Chasing The Rising Sun On La Nariz De Indio
I was awake at the ungodly hour of 3 a.m. in the hopes of watching the sunrise over Lake Atitlan from atop La Nariz de Indio (The Indian’s Nose). It was the rainy season and I had waited all week for a clear window. This was my last chance.
La Nariz De Indio (The Indian’s Nose)
There is a dark history to La Nariz de Indio and the crater lake Atitlan that lies below. During the Spanish conquests, the Kaqchikel sided with the Spaniards to defeat their longtime enemies the Tz,utujil. Not long after they became fed up with the Spanish incursion and kidnapped the local Spanish commander. They then paraded him up the mountain and hung him from atop the highest point of La Nariz de Indio.
Mayans have a special word for foreigners that they aren’t particularly fond of. It is very similar to Indio (Indian). The Mountain gets its name from the clear face figure at the top. It represents the Spanish commander lying dead looking up. The brow on the left, the highest point being the nose, and the chin on the right.
La Nariz de Indio (The Indian’s Nose)
I had been staring at that face for over a week and I was more than ready for the weather to clear and give me a shot at some adventure.
A bright pimped out chicken bus packed to the gills would be my transportation up the steep mountainside.
Pimped Out Chicken Bus
The narrow road from San Pedro La Laguna to Santa Clara I would dare to say is the worst road that I’ve ever been on. Crevasse sized potholes cover nearly the entire width of the pavement. The ride was only about forty-five minutes but it felt like hours.
Once we arrived in Santa Clara we hopped out the back of the bus and headed down a small trail leading us through some local farms.
It was dark nearly the entire way up with the trail gaining little to no elevation. Then all of a sudden we hit a turn and it was straight up. A set of switchbacks lead us swiftly up to our base camp just below the nose of the mountain.
Waiting For The Sun To Rise
We sat there chewing on pan dulce (sweet bread) and sipping on some world renowned Guatemalan coffee waiting for the sunrise.
The clouds just kept building and building until we couldn’t see a thing outside the camp. We were all very skeptical of the amazing view promised by our guides.
Just as we were about to give up the clouds started receding. San Pedro and San Juan slowly came into view.
The Clouds Start To Break
The sky started to brighten as we turned our attention to the faint yellows and oranges peaking through the clouds over the mountains to the East.
Come On Sun!
Well … It wasn’t the majestic sunrise over the most beautiful lake in the world that I was hoping for, but it was still a fantastic view.
When you travel it just isn’t feasible to be in every country’s perfect travel weather season. Sometimes you just have to take what you are given and enjoy the hell out of it anyways.
I spent the next half hour snapping as many pictures as I could in the rapidly changing cloud landscape. The town’s buildings and streets were now visible to the naked eye.
San Pedro and San Juan
After what seemed like no time at all it was time to head back down. We rucked up and drudged our way back through the dense vegetation.
Back Down The Mountain
Guide Or No Guide?
If you are like me then when you’re given the choice to go on an adventure with or without a guide you always choose the latter. This was my original plan for hiking La Nariz de Indio, however, once I arrived, even though I resisted to my last breath, my plans changed.
What I didn’t know beforehand was that the land at the bottom and the top of La Nariz de Indio are privately owned and often times travelers are charged any amount of money to go up. It is all at the landowner’s discretion (as well as his workers).
So instead of potentially being charged hundreds of Quetzales by the owner and every worker that I passed, I just bit the bullet and paid for a guided tour. It would end up only costing me 80 Quetzales or $10.90 USD.
Local Farms / Private Property
The tour ended up not being that bad. There was easy transportation, free bread and coffee at the top, and we were told the history behind the mountain and surrounding area. The only downside was not being able to hang out at the top as long as I wanted.
You can book a tour to La Nariz de Indio from pretty much every corner in San Pedro. They will initially ask for Q100, but you can easily talk them down. If you still want to brave the potential costs and go solo, the chicken buses leave for Santa Clara from the church at the top of the hill at 4 a.m. every morning.
Warning: It’s possible to hike La Nariz de Indio from San Pedro, however, the route is riddled with bandits who will more than likely take everything you are carrying. I do hear they are nice about it though.
Thanks For reading!!
Have you been up to La Nariz de Indio without a guide?
If so leave a comment and tell me your secrets.