We recently explored Nevada de Toluca and all of the beautiful scenery around it. We hiked around the beautiful craters and took no less than probably 500 photos. After some research online before our trip, we had trouble finding much solid information on all of the logistics.
Thus, we have compiled everything you need to know for a successful trip to Nevada de Toluca!
HOW TO GET THERE
We chose to stay in a hotel in downtown Toluca, about 1.5 hours from Mexico City. You can ride the ETN first class bus from the Poniente station in CDMX straight to Toluca. From downtown Toluca, we hired a taxi to drive us to Nevado de Toluca, wait for us to hike for approximately three hours, and then bring us back to the hotel. The cost was $800 pesos for the taxi. However, this price was originally $900 pesos so it seems the price can vary.
The ride from downtown Toluca to Nevada de Toluca is almost exactly 1.5 hours. It is about 1 hour to the “base camp” overflow parking area, and then another 30 minutes up the winding 16 kilometers to the parking lot. From this higher level parking lot, it is about a 30 minute hike up to the lookout over the two beautiful lakes below. This hike is only about 1 kilometer but fairly steep and since the air is thin, we just took our time. From that top lookout point, you can also hike down to both lakes. This part is also quite steep, a little slippery, and wet/icy at some parts. That said, we wore jeans and tennis shoes and we were completely fine. No actual hiking experience is necessary to get down to the lakes.
Once down at lake level, you can really grasp how huge and beautiful the mountains really are. It is quiet, peaceful, and so incredibly picturesque. We walked down to one lake, and then easily walked around a little bend (no incline in elevation!!) to the other lake area. The climb back up to the lookout it pretty steep as well, but will only take about 20-30 minutes depending on your particular level of fitness. (Or how many churros you may have eaten recently…that can slow ya down!) Three hours was about perfect timing for us. Plenty of time to take all of the pictures we could ever want, eat a snack or two, and explore around the two lakes at the bottom.
WHAT TO BRING
Food—there were no food options when we were there. We packed peanuts, pumpkin seeds, a few granola bars, and a bag of chips.
Water—the sun is really intense and we actually got quite warm (even though it was November when we went and there was snow everywhere!) so pack a bottle of water or two in a backpack
Sunscreen—no joke—the sun is super strong and intense. Even though we put on what felt like an entire bottle, we still ended up getting a tad burnt. (Pro tip: don’t forget your scalp along your hair part-ouch.)
Sunglasses—you’ll want them.
Toilet paper—The bathrooms were…a disaster. I won’t go into too much detail, but these were the worst bathrooms I’ve ever seen and we have seen some bad ones…Lets just say, there was no way you could even sit if you wanted to because it was overflowing with umm….yep…that. Take toilet paper—and try to use the restroom somewhere else before you get to the mountain top if possible. If not, I would find a bush. Yes—it was that bad.
This is where our trip got frustrating and I’m not sure if this happens all of the time or we just happened to get unlucky. At the bottom base camp level, there were lots of people just hanging out there when we arrived around 8:30AM or so. The man at the main entrance gate told us it was $50 pesos to enter. Then when we got into the parking lot (no more than 30 meters past the gate), we drove around to another gate looking thing to continue up the other winding 16 kilometers to near the craters. The man requested $300 pesos for us to pass. These were not official park rangers or police, just people set up here and blocking the entrance. They were charging each car $300 pesos to pass. This is something to be aware and conscious of for your trip. Our taxi driver tried his hardest to negotiate the price for a more fair option, and we ended up paying the man $250 pesos and continued up the mountain.
We left downtown Toluca at 7:30AM sharp and we would highly recommend doing so and arriving to the mountain around 9:00AM. There is only room for around 15 vehicles up at the top and then cars have to begin parking at that lower level. As we were leaving around noon, they were packing people into the back of pickup trucks at the main parking area and charging $50 pesos per person to ride up the 16 kilometers….16 winding kilometers that takes at least 30 minutes to drive up packed in the back of a pickup truck bed did not look like fun…Just plan to get there early and have your taxi take you all the way up. It will be worth it to enjoy the craters and peacefulness with only a few other people. When we arrived around 9:00AM, there were probably 10 people total. As we were leaving around 12:00PM, there were hundreds of people and cars everywhere.
WHAT TO WEAR
We went back and forth from being hot to feeling like our fingers were frozen. The sun is really intense and quite hot and that combined with walking a bit, we were hot. Then as soon as we sat down to eat a snack, we were freezing again! I wore leggings, jeans, and wind pants on bottom, two pair of socks and tennis shoes. On top I had on a camisole, a long sleeve t-shirt, a dry-fit thin pullover, and a fleece hoodie. I also had gloves and a scarf. Now, I took off a few of these layers soon after we arrived, but I would recommend dressing in several layers that you can easily shed if necessary.
WHAT NOT TO BRING
Alcoholic drinks (trust me—you won’t have the oxygen to want to breathe AND drink a beer), drones, or animals—I did see a few people with a dog but the sign at the front says NO animals.
Nevado de Toluca is one of the most incredible things we have ever seen. The best part about it was that you really do not have to be an experienced hiker or hike all day to be able to see all of the beautiful parts about it! An easy day trip from Toluca make this one of my favorite places in Mexico to enjoy nature! (We were home and napping by 2:00PM!) As always, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any other questions regarding your trip to Nevado de Toluca!
Until next time, Have Less. Do More. Be More.