Hiking Indian Nose
One of the first activities we’ve done here in Guatemala was an early morning hike at Nariz del Indio, or Indian Nose. This mountain rises 7,385 ft. (2,251 m) above Lake Atitlán, and its name comes from its distinctive silhouette of a man’s pronounced brow and nose.
We joined six other students from our school for an early hike on a Tuesday morning, waking up before 3:30 a.m. to meet our guide, Samuel, and catch a ride to the trailhead. We walked through the darkened streets of San Pedro to find a pimped-out yellow school bus waiting for us, covered in flashing lights, hand-painted bible phrases, and a very loud horn that saw no shortage of use. Welcome to a Guatemalan cooperativa, or “chicken bus.”
After the first stop, a local man joined Michael and I on our small bench seat as we wound through curvy mountain roads filled with potholes the length of small cars. Our bones rattled and our heads shook so much that we looked like bobble heads, though somehow the locals managed to sleep through the turbulence and blaring salsa music piped through the bus’s speakers.
As we passed through some of Lake Atitlan’s smaller towns, curious faces peeked out from behind curtains, illuminated by the bus’s eclectic mix of lighting. Occasionally we’d slow down just enough for a passenger to do a rolling dismount, or for the man perched on top of the bus to re-arrange the luggage strapped to the roof. Michael said that it reminded him of the Night Bus in Harry Potter, which I felt was an apt description.
After nearly an hour, our group of six piled out of the chicken bus with Samuel and set off down a misty path lined by rows of corn and illuminated by our cell phones. The hike was about 45 minutes long and moderately steep, with slippery mud-covered steps towards the end.
As usual, Michael reached the top before I did. I joined him just as the sun crested over the tops of the mountains surrounding the lake, three of which are dormant volcanoes measuring between 9,910-11,598 ft. (3,020-3,537 m). The sky turned pink and orange as thick fog enveloped the lake, making for beautiful views well worth the early morning wake-up call.
Michael also brought his new drone (DJI Mavic Pro) for its maiden flight. I was quite nervous given the limited areas for take-off and landing, coupled with the rolling fog and sustained gusts of wind, but I knew that he made the right call when I saw the birds-eye view streamed to his iPhone. I especially love the first photo below that helps give perspective to Indian Nose’s summit, along with the surrounding volcanoes and the nearby towns of San Juan and San Pedro, respectively.
This is definitely a hike I would recommend, particularly in the morning for the dramatic sunrise views. We paid 80 Quetzales ($11 USD) each for the experience, which included our guide and round-trip transportation from San Pedro. Samuel helped us navigate the unmarked trail, which criss-crosses through back yards and local farmlands. A pair of students from our school tried this hike the following week without a guide, and ended up needing a police escort just to find the entrance! Here’s some more images from this beautiful early morning hike.