the museum and you can ask locals for the way. GPS track on Strava.
- Guanajuato Overlook hike. Nice hike to the top of the hill overlooking Guanajuato, where the cross is. The trail is easy to follow once you’re on it. Start from the Panoramico at Mina de Rayas (GPS 21.027603,-101.249381), follow the dirt road to the right of the mine, cross over Panoramico at the end of the dirt road, and you should see the trail. If you think you lost the trail, walk towards the cross / uphill (works every time).
- Guanajuato MTB ride at Las Palomas. We didn’t do this one because of some bike issues, but there is apparently a lot of singletrack. There is an entry fee (maybe 10 pesos / person). Visitor center with camp ground here (GPS 21.063793, -101.223937).
- San Miguel de Allende MTB rides. We went on 2 rides here, info was from the local bike shop Bici-Burro, they also do tours. We went on our own, and it’s fine if you have GPS or go back the same way you came.
- First ride was right from the north end of town (GPS 20.925582, -100.740726). Take the dirt road off to the right of the main highway. After a short ride you’ll go through a village (you can ride the “single track” through town). Directions are a bit complicated, best ask at the bike shop. We turned around after some flats, some GPS tracks here.
- Second ride was from La Gruta. Follow the road to Atotonilco (pretty touristy village). Turn left after the plaza, cross a concrete bridge and follow the dirt roads. There is single track off to the sides of the dirt roads. You can ride 50km in a loop here easily. We did a shorter ride, GPS tracks here.
- Best MTB ride in Mexico was Aserrin Woods near Queretaro. A lot of locals here on a weekend with MTB and dirt bikes. Tons of single track. We found the original info here, now there’s a topo map too. Trail head with parking lot here (GPS 20.301445, -100.218223), we got hassled by some kids that wanted money for watching our car, we didn’t pay anything after talking to some other riders. A motorcycle rider showed us the beginning of the trails (should be easy to figure out with the topo map). Awesome place.
- Nevado de Toluca hike. Main info here. You can drive up a dirt road to a refugio at 4,000m. Free camping other than the park fee in front of the refugio. It gets below freezing here at night. The main attraction is the rim traverse, where you cross through the crater, and then hike / scramble around 4,500+ meters on the rim of the crater. Beautiful views of the 2 crater lakes, Nevado de Colima to the west, Izta and Orizaba to the east. It’s not very technical unless you lose the main trail, very little snow when we were there.
- La Malinche hike. We had bad weather here, but other people say you get some of the best mountain views in Mexico here. It’s a pretty steep hike most of the way but not technical, you pretty much walk up in a straight line to the summit. Main info here. Start at the vacation center here (GPS 19.281059, -98.043898), where you can also camp. The trail starts at the entrance gate and goes straight uphill.
- Iztaccihuatl hike. Our first 5,000m peak and a really special one. Main info here. We drove up the dirt road from Puebla with no problems, but there is a paved road from Amecameca as well. Trail head parking at La Joya (GPS 19.133294, -98.652116) at 4,000m. There’s a park entrance fee. We did this as a day hike, starting at 5am. The trail is very easy to follow during the day, somehow we got lost fairly early on and spent about 45 minutes trying to regain the trail (it seemed really silly during daylight when we headed down). There’s a saddle fairly early on that you cross, instead we headed further uphill. You can also camp at a pretty filthy refugio. Later on we got to snow (no steep slopes) at around 5,000m, but no problem with trail running shoes. Beautiful views of Popocatepetl and Orizaba (and Toluca as well).
- Pico de Orizaba. Main info here. We went with a guide on this hike, you need crampons and ice axe for the last 500m elevation. Contact us if you want a guide recommendation, we were really happy with ours. Parking at the guide’s place (also rooms available), they also watched Leika for us. We got a 4×4 transfer to the refugio, you need at least very good clearance for the road up. There is a refugio at 4,200m where we spent the night, you could park your car here (GPS 19.057523, -97.269943). We started at 2am, summited right around sunrise. It’s not very difficult with a steady slope up to the summit. Worth it alone for the view of the summit’s shadow in the distance.
- Pueblos Mancomunados hike. We didn’t end up doing a hike here, but were considering it. There’s good information from the tourist info (GPS 17.065049, -96.725602) in Oaxaca city.
- Ixil Triangle. This is a beautiful area, sort of like Switzerland in Central America. You can do anything from day hikes to 10-day hikes around here, with no guides required. You can buy a guidebook with suggested routes in Nebaj at the Mercado de Artesanias, more info also available at El Descanso. We did a day hike to the town of Acul from Nebaj, visited a dairy farm that was founded by Italian immigrants in the 1930s – highly recommended. It was amazingly tranquil and felt very safe. Trail starts here (GPS 15.406305, -91.154758). GPS track here.
- Todos Santos Chuchumatan. There’s a couple of hikes you can do here, information with photocopied maps available at Hotel Casa Familiar (ask around in town for the place). We hiked La Torre, highest non-volcanic peak in Guatemala at 3,900m. It’s a pretty hike and fairly easy because the starting elevation is already very high. We parked at a church (GPS 15.466365, -91.538880) and the pastor assured us that nothing would happen to the car there. The route isn’t hard to follow, especially if you have the instruction sheet. GPS track here.
- Volcan Santa Maria. Be warned that we’ve heard of armed robberies on trail – went as a group of 4 and nothing happened. We had bad weather, so didn’t get good views but it was a nice workout. Detailed info by our friends JFDI. Trail head with camping / safe parking here (GPS 14.78694, -91.54843). GPS track here.
- Volcan Tajumulco. Same as Santa Maria, we’ve heard of robberies on trail here, and our car got broken into at the trailhead – if you’re going, try to find safe parking in the village nearby (GPS 15.070202, -91.871622). We didn’t have any views on the hike but with nice weather it seems great. Good info from JFDI, again. GPS track here.
- Hike along Lake Atitlan. We stayed at Pierre’s place near San Marcos. From there you can hike along the lake, with amazing views of the two volcanoes. Follow the dirt road until it turns into a footpath, it eventually leads to Jaibalito. Stop by Posada Jaibalito for some German bread at very reasonable prices. Start here and walk east.
- There’s more to do, but a lot of it comes with robbery warnings or guides required and we weren’t in the mood to risk anything.
- El Cocuy. This place was amazing because it was the first time we were back at elevation since Mexico. We did two day-hikes here, but you can also do a multi-day hike that incorporates both our day-hikes. We camped in 2 different places and would highly recommend Hacienda La Esperanza.
- The first day we hiked out to a few lakes on Sendero Lagunillas. You get beautiul views of the valley with craggy peaks all around. Park gate here (GPS 6.4013402, -72.3629238). GPS track here.
- The second day we went to Laguna Grande, very scenic hike with a good amount of elevation gain. You pass by Valle de los Frailejones which has unique flora. Trail head at Hacienda Esperanza (GPS 6.4187214, -72.3541355). GPS track here. Trail is marked on OpenStreetMaps so you can see the trail on your phone. If you only do one hike, do this one.
- Villa de Leyva hike. We camped at Hostal Renacer. They provide free hiking maps that you can borrow. We did a beautiful hike right from the hostel heading up the canyon. GPS track here.
- Valle de Cocora hike. Secure parking and camping here (GPS 4.638145, -75.488157). You can do a nice loop that is very easy to follow. We went counter-clockwise, along a river through some forest, then fairly steep uphill to a mountain hut, and then back downhill. Great views of wax palms. GPS track here.
- There’s plenty more we could have done in Colombia, and we’ll be back here. Examples are Ciudad Perdida (guided), hikes in Parque Los Nevados, climbing Nevado del Tolimo, or a multi-day hike from Salento to Parque Los Nevados (some info here and here).
- Imbabura (GPS 0.2542902, -78.1803913). We had bad weather on this hike but it’s an interesting one. It’s a fairly steep hike to the crater rim and you spend some time traversing to the true summit, marked by a cross. We stayed with Graham who lives on the slope of the mountain. He offered to drive us up to here (GPS 0.26076, -78.14826), so the hike was about 1,300m elevation gain for us. Trail is on OSM. GPS track here.
- Fuya Fuya (GPS 0.133581, -78.293844). A nice and short hike with 2 peaks. There is parking at 4,200m that may not be safe, it felt ok because there were a lot of people around, but be careful. Trail head here (0.1385, -78.27827). Trail is on OSM. The true summit is the western one, it takes a bit of scrambling to get up. The eastern summit is easier and more popular.
- Rucu Pichincha. Easily accessible hike from Quito. Take the Teleferico up to 4,000m, and then follow the signs that say “sendero.” OSM has the trail.
- Pasochoa. A nice hike at (relatively) low elevation, 4 peaks and amazing views of Antisana, Cotopaxi, and the Illinizas. You can do this as a quick hike if you start at the hydroelectric station (standard route). We opted for the longer one, where you can park your car safely at the new park ranger station (GPS -0.42229, -78.519625). There are also free showers here. The route is fairly straightforward in the beginning (route info), also on OSM. There is one part that requires a short exposed climb. You can circumvent this by bushwacking through the forest to the north of the trail – we climbed on the way up and then went around on the way back. This requires good orientation, but GPS helps.
- El Corazon. We didn’t do this one but it sounds nice. You can do a traverse over El Corazon, starting at the train station in Machachi (GPS -0.51880, -78.59988), all the way to El Chaupi. OSM has some trails from Machachi to the summit, and we read in a guidebook the traverse is possible. From the summit, you should head towards here (GPS -0.42229, -78.519625).
- Illiniza Norte is a stunning peak, together with the more technical Illiniza Sur. You can camp at the trailhead at 4,000m (GPS -0.62931, -78.6883). From there it’s easy to follow the trail to the refugio at 4,800m. Head to the right and follow the trail to the peak. Technically you’re required to have a guide to go past the refugio, but it doesn’t seem all that difficult.
- Cotopaxi and Chimborazo. We took a guide for both of these peaks, and highly recommend him (message us if you want the info). These are technical climbs requiring ice axe and crampons. There are a few small crevasses and Chimborazo’s popular route has some rockfall exposure. These were challenging climbs because of the altitude, both required an alpine start before midnight. They were both spectacular, we highly recommend these if you’re properly acclimatized.
- Laguna Cuicocha Loop. An easy hike around the crater lake, starts and ends at the visitor center (GPS 0.29217, -78.35761)
- Laguna Quilotoa Loop. Crater lake loop with parking lot here (GPS -0.86812, -78.91589)
- Cajas National Park. We didn’t go but heard very good things. Some info here, here, here and here.