Indian Nose Sunrise Hike - worth waking up early for!
There are many hikes you can do in Guatemala; however, while in Lake Atitlan, you definitely cannot miss out on the Indian Nose sunrise hike! Those who know me know that I am definitely not a morning person - I mean, who wants to wake up at 3 am for a leg workout...while on vacation?! That being said, I will do anything for a great view!
About the Indian Nose hike
The Indian Nose viewpoint sits at 2,863 meters (9,393 feet), looking over San Pedro, Santa Clara and San Marcos. The name comes from the fact that the profile of the mountain looks like a sleeping Indian, with the highest point being the nose (hopefully the photo below helps explain what I mean).
There are two options for this hike:
- First option (~30 minute) from Santa Clara (the more common option and the option we chose)
- Meet in San Pedro La Laguna and take a chicken bus or shuttle to Santa Clara La Laguna (will be organized by your guide if you choose to go with one)
- Santa Clara sits at a much higher elevation than the other villages. From here, it’s an easy half-hour hike
- Second option (~1.5-3 hour hike) from San Juan.
- The trail San Juan trail is not an easy hike, especially when it’s dark outside. You begin your hike at lake level with steep, narrow, rocky trails all the way up to the top.
You can do this hike at any time of the day but for the best view, do the early morning sunrise hike! We had to get up at 3:00 am but the views were worth it! You can do this hike with a guide or without a guide - we chose to go with a guide as we read that the trails aren’t clearly marked and it’s not unheard of for robbers to hold up unsuspecting hikers.
We chose to go with Big Foot and paid 80 Quetzales (about $11 USD) for a private shuttle and a guide in San Pedro. There are a number of other tour agencies offering similar deals (range from 80Q to 120Q) with private tours being more expensive. Tip: Make sure to ask the tour agency if you'll be taking a private shuttle or a chicken bus to get to Santa Clara.
We met our guide outside of our hotel at 3:45 am and took a shuttle at 4:15 am, which brought us to the entrance of Santa Clara at 5 am. After that, prepare for quick 30 minute but steep climb up to the viewing point.
We sat by the fireplace and drank coffee and bread (provided by Big Foot) and watched as the sky changed from black to orange to pink to yellow to blue. It was a spectacular sight watching the villages come to life as public boats started their morning service.
One thing to note is that with Big Foot, we noticed we didn't actually climb to the ‘Nose' part of Indian Nose but we had climbed to the mouth. It was a breathtaking view regardless; however, for those who want to climb to the top, you might be better off choosing a different tour company.
We left the top at around 7:00 am and after a 30 minute walk back down to the private shuttle and 45 minute drive back to San Pedro, we arrived back in time for breakfast at 8:15 am.
Indian Nose Travel Tips
What to bring
As this hike starts before sunrise, bring a flashlight and dress in layers to make this experience more enjoyable.
Here’s the full list of what we brought on our hike:
- Bring a flashlight. Your guide might offer one but bring one just in case as it’s pitch black outside on the trails. You can buy small LED ones in Pana for 30Q
- Layer, layer, layer - it’ll be chilly in the morning while you hike; however, will start to warm up before you know it
- Bring a rain jacket in case it rains
- Long pants to help ward off bugs
- Bug spray, put it on prior and bring a little with too.
- Wear shoes with grip - hiking shoes preferable if you have them. It can be slippery in the morning and there are some parts that are steeper
- Water & snacks are essential - treat yourself once you reach the top!
- Camera - there will be plenty of photo opportunities to capture to the mesmerizing orange and pink sky so don’t forget to bring along your camera or phone
- Sun comes out above the mountain at 6 am, so plan to be at the top at 5:30 am
- For this hike, it’ll be easiest to base yourself in San Pedro or San Juan. If you base yourself in any other village, you will have to arrange a private boat