Sitting next to the Popocatepetl volcano is the Iztaccíhuatl, it’s the third-highest peak in the country and a volcano as well. The “Izta” (as it’s also known) sits at 5,215 meters above sea level and is only behind the Pico de Orizaba (5,747 meters) and the “Popo” itself (5,426). Iztaccíhuatl gets its name from the Nahuatl language (spoken by the Aztecs), and it means “iztac” (“white”), and “cihuatl” (woman), which put together means the “white woman”, because ever since the pre-Columbine times of antiquity the volcano has been thought of a sleeping woman draped in a white sheet, with the highest point of the mountain located at what would be the “breast of the woman”.

The Iztaccíhuatl is located 55 kilometers southeast of Mexico City and the first recorded summit of the mountain was in 1889, although there is archeological evidence that the Mexica people of Tenochtitlán, and even ancient cultures that came before them, summited the mountain way before 1889. The volcano is part of the Izta-Popo-Zoquiapan national park, which has its main access through the town of Amecameca and in the Paso de Cortés, a road that passes between the Popocatepetl and the Iztaccíhuatl and is said it was the road that Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés passed on his way to conquering the Great Tenochtitlán.

There are day-trips provided by expert travel guides that will have you climbing the Iztaccíhuatl and enjoying some delicious local food in the little village of Amecameca in exchange for 12 hours of your time and around $230 dollars of your money. If you’re looking to climb the Iztaccíhuatl all the way to the top then a professional guide might be your best option, as not only is public transport unavailable to that part, but there are also the inherent risks of climbing a high mountain that are ameliorated by simply knowing the terrain.

But even if you’re not an expert mountain climber don’t be discouraged, there are other tours available for less experienced travelers that want to hike the foothills of the volcano. It’s a good way to spend a Saturday morning if only to just breathe some cool fresh air and get in a nice brisk walk while enjoying the views of this majestic peak; and its neighbor Popocatepetl, and the billowing puffs of smoke it sends into the air.


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