The Nevado de Toluca Volcano, also named Xinantécatl (“naked man” in Nahuatl) is one of the four highest Mexican peaks and is also considered as a sacred mountain because of important archaeological discoveries in its lagoons. Archaeologists have found underwater remnants of ancient cultures such as vegetable fibers, resins, wood and basketry that have provided important information about the rituals held here by pre-hispanic cultures.
There are several options for hiking the Nevado de Toluca. The easiest is to arrive by car, allowing you to hike just a short 1.5-kilometre trail to reach the crater. You can take a taxi from Toluca for around 800 pesos and ask the driver to wait for you while you enjoy the day. Alternatively, you can take the bus from Mexico City to Toluca and then catch a local bus to the base of the mountain, which would mean a longer and more strenuous hike to reach the crater. Whichever option you choose, the Nevado de Toluca is stunningly beautiful and rewards visitors with panoramic views over its two lagoons.
I decided to organize an excursion with a group of friends and we opted to take an early bus from Mexico City to Toluca, departing at 5:30 am. Then we caught a local bus to the entrance of the path to Nevado de Toluca. We had to walk about an hour to reach the trailhead, followed by another 2 and a half hours to reach the crater. The trail reaches a breathtaking height of 4,680 meters above sea level with wonderful views of the Valley of Toluca, Ajusco Mountain and the rolling hills of Veracruz and Oaxaca.
We were awestruck by the beautiful colors of the Sun and Moon Lagoons and their contrast produced by the stones with greenish crystal blue waters. During the winter, the peaks of “El Nevado” are covered in snow, however we went in April so we were not lucky enough to see the snowy peaks.
The protected area covers 51,000 hectares and is inhabited by opossums, coyotes, reptiles, squirrels, rabbits, rodents and birds. Unfortunately we didn’t see any animals, but if you’re lucky you might have the chance.
After the strenuous hike, we were too tired to walk all the way back down, but we caught a ride back to Loma Alta village for 100 pesos per person. From here we hopped on a local bus back to the Observatorio subway station in Mexico City. We were lucky to catch a ride back, since there are no taxis or local transportation in the area.
If you’re looking for a more adventurous excursion, there are also options for mountain biking, four-wheeling, horseback riding, camping and more in this pristine and unforgettable place.