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Climbing Volcano San Pedro – Travel Video Ep. 2

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Enjoy Climbing the extremely steep Volcano San Pedro through an HD adventure travel video from 2 Backpackers, Jason and Aracely Castellani, while visiting Lake Atitlan in Guatemala.  In travel video episode #2, only 2 days into our year long trip, we hike up one of the steepest volcanoes surrounding Lake Atitlan in Guatemala and find ourselves relishing in a most amazing view.  Enjoy the show!

Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

We arrived in Panajachel, one of the towns surrounding Lake Atitlan on Saturday morning. The drive was about 2.5 hours northwest of Antigua, Guatemala. Our shuttle dropped us off at the main street just before the lake’s port. Before the driver had a chance to bring the vehicle to a complete stop, boatmen were on the roof of the van eager to help get the backpacks down. As the group of tourists got off the bus we all claimed our packs from the men who were tossing them down at us. While one man was chucking the bags, two others were offering boat rides across the lake. They named all the surrounding towns so quickly with just one breath making it sound as if it was just one long name. Then another man was offering a tuk-tuk ride to our hostel. It all felt a bit chaotic.

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Streets of Panajachel, Guatemala at Lake Atitlan

Hostels in Panajachel

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St. Francis Church in Panajachel, Guatemala

I asked one of them if he knew were The Jungla Hostel was. With hesitation, he said, “It’s on the other side of the lake.” Jason looked at me, I looked at him. I politely thanked the men and our group of four (Jason, Paulina, Andy and I) walked away to separate ourselves from all of the confusion. We gathered our things, strapped on our backpacks and walked on. I remembered passing a travel agency just a couple of blocks back, so we headed in that direction in hopes of finding our hostel.

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Volcanoes Surrounding Lake Atitlan in Panajachel, Guatemala

There was a man behind the counter; I asked if he knew where La Jungla Hostel was. He picked up the phone and called someone. “Walk down just a few blocks, a man will be at the corner waiting for you,” he told us after hanging up the phone. We walked. As we reached a corner, a man asked, “Paulina?” The reservations were under Paulina’s name, this was our guy, and his name was Jorge. He tried to explain with hand signals where the hostel was, “It’s about a ten minute walk from here,” he said. He took a look at our load with some concern. We were each carrying two backpacks; one large one on our backs and a loaded day pack on our chest. The four of us were Okay with walking but he insisted on driving us. We followed him to a tiny 2-door car. “No bus?” He explained that it was his car and he was personally driving us. We shoved all the backpacks into the trunk, which was never going to close. Then we all squeezed into the car with our daypacks. It was very awkward, but we arrived safely to our hostel. We were very grateful.

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View From Volcano San Pedro of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala

Booking A Hike on Lake Atitlan

Jorge ran the travel agency that manages La Jungla. After chatting with him for bit and comparing prices on tours around Panajachel, we decided as a group to climb to the top of Volcano San Pedro, which is just a 45 minute boat ride across the lake. We paid $15 per person for a round trip boat ride and a pick up truck to take us to the volcano park entrance. The entrance fee was $12.30 per person. Later we realized had we negotiated our own rate with the boatmen at the dock, we could have saved about $10 each. Lesson learned. We scheduled our climb for the next morning.

Crossing Lake Atitlan

The day of our hike started bright and early with a wake up time of 5:30am. We caught the first communal boat out of Panajachel and headed to San Pedro. After an hour boat ride we disembarked and walked up a few steep streets to meet our land transportation. We hopped in the back of a pick-up truck for a short but bumpy ride up the mountain to the park entrance. After paying our entrance fee and being introduced to our Spanish speaking guide we began our three hour hike up the volcano.

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The Tour Group for Climbing Volcano San Pedro at Lake Atitlan

The Climb Up Volcano San Pedro

After just ten minutes of trekking through muddy terrain and stepping up what seemed like endless, steep and rocky steps, we began to sweat and breathe heavily. Our guide on the other hand was completely dry and breathing at the same rhythm as he was when we were first introduced to him. I asked him if he was tired, he said “I get a little tired sometimes, but not too much. We are all used to this though.” The guides climb to the top about three to four times a week during the current low season.

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Aracely Climbing Volcano San Pedro at Lake Atitlan

Pain Sets In

After a half hour into our hike we all looked at our watches and just couldn’t imagine another two and a half hours of this. Still, I kept in close pace with our guide, Jose. Jason, Paulina and Andy were not far behind. Although I was able to keep up with Jose, I will admit I was aching the entire way. My legs were pleading with me not to take another step; my feet were demanding for a moment of rest. I just grabbed on tightly to my walking stick to assist me with some of the steeper rocks and continued up that volcano. I gripped the stick so tightly that I actually gave myself a blister on my right hand.

Putting aside the physical difficulty of the hike, the density of the jungle made it even more unpleasant to be there. Every five minutes I found myself either swatting at the buzzing noises in my ears, smacking the flies, gnats, and other mini bugs away from my face or twitching my head after feeling something land in my hair. Through the pain, the annoyances, and the heat we all continued, we carried on strong, for we were determined to climb up to the top of that unforgiving volcano.

Every so often, I’d ask Jason how he was doing. His new boots were not broken in before this hike and he developed a large and painful blister on his left heel putting the tiny wound on my hand to shame.

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Jason Relaxing Atop Volcano San Pedro at Lake Atitlan

On Top of a Volcano

When we reached the top, we stood at 3,020 meters on a volcano that has been dormant for thousands of years. We were overlooking a large body of water that is surrounded by lush green mountains and three other volcanoes; we were witnessing one of the best views in Guatemala and we had the best seat in the house. After just five minutes of sitting and resting, we forgot all about our trek up and realized we had never felt such peace, just sitting there taking it all in. While laying on a rock, the sun lightly warmed our skin and then a calm breeze cooled us softly. A great feeling of accomplishment kept us company at the top of volcano San Pedro.

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Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Forty-five minutes later we began our descent. This brought a different kind of challenge for us all. Not only were we now using different leg muscles, but our balance was truly put to the test. The rocks, logs, and ground were extremely slippery. Each step brought a threat of slipping and falling right on our bottom. And we did fall, some more often than others. Jose however, he never fell.

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Karl Lherisson says:

Wow what a trip. Just a few months ago my girlfriend and I did a trek from San Carlos, Nicaragua to Los Chiles, Costa Rica. It was a trip on a single engine boat with an open gas container with the captain smoking a cigarette. We got pulled over on the river by soldiers that have a hidden base in the “frontier land” performing random inspections. I hear there are fresh water sharks in Lago de Nicaragua.

SammyK says:

Yay for Antigua! My favorite city in the whole world. And Lake Atitlan is cool too. :) I’m so excited that you guys are taking the time to do video documentation. Keep it up!

Jason says:

Sammy, we loved Antigua! We spent about 3 weeks there!

Melissa says:

Hey, I saw this posting on hoboken411.com. Fellow hobokenite (is that what they say?). Anyway, awesome videos. Can’t wait for more.

Jason says:

I loved Hoboken411 when I lived in Hoboken. I was on the site everyday. We were very excited that Perry put it up on his site.

Robert Castellani says:

Great video! It blows me away that you are able to do this while traveling. Keep them coming.

Rob says:

I’m so jealous! And by the way, that’s an amazing picture of Jason relaxing on the rock!

Aracely says:

I would take credit for the picture, except it took me a few tries to get it right. ; )

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