Pico de Orizaba Volcano, Mexico

Pico de Orizaba Volcano – View from a Bus

Within moments of the bus leaving the Mexico City terminal bound for Veracruz I was fast asleep. I’d been traveling hard, seeing sights and meeting people by day, cataloging photos and writing by night. An eight hour bus ride meant a welcome opportunity to catch up on sleep. Some hours later I awoke and was surprised to see what appeared to be pollution from Mexico City still floating above the flat horizon like a gray blanket. But there was also something else: a brilliant white point floated atop the layer of grit.

Pico de Orizaba volcano

I blinked a couple of times and rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, suspecting a mirage, but with every subsequent mile the snow-capped pinnacle grew clearer and more impressive, protruding effortlessly and suddenly from a flat plain. My map showed that this was Pico de Orizaba volcano, the highest mountain peak in Mexico, third highest in North America, and second most prominent volcanic peak in the world after Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro. It is considered an active volcano, although it hasn’t erupted since 1687.

The summit and its foothills form Pico de Orizaba National Park, popular with mountain climbers for its numerous routes to the summit and with hikers for the many trails winding though pine forests that cover its lower slopes. The haze, rather than being pollution, occurs because tropical air from the Gulf of Mexico meets cooler inland air at the mountain, creating a persistent drizzle for much of the year and the optical illusion that, from a distance, the mountain is floating in the air.

8 Comments on “Pico de Orizaba Volcano – View from a Bus

  1. Oh – I”m so intrigued now. That’s right between Kilimanjaro (which I failed) and Thorong La (which I accomplished)…hmmmm…the wheels are turning!

    • I know it’s been torture for you to read all these posts when what you really wanted was to be traveling yourself. But soon! And I hope you choose Mexico because it is simply stunning.

  2. Wow – your soul must have woken you up just to you could see it! Do you happen to know the elevation? There are trails to climb to the summit?

    • Hi Sherry: Yes, it’s 18,490 feet high. There are many routes for approaching and climbing the volcano, and it is a favorite with mountain climbers.

  3. Somehow, the more perfect conical mountains that appear to stand alone are the most picturesque and impressive. A little more snow and this could be mistaken for Mt Fuji.

  4. Speaking of Mexican Volcanos…

    One of my favorite places to stay in Mexico is the Hacienda de San Antonio in Colima. It offers one of the most amazingly gorgeous views of an active volcano & it’s designed to feel like a private home; totally environmentally friendly and intimately oriented.

    If you plan on returning to the land of tortillas you might want to check it out: http://www.globalbasecamps.com/mexico/colima-eco-lodge/hacienda-de-san-antonio

    • Jennifer: Thanks for the tip. I’ll definitely check out Hacienda de San Antonio in Colima on my next go-around.

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