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Climbing the Nevado de Colima

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The Parque Nacional Volcán Nevado de Colima comprises two spellbinding volcanoes rising north of Colima. The Volcán de Colima (3860m), also known as Volcán de Fuego, is officially still active and smokes from time to time, though there seems little imminent danger. It is far less frequently climbed than its larger and more passive brother, the Nevado de Colima (4330m), which, with its pine- and oak-forested slopes, is popular with local mountaineers during the clear, dry winter months. Unless there’s a lot of snow – in December and January crampons and an ice axe are essential – and provided you are fit and can get transport high enough, it’s a relatively easy hike up to the summit. Joining an organized tour is the hassle-free alternative and recommended for less experienced hikers.

Independently, you’ll need to set three days aside for the climb, take a sleeping bag and waterproofs, pack enough food and water for the trip and walk from the village of El Fresnito. First, take a bus from Terminal Foránea in Colima to Ciudad Guzmán (about 1hr 30min) and from there catch a bus from stall #21 to El Fresnito, where there are very limited supplies. Ask for the road to La Joya – take this and keep right until the route becomes obvious. This rough service road for the radio antennae leads up through cow pastures and goes right past the cabin at La Joya (3500m), about six to eight hours’ walking (35km). You pay the entry fee and can tank up from the supply of running water here, but don’t expect to stay in the hut, which is often locked, and even if open may be full, as it only sleeps six – bring camping equipment. The usual route from here is via a steep climb to the radio antennae (“Las Antenas”), from where it’s another stiff but non-technical walk to the summit. Plan on a day from La Joya to the summit and back, then another to get back to Colima, though a very fit walker starting before dawn could make the trip back to Colima, or at least Ciudad Guzmán, in a day. Note that hitching isn’t an option as the logging roads up here are rough, requiring high clearance or 4WD vehicles, and see very little traffic.

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