North America, Photography, Travel

Volcan Paricutin – Angahuan/Uruapan, Mexico

Section 1: The Volcano

One of our bucket list items is to see the various Wonders of the World. Now we can cross our second Natural Wonder off that list: Volcan Paricutin.

This volcano literally sprang up in a field in 1943 and destroyed the two nearby towns. One of which was San Juan Parangaricutiro (now known as Old San Juan). The lava destroyed the entire village, but left the altar of the church intact.

Getting to the volcano requires a 2 hour horseback ride from the nearby town of Angahuan. Once there, it’s another hour to the top then 2 hours back. Luckily for us, the horses we had made the trip interesting.

My horse was a mix between a honey badger and Jesus. I called him Gargles. Erica’s horse was stubborn and did whatever it pleased. Mostly, this meant eating flowers. I called her horse some variation of the following names: Pokey, Fatty, Piggy, Wobbles, Milkshake, and Buttery Nipple. Both horses had been named by their owner, but the names were in the indigenous language of Purepecha and we decided to pick out names ourselves.

Gargles and Milkshake knew the trail to the volcano very well and need little guidance. However, there were multiple paths so much of your job was just keeping them going the same way. The horses were also very accustomed to walking on the sides of the roads/paths to allow for cars to get by. This made for some very scary moments when walking inches away from the edges of cliffs.

Gargles, being the classier of the two, liked to lead the way and take the high roads when available. Buttery Nipple, however, felt inferior when not in the front and would trot until he was returned to the lead. Additionally, after each attempt to pass, Pokey would nip at Gargles with his big ugly horse mouth. But it was fine because Gargles was very forgiving.


Fatty often lost the lead as he would stop to each anything that appeared even remotely edible. No matter how much Erica tried to keep him going, Piggy did whatever he wanted.

While sitting aloft my great beast, I knew I was safe from any danger. If a snake would have made the grave mistake of wandering in our way, it would be his last because Gargles don’t care. He would trample the snake and eat it for good measure. Wobbles, on the other hand, had about as much coordination as the Bad News Bears in their first game.

Valiantly, Gargles brought me back to town safely and with my ass mostly intact. I don’t really know what happened to Milkshake and Erica. Frankly, I lost interest after about the 28th snack break. However, I did see Erica yesterday so I assume she made it back in at least a few pieces.

Section B: You’re Doing It Wrong

Here is a list of shit we didn’t do. Learn from our mistakes.

WEAR SUNSCREEN. It was such a pleasant day outside that we forgot that the sun was trying to melt the flesh off our bodies. We both received burns on par with some of the worst ones of our lives.

BRING A MEAL/SNACK. Including the taxi from Uruapan, you are probably looking at about 6+ hours before you come across any food (there are some food stalls in Old San Juan, if your guide takes you back that route). Luckily we had a couple pieces of candy to help Erica through her hypoglycemic moments.

WEAR A BANDANA OR SOMETHING TO COVER YOUR FACE. The ground is covered with very fine volcanic ash. Although, to be honest, I’m not sure it would help. This ash is very crafty. As you can see from the picture below, it managed to sneak past my shoes and socks without leaving a trace.

LEARN TO QUICKLY STAND UP WHEN YOUR HORSE BEGINS TO TROT. Your ass will thank you. Bouncing on a wooden saddle may sound kinky, but it isn’t as pleasurable as you might think.

BE IN SHAPE. Seriously. The guide stated that it takes about an hour to hike up the volcano because the path starts at about a 45º angle and gets steeper as you go. We learned on our way down that there are multiple paths. The ‘main’ path is sand so your feet slide down several inches before it becomes compacted enough to support your weight. If you can find one, we recommend hiking both up and down the volcano on a rockier path. A walking stick looked helpful as well.

Section Three: WINNING!

It’s a short list, but at least we weren’t total fail.

BRING WATER. Hydration is important. Men’s bodies consist of about 60% water, women 55%. That means we get 5% more of the water. Stop hogging it, it’s simple math.

WEAR APPROPRIATE SHOES. We were both pretty impressed with the first real trial we put our Trail Runners through.

Section Cuatro: What Does It Cost?

If you are wanting to check out Volcan Paricutin, here is a breakdown of the costs involved.

Cab ride from Uruapan: $250 pesos. You can get there by bus and save quite a bit of money, but you have to get up really early and probably take the bus home as well. Your ass will hate you after repeatedly being pounded by the wooden saddle. We gave our cabbie a pretty good tip and he gave his cell phone number to our guide so he could come pick us up when we were done. This was very helpful as we felt like death.

Horseback Guide: $300 pesos per horse and $300 pesos for the guide. Since there were two of us, our total was $900 pesos. You may be able to shop around a bit and save a few bucks, but be prepared to spend around that much.

Section V: ????


Section 6: Profit

It’s just that easy.


Stopped right before the altar.

34 thoughts on “Volcan Paricutin – Angahuan/Uruapan, Mexico”

  1. LOL, glad that Erica made it back! Loved the horse names. Gorgeous photos, and pretty crazy how the lava stopped just before the altar. Hope your sunburns heal quick.

  2. Glad to see you guys slowly starting to check items of your bucket list. It looked like hard work, but well worth the effort though. The sun burn looked like it bit you hard. Nothing worse than having to lug a pack around with sun burn on the shoulders, ouch!

    1. @Jason: Slowly but surely! It will have a few more added onto it over the next few months. The backpack carrying SUCKED.

  3. I AM LMFAO… I know exactly how you feel. My 1st hike up a volcano which really wasn’t a hike I went through all those same problems. No sunscreen, no water, way out of fucking shape…lol it was not cute. Now after my 4th hike I am still out of shape but have got the rest down perfect.

  4. “However, I did see Erica yesterday so I assume she made it back in at least a few pieces.” Made me giggle 🙂

    That volcano looks amazing. I rode a horse to see a volcano in Mongolia (random, I know) but the hike up to the crater wasn’t strenuous at all, just straight up a set of rough stairs…thanks to this post I now have more of an idea what I’m in for once I hit the volcanoes of Central America!

    1. @Megan: The volcano is only 70 years old and really out of the way which is why I think there is no infrastructure like that. I was really hoping for an escalator. 😛

    1. @ Phil – Thanks! Btw, I love the idea of the Camel book. You’re a comedic inspiration! 😀

  5. I love that you have to ride horses to get to the volcano. Reminds me of Red Dead Redemption mixed with like…end of the world exploding volcanos! Love!

    1. @ Sheryll – It totally was! Also, it doesn’t matter what language horses are trained with, they all know what “HYAA!!” means!

  6. AW gargles and buttery nipple… they go together like our Saturday nights. lol @ the post. Shaun made me giggle! also like Saturday nights.

    1. @ Spicy D – Of all the things we miss, your and Zach’s banter is definitely towards the top of the list. <3

    1. @ Sarah – I’m glad we looked happy-ish in the last shot, it took a couple tries before we got a picture that didn’t show how defeated we were by the volcano.

  7. Finally, Shaun’s wicked sense of humor comes through in his writing. I laughed my butt off at work while reading the post.

    1. @ Bethany – Thanks! It’s been a lot of fun helping out with the blog and I’m slowly making progress being able to bring humor into my writing. ^^

    1. @ Lorna – We still don’t know how we spaced out so bad about the sunscreen, I think we were just really excited about our first volcano. Glad you enjoyed the post! 😀

  8. Shaun, you are cracking me up! Nice tan lines, you’ll be trying to even that out for months. BTW glad you found Erica at some point 🙂

    1. @ Ali – Haha, thanks! Unfortunately, I’ve had to deal with ‘farmer tans’ since I used to work as a mechanic. We’re in Veracruz now so I can start trying to add color to the rest of my body, lol.

  9. HOLA, A TODOS LOS AMIGOS NATIVOS Y VIAJEROS DE ANGAHUAN: Por este conducto, les estoy enviando el poema, de mi autoría, denominado: “PARICUTIN”, en conmemoración a los 70 años del nacimiento de ese hermoso coloso purépecha. Espero les guste:


    “¡Ay, Señor de los Milagros, . . . soy uno de tus milagros!”

    Se reventaron las tripas
    de la tierra incandescente,
    se nos tiznaron las milpas,
    Volcán, coloso inmanente.

    De natura fue el encono,
    fragor de pirekua, tono,
    nació un cono muy humeante,
    ¡P’urhépecha, rey vibrante!

    No hubo pena, ni castigo,
    déjenme, les cuento y digo:
    Tata Dionisio Pulido,
    te lo juro, yo no olvido.

    Que tú asististe a mi parto,
    de la mente no te aparto,
    ¡si temblaste junto a mí,
    si viste como surgí!

    Con mis fumarolas prietas,
    huaraches pisaron grietas,
    sobre un anafre, . . . se sufre,
    percibiste olor a azufre.

    Espanté tus sentimientos,
    ¿recuerdas mil novecientos?,
    año del cuarenta y tres,
    del mundo fui el interés.

    Convoqué a muchos famosos,
    toda suerte de curiosos,
    vulcanólogos, pintores,
    poetas de mis amores.

    De Angahuan, hijo adoptivo,
    grandioso, superlativo,
    michoacano por derecho,
    Meseta, mi dulce lecho.

    En geología soy hazaña,
    magma, piedra de obsidiana,
    mineral, vapor, ardiente,
    un fantasma gris latente.

    He suavizado el carácter,
    exhalo por ancho cráter,
    sigo activo, visitado,
    mi lava no se ha acabado.

    Soy turismo, panorama,
    de económica derrama,
    nunca quedaré a la zaga,
    soy cirio que no se apaga.

    San Juan Viejo, iluminado,
    ¡milagroso Dios, amado!,
    enterrado oficias misas,
    a ti brindo mis cenizas.

    Por joven, sigo creciendo,
    Nana Cueráperi, entiendo,
    ¡soy tu entraña, soy tu herencia,
    corazón, fuego, . . . tu esencia!

    Autor: Lic. Gonzalo Ramos Aranda
    México, D. F., 20 de febrero del 2013
    Dedicado a Don Guadalupe Trigo
    Reg. SEP Indautor No. 03-2013-051712171201-14

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