Inland Colima, capital of the state of the same name and 100km from Manzanillo, is a distinctly colonial city, and a very beautiful one too, overlooked by the perfectly conical Volcán de Colima and, in the distance, the Nevado de Colima. With a handful of sights inside the city limits and interesting excursions nearby, it’s a pleasant place to stop over for a night or two. In addition, Colima’s Old World ambience, favourable climate – cooler than the coast, but never as cold as in the high mountains – and several good-value hotels and restaurants also make it an appealing destination.
Archeological evidence – much of it explained in the city’s museums – points to three millennia of rich cultural heritage around Colima, almost all of it wiped out with the arrival of Cortés’s lieutenant Gonzalo de Sandoval, who, in 1522, founded the city on its present site. Acapulco’s designation as the chief Pacific port at the end of the sixteenth century deprived Colima of any strategic importance; this, in combination with a series of devastating earthquakes – the most recent in 2003 – means that the city has few grand buildings to show for its former glory. It makes up for this with a chain of shady formal plazas called “jardíns” – Colima is known as the “City of Palms” – and a number of attractive courtyards, many of which are now used as restaurants and cafés and make wonderfully cool places to catch up on writing postcards.Read More
The best time to be in Colima is on a clear winter day when the volcanoes in the Parque Nacional Nevado de Colima dominate the scenery to the north. Climbing them, while not that difficult, needs some planning. You can get a closer look, however, by spending an afternoon at Comala, a tidy, quaint town, 10km north of Colima. Here, in the central plaza, you can sip a beer or margarita while enjoying a fantastic view of the mountains and listening to mariachi bands competing for your business.
A thirty-minute stroll out of town, in the Centro Cultural Nogueras, the Museo Alejandro Rangel Hidalgo (t312/315-6028) has an engaging display of the eponymous artist’s work as well as pre-Hispanic artefacts from Hidalgo’s personal collection. Known for his evocative book illustrations, he drew the pictures for the classic Mexican novel Pedro Páramo, which was written by his close friend Juan Rulfo and set in Comala (Hidalgo died in 2000 at the age of 73).
Climbing the Nevado de Colima
Climbing the Nevado de Colima
The Parque Nacional Volcán Nevado de Colima comprises two spell-binding volcanoes rising north of Colima. The Volcán de Colima (3860m), also known as Volcán de Fuego, is officially still active and smokes from time to time, though there seems little imminent danger. It is far less frequently climbed than its larger and more passive brother, the Nevado de Colima (4330m), which, with its pine- and oak-forested slopes, is popular with local mountaineers during the clear, dry winter months. Unless there’s a lot of snow – in December and January crampons and an ice axe are essential – and provided you are fit and can get transport high enough, it’s a relatively easy hike up to the summit. The most popular option is to ascend the Nevado de Colima from the cabin at La Joya (3500m); the usual route is via a steep climb to the radio antennae (“Las Antenas”), from where it’s another stiff but non-technical walk to the summit.
Independently, you’ll need to set three days aside for the climb, take a sleeping bag and waterproofs, pack enough food and water for the trip and walk from the village of El Fresnito. First, take a bus from Terminal Forañea in Colima to Ciudad Guzmán (about 1hr 30min) and from there catch a bus from stall #21 to El Fresnito, where there are very limited supplies. Ask for the road to La Joya – take this and keep right until the route becomes obvious. This rough service road for the radio antennae leads up through cow pastures and goes right past the cabin at La Joya, about six to eight hours’ walking (35km). You pay the entry fee (M$20) and can tank up from the supply of running water here, but don’t expect to stay in the hut, which is often locked, and even if open may be full, as it only sleeps six – bring camping equipment. Plan on a day from La Joya to the summit and back, then another to get back to Colima, though a very fit walker starting before dawn could make the trip back to Colima, or at least Ciudad Guzmán, in a day. Note that hitching isn’t an option as the logging roads up here are rough, requiring high clearance or 4WD vehicles, and see very little traffic. Check wwww.nevadodecolima.com for the latest information.