Hiking the Iztaccihuatl Volcano in Mexico

Hiking the Iztaccihuatl Volcano in Mexico

Since arriving in Mexico City, I’d practically hit the ground running. I got a little personalized tour of the historic district, rode the hop-on/hop-off bus around the whole city, and took a day tour to Teotihuacan. To say I was having the time of my life would be a complete understatement. Check out parts one, two, and three to read more about those experiences.

Amigo Tours

Day Four – Hiking the Iztaccihuatl Volcano

Iztaccihuatl Volcano

I woke up on my fourth day in Mexico City not realizing it was going to be one of the most exhausting, yet exhilarating days of my life. Just like the day before, I had to be at Hostal Amigo bright and early to catch my tour to the Iztaccihuatl Volcano with Amigo Tours once again. Like I mentioned in my previous article, I highly recommend Amigo Tours for any excursions based out of Mexico City. They are prompt, organized, and run things safely and smoothly.

This time, only Tito was our guide. His eccentric attitude kept everyone in the group eager and motivated to begin the trek. Unlike the previous tour to Teotihuacan where everyone was packed like sardines on a tour bus, this time only a handful of us were loaded into a rather large van. It was certainly a more comfortable experience. As we set off, Tito went over some of the ground rules and what to expect during the hike.

Since I had previously hiked for four days to Machu Picchu a little more than a year prior, I only half-listened to Tito’s speech. I mean, I was practically a pro at hiking, right? The answer is no. I was a damned fool. In less than a few hours, Iztaccihuatl would make me its b****. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t try this excursion if you’re not in the best of shape. Just know that it isn’t for the faint of heart. I would definitely train for it a little bit for it a few months beforehand. 

Approaching Iztaccihuatl Volcano

As we approached Izta-Popo Zoquiapan National Park, we had a clear view of Iztaccihuatl. Although the Iztaccihuatl volcano is dormant, I was still expecting to see that classic cone shape that every volcano has. Iztaccihuatl is more of a very rocky mountain. However, Tito explained to us that the volcanic mountain is Nahautl (the Aztecan language) for “White Woman” because it resembles a woman sleeping on her side. Once I noticed that, it totally blew my mind and took away any sliver of disappointment I had. Don’t worry, I’d actually get to see an active, cone-shaped volcano very shortly.


We pulled into the visitor’s center for a bathroom break and to get a rundown of the park and the trail we’d be taking. As I hopped out of the van, I kept staring at Iztaccihuatl, fascinated by the silhouette of the sleeping woman and also eager to begin our hike. But when I turned around, my jaw hit the floor. Towering over us was Popocatepetl, an active volcano and the second highest peak in Mexico. It had that classic cone shape and even a slight haze of smoke billowing from the top. I couldn’t stop taking pictures of it. Funny enough, the volcano erupted less than two months after this hike.

Searching for Views of Popocatepetl

I was now more excited than ever to begin the hike because I knew that the higher we got on Iztaccihuatl, the better the views would be of Popocatepetl. And so, after a short drive from the visitor’s center, we arrived at the base of Iztaccihuatl. The bright blue sky made the snow-capped volcano mountain pop. Where my hike to Machu Picchu was more slow-paced and rhythmic, Tito started flying up the mountain like a bat out of hell. 15 minutes into the climb, I was gasping for air and my legs were burning. Not once did I want to give up, though. I pressed on with the group.

As the hike continued, the views became increasingly picturesque. Tito luckily gave us some time to rest a little and take some photos of Popocatepetl in the distance. He also explained to us that the saddle between Iztaccihuatl and Popocatepetl was known as the Paso de Cortes. It’s where the Conquistador Hernan Cortes and his army passed through on their way to the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City).

Volcano in Mexico

As we trudged on, the trail began getting steeper and rockier, and I started falling behind in the pack. Man, this hike was a lot tougher than I had imagined. I had to stop a few times to collect myself before carrying on. After about an hour of this we started nearing our endpoint. Thank God, too, because I was afraid that if we went on any longer, my legs would give out. And before anyone makes fun of me, I was not the last person to reach the top! Nonetheless, I did have to sit on a rock for a while to catch my breath before enjoying the majestic view of the valley and Popocatepetl.

Back Down the Volcano

Hiking the Iztaccihuatl Volcano in Mexico

We stayed up there for about thirty or forty minutes chatting and getting to know one another. We had a very diverse group of people from all over the world. I wished we could have hung out at the top longer, but Tito was pushing for us to head back down Iztaccihuatl so we could enjoy a nice surprise lunch he had planned for us. Luckily, going down was a whole lot easier. Despite that, though, I slipped on a rock and jammed my big toe. It still hurts to this day but it makes for a good story, no?

mexican food tour

After taking one last gaze at Iztaccihuatl and Popocatepetl, we piled back into our van and exited the national park. We stopped at a small hut just outside the park where a family was waiting for us. They were preparing all kinds of traditional Mexican food: tacos, burritos, enchiladas, etc. I tried as much of it as I could along with a variety of different types of hot sauces. It was really delicious and a great way to end the day after an exhilarating experience. 

The excursion to the volcanos was an exciting one even though I didn’t expect to struggle as much as I did. The best part of adventures is pushing your body and mind and getting out of your comfort zone. It may suck in the process, but you will leave a much better person. You’ll be filled with motivation and confidence in yourself that you can’t get by playing things safe.

Thank you for taking the time to read this part of my trip hiking the Iztaccihuatl volcano in Mexico! Stay tuned for next time where I enjoy a night out courtesy of Casa Pepe and a wonderful food tour!


49 thoughts on “Hiking the Iztaccihuatl Volcano in Mexico

  1. That would be such an amazing adventure! I’ve been to Mexico several times, but I’ve always stayed on the coast. I’d love to do that!

  2. What an amazing view and adventure it must have been to hike a volcano! This is something my husband would love to do.

  3. After hiking up the trail to Pulpit Rock in Norway, I can definitely relate to what you mean about a tough hike. The difference in Norway though was that everyone (including their tourism information) all regarded the hike as easy – something that many will attest was just not true, and many turning back before reaching the top. Great that everyone in your group seems to have made this and the tip about getting prepared beforehand is well made. Love the natural beauty you captured here in your photos. Looks like the effort is well worth it.

    1. It’s a shame the tourism company regarded the hike as easy when it was quite the contrary. I’m sure a lot of people weren’t thrilled. I do always recommend training a little before any hike. You never what terrain you’ll come across! Thanks for you reading!

  4. Beautiful and nice weather, I am glad that you had a wonderful experience and the pictures are great. Wish I will be able to visit there myself some day! – Knycx Journeying

    1. I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day! I hope you are able to go as well! It’s an unforgettable experience. Thank you for reading!

  5. I did a hike similar in St Lucia years ago and when you got to the top there was an entire food spread waiting for you. It made the climb that much better knowing there was a food payoff at the end. The views from the top of Iztaccihuatl Volcano are spectacular. I’m sure the pictures don’t do it justice.

    1. Oh my god.. I WISH there was a food spread at the top for us! Heck, even a water fountain would have been nice! Unfortunately no, we only had the snacks and drinks we brought with us. And you are very right: the pictures don’t do an ounce of justice. It’s crazy how high up you really are. Thank you for taking the time to read!

  6. Dude, i’m hooked! Fantastic post and photos. Stoked you had a great trip. Can’t wait to explore Mexico in-depth. Viva la Mexico!

  7. What gorgeous views! I didn’t realize that Mexico even had a volcano. How far was the hike (miles/kilometers) and how long did it take to get to the top?

    1. There are actually close to 77 volcanoes in Mexico! The hike was about 8 miles. Not a huge distance, but the trails were very steep which made trekking slow. I believe it took ~3 hours to get to the top but only an hourish to get back down. Thank you for reading!

  8. Mexico is a great country to explore. Thank you for sharing your experience. Seems like you’ve really enjoyed your travels!

  9. this place loooks really superb. i am a fan of mountains and i am really eager to go back exploring!! <3

  10. I have only climbed 2 mountains in my life, neither one was huge. I would love to do this again someday. Your pictures are awesome!

    1. There’s nothing more exhilarating than climbing a volcano. I highly recommend it and hope you are able to someday! Thank you for reading!

  11. what a great experience getting to hike up a volcano. it is too bad you could not have lunch on top of the volcano. that would have been cool.

    1. I agree! That would have been awesome. At the very least there could have been a guy selling water haha

  12. I’ve heard about this place many times but I think that this is the best set of photos I’ve seen. I really enjoyed reading about this nature wonder from your personal perspective, I wish this place was a bit closer to where I live so I could visit soon.

  13. I haven’t been in Mexico! This is the first time I heard about Iztaccihuatl Volcano. It must have been a great experience hiking it!

  14. WOW this looks amazing. I love your piccys and I would love to visit Mexico one day when the travel restrictions lift x

  15. This would be an adventure right up my alley! I love the natural beauty of the area, and the surprise lunch at the end sounds really delicious as well. Plus, I’ve also started learning Spanish a few weeks ago, so visiting a Spanish-speaking country is definitely on my to-do list once the restrictions lift.

    1. It sounds like this would be the perfect adventure for you! I find Mexican Spanish to be on the slower slide so it’s great for a beginner to try out their new language skills! Hope you are able to give it a shot one day!

  16. Looks like a dream to me! i want to visit Mexico badly and hiking is a passion of mine! I can’t wait to be able to travel again

  17. What a experience. I would love to visit that place. Nature and views are mind blowing. Thank you for sharing your story and photos, which are amazing btw 🙂

  18. Wow, that must’ve been a wonderful experience to fully climb up to the top. The view looks absolutely beautiful!

  19. When I think of Mexico, volcanos and hiking are not the first things that come to my mind. Which is why I’m so glad I read this post and learned so much! The views are beautiful, but I’m sure the photos don’t do those kind of views justice. It is something you have to experience being there. I’m proud of you for making it through and completing the journey. Challenging things like that definitely do suck in the process, no one can argue that. But the feeling of accomplishment when you are done just can’t be beat, making the entire experience totally worth it.

    1. Very well said! I certainly would have never known about the volcanoes if I hadn’t done my research. I was surprised when I found out, too, because like you said, it’s not the first thing you think of in Mexico. I wish I had a better camera to capture how beautiful the scenery was. Maybe one day I will go back better prepared. Thank you very much for reading!

  20. This looks like such an incredible hike. With views like that, who wouldn’t want to experience it at least once in their life. Right? My husband and I are both big time outdoor travelers, loving camping and hiking more than five star resorts and shopping sprees. This is right up our alley! Anything worth doing is going to challenge you, but the reward makes it worth every step you took.

    1. I completely agree with your philosophy! I’ve never felt any sense of accomplishment from something that came easy. It’s the things that push us to our limits and challenge us at every step that are worth it. Thank you for reading!

  21. You took the trip of a lifetime! I’ve always wanted to hike in South America since the altitude is more challenging! Adding Iztaccihuatl to my bucket list!

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