Just south and ever-so-slightly east of Xela (Quetzaltenango) stands one of Guatemala’s most unique adventure opportunities – Cerro Quemado. This dormant, distinctively-shaped lava dome is part of the Almolonga Volcano, which up until a massive eruption 1200 years ago constituted the highest point in Central America. These days it still tops out at a respectable 3,197 m, so day hikes from the city are always a quick and rewarding possibility for anyone in search of an afternoon adventure. The trail passes through farmland, up volcanic boulders, inside the cliff-face itself and finally out onto the scenic peak of Almolonga. Just be smart and, unless you’re confident in both your abilities and your knowledge of the terrain, seriously consider hiring a local guide.
Quemado’s real ace in the hole, however, is its climbing - tons of well-developed routes hovering around the 5.11-5.12 range and more than a handful of others dipping as low as 5.8. Access to the crag (2,700 m up, mind you) can be arranged in Xela without too much difficulty, however we’ve added some helpful links below to help you get your bearings straight. Just be aware that this volcano is a place of great spiritual significance to many Guatemalans, so you’ll likely be sharing the area with a steady supply of Christian worshippers. As long as religious tunes and curious onlookers don’t bother you, be prepared for an incredibly enjoyable/memorable ascent.