Accessible from Quetzaltenango  are a variety of volcano hikes, including Tajumulco Volcano, which is Central America’s highest and is in the neighboring department of San Marcos. Climbing Santa María Volcano  is one of the most popular trips from Xela, affording excellent views all the way to Lake Atitlán as well as over its active, much smaller neighbor Santiaguito Volcano.
It is very easy to get lost on these peaks so a guide is strongly recommended. )Hikers have gotten lost on the slopes of Volcán Santa María.) Several local companies offer trips.
Highly recommended for volcano climbs as well as excellent tours to area attractions is Adrenalina Tours (13 Avenida and 4a Calle Zona 1, Pasaje Enríquez, tel. 7761-4509 or 7767-2474, www.adrenalinatours.com ). Trips leave with a minimum of four people and include Santa María Volcano ($20 p/p), Chicabal Lagoon ($20), the Santiaguito Volcano lookout ($20), Tajumulco Volcano ($43), and a rockin’ three-day hike to Lake Atitlán  ($67).
Adrenalina Tours can also book plane tickets and Tikal  tours. The company operates shuttle bus service to Antigua , Guatemala City , Panajachel , the Mexican border, and Chichicastenango .
On the first floor as you go up to El Balcón del Enríquez restaurant, Tours del Enríquez (Pasaje Enríquez, tel. 7765-2296) does trips to Santa María Volcano with a minimum of two people for $25 p/p in addition to half-day visits to area hot springs and Mayan villages . It also offers transfer services in private vehicles.
With excellent guides and proceeds that go directly to fund projects that benefit Xela’s street children, Quetzaltrekkers (Diagonal 12 8-37 Zona 1, inside Casa Argentinas, tel. 7765-5895, www.quetzaltrekkers.com ) is highly recommended for its two-day volcano trips to Santiaguito and Tajumulco ($50), three-day treks to Lake Atitlán ($79), and a wonderful six-day highland trek between the villages of Nebaj  and Todos Santos  ($150).
It also does a unique full-moon climb to Santa María Volcano to watch the sunrise ($17). Most trips leave on Saturdays and every other Wednesday depending on demand, but you can always get your own group together.
Travel newcomers enjoying early favorable reviews include Altiplano’s (12 Avenida 3-35 Zona 1, tel. 7766-9614, www.altiplanos.com.gt ) and Icaro Tours (15 Avenida 6-75 Zona 1, tel. 7765-8205, www.icarotours.com ). Upcoming trips are prominently displayed on their websites, taking some of the legwork out of trying to get a group together if you are traveling alone.
The Cerro Quemado, near Quetzaltenango , offers good rock climbing on its 45-meter (150-foot) rock faces known locally as “La Muela.” Routes include traditional climbs as well as sport climbing and are rated 5.07 to 5.13.
Vertical Expeditions (tel. 5801-6871 or 5412-6717) offers one and two days of climbing with a minimum of four people for $75 and $80, including transport from Guatemala City or Antigua, guide, gear, meals, and overnight camping on the latter option.
Antigua-based Old Town Outfitters (5a Avenida Sur #12C, Antigua, tel. 5339-0440, www.bikeguatemala.com ) does a two-day trip for $150, leaving from Antigua and staying overnight in a Xela hotel.
Locally based Quetzaltrekkers (Diagonal 12 8-37 Zona 1, inside Casa Argentinas, tel. 7765-5895, www.quetzaltrekkers.com ) does a day trip for $20 p/p (minimum of four) including gear, transport, food, water, and guides.