Indian Nose hike is one of the most popular things to do when visiting Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. This area is also known as La Nariz del Indio in Spanish. The hike gets its name because it looks like a lying Indian with his face pointing upwards. The tallest part (the nose) is where you will be hiking to. Indian nose is a very popular sunrise hike as well and I highly recommend doing it this way. Before the sun peaks over the mountains upon the lake, you can see Volcan Fuego in the distance. If you’re lucky enough, there will be a big explosion that you will be able to see the intense lava.
Easily spotted from the town of San Pedro, once you hike it, you won’t be able to stop looking at it when staying on the lake. If you are able to, opting to hike both the sunrise hike (short) and the trail from San Juan (long) during the day is a cool way to see both. Below I will explain more information you will want to read before attempting the Indian Nose hike.
How to Get to Indian Nose
When visiting Lake Atitlan, the most popular town to stay at is San Pedro (especially the backpackers). No matter where you’re located on the lake, getting to Indian Nose is very easy.
Indian Nose Hike from Panajachel
Depending on which Indian Nose hiking trail you end up taking, will determine which stop to get off. Any hostel or hotel will have guides they recommend and they will take care of most if not all of the transportation. If doing it by yourself, you will take a boat taxi to San Juan. Go to the Mirador de San Juan, pay the entrance fee, and once at the top, hook a left. This is the longer trail.
Indian Nose Hike from San Marcos
For the shorter trail, take a tuk-tuk to Santa Clara and start from there. This will cost you 10-15 Quetzales one way. If wanting to do the longer trail, then follow the steps above.
Indian Nose Hike from San Pedro
For the longer hike, take a tuk-tuk to San Juan Mirador for 10-15 Quetzales. If wanting to do the shorter hike then take a boat taxi to San Pablo and then tuk-tuk to Santa Clara. We stayed in San Pedro but opted to do the sunrise hike with a guide.
Indian Nose Hike Details
- Distance: 2.7 miles (longer hike) / 1.7 miles (shorter hike) out and back
- Time: 2 hours + (longer hike) / 45 minutes – 1 hour (shorter hike)
- Elevation: 1614 feet gain (longer hike) / 515 feet gain ( shorter hike)
- Difficulty: both are rated as moderate on all trails. It can definitely seem difficult for those who are not in great hiking shape.
Is a Guide Necessary for Indian Nose?
If you have already looked into doing the Indian Nose hike as well as other ones surrounding the lake, you probably have read about people encountering “bandits”. This has been true for hikes such as San Pedro in the past and there are reports of people asking for upwards of 50 Quetzales when hiking Indian Nose. This hike goes through private property and so sometimes the people living here will ask for money. You can try to do this hike without a guide and see if anyone charges you but you will probably save time and money by paying for a guide. We went through one at Hostel AmiGos and it cost 100 Quetzales.
How much does Indian Nose Tour Cost?
The total cost all depends on if you’re going with a guide and if not, which route you choose to do. I will go over the costs without including the transportation to get to the trailhead. If you hike alone through the longer route via San Juan, then the cost will be anywhere between 10 – 80 Quetzales. This all depends on if someone charges you up top. It is going through multiple properties so the price could even exceed 100 Quetzales. I suggest you take a guide because it is safer and cheaper. We paid 100 Quetzales which makes it cheaper than these options because it also included transportation. We had to be ready outside of our hostel at 4 am but well worth it.
My Suggested Hiking Gear
Below is a list of some of my favorite hiking/travel gear I bring everywhere. Everything below is something I currently use and never leave my house without.
- KEEN Durand II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots: I finally upgraded my hiking boots in 2022 and these are fantastic. They have top-notch ankle support and are super durable.
- Petzl Tikka Headlamp: A headlamp for hiking is a must if you’re like me and love sunrise hikes. This is a great price for a quality headlamp and also has a good red light to not disturb others in the morning.
- Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks: I originally got these as a present but I had to buy more because these are the most comfortable hiking socks I’ve ever tried on.
- Grayl GeoPress Water Filter Bottle: You will never have to rebuy plastic water bottles. This is the best water filtering device on the market. It is excellent for hikers and travelers alike.
Which Indian Nose Hiking Trail to take?
Santa Clara Trail (short)
The Santa Clara trail is ideal for the sunrise because you don’t have to start as early. It is the shorter of the 2 and this is where the guide will take you for sunrise. Unfortunately, I don’t have many photos of the hike on the way up as it was very dark.
San Juan Trail (long)
I would opt for the San Juan trail if you want to see more of the landscape rather than just a spectacular view. If I went back I would do the longer trail instead.
An Alternative to Indian Nose Hike
If you end up doing the long trail for the Indian Nose hike then you will actually also do this one. Mirador de San Juan La Laguna (also known as Mirador Kaqasiiwaan) is a great alternative to doing Indian Nose. The hike is only .8 miles and you will be walking on steps the entire time. The cost is between 10 – 30 Quetzales. We paid 30 each but we may have gotten ripped off. I will be better at Spanish very soon, I promise. This portion still has an amazing view of the lake, San Juan, San Pedro, and the volcanos. Below are some images from that hike.
Other Fun Activities To Do Around Lake Atitlan
Lake Atitlan is a very special place and has a lot to offer. There are many different hikes, cooking classes, knitting, and Spanish schools that people come from all around the world to do. Below are some of the best tours to do in the area in and around San Juan La Laguna on Lake Atitlan.
Final Thoughts on Indian Nose Hike
Overall I really loved the Indian Nose Hike. It was our first major activity while visiting Lake Atitlan and I thought it was a great way to see the area from the get-go. I really want to go back and do the other route, to see the area from a different way. Any hike with a view is better for sunrise but I was itching for a little more. It is something you have to do if you come to Lake Atitlan and you won’t regret it.
Thank you for reading my guide on Indian Nose Hike! I hope this information has helped you when making a decision on hiking this trail.