La Malinche

East of Mexico City

The long, sweeping slopes of this dormant 4460m volcano, named after Cortés’ now much-maligned indigenous interpreter and lover, dominate the skyline northeast of Puebla, and are visible on a clear day. La Malinche, Mexico’s fifth-tallest peak, is snowcapped only a few weeks each year, typically in May. Hiking here is most popular with families on weekends.

Centro Vacacional IMSS Malintzi, operated by the Mexican Social Security Institute, has 50 cabins, including rustic and ‘luxury’ options, at a frosty 3333m, and is the starting point of most hikes. The family-oriented resort has woodsy grounds and fine views of the peak. The remodeled cabins are basic, but include TV, fireplace, hot water and kitchen with refrigerator. It gets crowded from Friday to Sunday, but is quiet midweek. Prices are about M$100 higher on weekends and holidays. Those not staying can park here for M$40. An on-site restaurant operates from 9am to 9pm.

Beyond the vacation center, the road becomes impassable by car. It’s about 1km by footpath to a ridge, from where it’s an arduous five-hour round-trip hike to the top. Hikers should take precautions against altitude sickness.

The main route to the volcano is Hwy 136; turn southwest at the ‘Centro Vacacional Malintzi’ sign. Before you reach the center, you must register at the entrance of Parque Nacional La Malintzi. Some colectivos to the entrance leave at 8:20am from the town of Apizaco (M$30, 40 minutes) from the corner of Avenidas Hidalgo and Serdan outside Elektra, returning at 1pm, 3pm (Friday to Sunday) and 5pm. From CAPU in Puebla, ATAH buses (M$60) run to Apizaco.

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