View on Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania last February.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Ottawa, Canada.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Reuniting with Max in Germany on October 1st.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Hike up the 15,300 foot Toluca Volcano

It's not as bad as it sounds, because you are able to drive to the 13,600 foot level!

And we never made it to the top of the highest peak, but we did make it to 14,700 feet, so we weren't far off. Still, it was a great day and we enjoyed the hike and we got some fantastic photos.

The Toluca Volcano is huge. It's not an active volcano, yet it's not considered extinct. They call, it "dormant", but it hasn't had an eruption for 3,300 years. And at 15,300 feet (4,660 metres) it's also Mexico's 4th highest peak.

This photo was actually taken when we were in the area in February of 2012. Fortunately for us, there is very little snow on the mountain right now.

We left Valle de Bravo at about 10:00am. We had a prearranged meeting place with our friends Paco and Oty at 5:00pm in the city of Toluca, so we figured we had lots of time. But the road from the highway to the parking area is really rough and it's pretty slow going. It's only about 12 kms but it took us almost an hour...and then of course we had to come back down!

Yup, that's where we're headed!

The entrance to the Toluca Volcano National Park. It costs 20 pesos ($1.60) per vehicle entry fee.

They even have a camping and day use area. Any size RV could make it to this area, and I asked the guard if it was okay for motorhomes, and yes they do have overnight security. I didn't ask the cost, but if there is even a charge I'm sure it would be cheap.

But the next 12 kms (7 miles) are rough and slow going!

Starting to get pretty high up, you can clearly see the smog line over the city of Toluca.

Made it to the 13,600 foot level! Now it's time to hike!

The road you see in the distance actually goes 5 kms to the crater itself, but it's been closed to traffic due to erosion. You can still walk that way if you choose, or you can do the 2 km shortcut that is steeper. We chose the shortcut.

When you make it up to the ridge, you get a great view of the crater. There are two small lakes in the crater. The high point you see near the top left is the 15,300 mark, but unfortunately we didn't have time to make it that far.

Overlooking one of the lakes.

We're headed to the top of the point in the red circle. If you look closely, you can see four people almost at the top. Can't see them? Here they are...

These guys are almost at the top of this ridge.

Up, up, up. Yes, it is difficult to breathe at this altitude. Feels like someone is standing on your chest! Lots of rest breaks necessary!

Still enough energy to have fun though!

Heading higher.

Great views!

Just to give you an idea of how steep it is!

But we're getting there...

One final push to the top!

Made it! Notice the hat and was a little chilly up there!

Made a little 30 second video for you...sorry you can't make out much of the commentary, but it was windy up there...

It was 2:30pm when we made it to the top of that particular ridge. We were over 14,600 feet. There is a trail that goes all the way around the rim of the volcano, reaching the highest point at 15,300 feet, but we didn't have time to do that! So we headed back down the way we came. Even then, we arrived at our meeting place in Toluca at 4:50pm, and Paco and Oty showed up shortly after that, so it worked out perfectly! Toluca has a lot of traffic and so it was easiest to follow them to their home.

Following Paco and Oty through the busy Toluca traffic.

We all took the bus downtown (7 pesos, 56 cents each for the half hour bus ride)  to see some of the sights in the evening.

The queen and her throne.

Toluca cathedral.

Lots of people out enjoying a nice Friday evening.

What a busy day we had! Slept like a rock last night. Looks like we've got another busy day planned for today, but you'll have to wait until tomorrow to hear all about it!


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you Contessa, it was one step at a time.

  2. Yup. "Wow".
    Keep smiling Ruth.
    You can fool some of the people some of the time.

    Slept like a rock? I guess likely.
    Thanks for taking me there.

    1. We have pictures to prove it! Yes, we slept well.

  3. What gorgeous photos. Congratulations to you both for a great hike.

  4. That was an awesome tour thanks for the great pictures.

  5. That air gets pretty thin at about 10K feet. Hard to get more oxygen out of it.

  6. We never got a chance to tour a volcano when we were in Costa Rica 3 years we will do this tour for sure next winter. Do you recall at what elevation the trees and shrubs quit growing?...I'm sure it's a similar elevation to our Cdn Rockies...but wonder if the native vegetation is different...thanks for your time!

    1. It was about 4100m (13,450ft) that the trees and shubs quit growing. After that we saw lots of grass and rock.

  7. Yup - the volcano hike is pretty neat - we'll have to add it to the list! Well done and thanks for the great photos!

  8. The last I heard there are 54 mountains in Colorado over 14,000 feet but I don't recall any as high as 14,700 so consider getting up that high an accomplishment. With every step you need more oxygen but there is less so going gets slower and slower. In CO we often skied over 10,000 and up as high as 12,000 and maybe higher but never 14,000. We always enjoy the view at altitude.....B&S

    1. Other than Alaska the highest peak in the United States is Mount Whitney, California at 14,505ft (4,421m). We did find the hiking slow but as long as we took rests often and drank water we felt fine. Coming down after in the car we both felt like we had slight headaches. Definitely enjoyed the beautiful views.

  9. Incredible!!!!! I have climbed Mt. Lassen in Northern California twice but it is only 10,500 feet. You are so lucky.

    rocmoc n AZ/Mexico


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