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Highest mountains in Central America

What Are the Highest Mountains in Central America?

One for the hikers: A list of the highest mountains in Central America and the highest individual mountains in each Central American country. This article contains some affiliate links, where we make a small commission if you purchase anything after clicking, at no extra cost to you. 

One of the little factoids I’ve always loved about Costa Rica’s Central Valley where I live is that it’s higher than highest point in England, my birth country. I’ve always loved that, ever since I arrived here.

San Jose sits at an elevation of 1,172 meters (3,845 feet), while Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain is 978 meters (3,209 feet).

I remember climbing Scafell Pike years ago with a group of friends and it was grueling. The top is a windy, desolate wasteland, stark and beautiful. It amazes me that I live, work, eat, drink, and do everything human beings do in daily life at a higher elevation than Scafell Pike.

As I write this, I’m at a higher elevation than anyone in England.

I don’t don’t why that amazes me so much, but it does and it always will. Call me weird.

So if I’m higher than the highest mountain in  England, what does the highest mountain in Costa Rica look like? Or the highest mountains elsewhere in the region?

We figured it’s time to hit Instagram to see.

Below is a list of the top ten highest mountains in Central America with an Instagram image or video taken from the top.

1. Volcán Tajumulco, Guatemala

At 4,220 meters (13,845 feet), Tajumulco in Guatemala is by far the highest mountain in Central America. A dormant volcano, it last erupted in the 1860s.

Tajumulco is a relatively easy climb, and camping is available on the mountain. For a guide to climbing Tajumulco and hitting the summit of Central America, check out this blog by Along Dusty Roads.

2. Volcán Tacaná, Guatemala

Slap bang on the border between Guatemala and the Mexican state of Chiapas, Volcán Tacaná is Central America’s second-highest mountain at 4,060 meters (13,320 feet). There are two routes up, on on the Guatemalan side, one on the Mexican side. Once you get up there, you can see the shadow of the volcano cast across Mexico.

3. Volcán Acatenango, Guatemala

At 3,975 meters (13,041 feet), Acatenango is Central America’s (and Guatemala’s) third-highest peak. With its proximity to Antigua, it’s also one of the most-climbed volcanoes in the region. From the top, you get an awesome view of the constantly-erupting Volcán de Fuego right next to it.

4. Sierra de los Cuchumatanes, Guatemala

The Sierra de los Cuchumatanes are a series of non-volcanic mountains in Guatemala, of which the highest point of 3,837 meters (12,589 feet) marks the fourth-highest point in Central America.

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5. Cerro Chirripó, Costa Rica

Cerro Chirripó is Central America’s fifth-highest mountain, Costa Rica‘s highest, and the highest mountain in Central America that’s not in Guatemala. It’s 3,821 meters (12,536 feet) high and well worth the time and effort it takes to climb. From the top, if it’s clear, you can see both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea.

6. Volcán Santa María, Guatemala

Back to Guatemala again, to Volcan Santa María, Central America’s sixth-highest peak. At 3,772 meters (12,375 feet), Santa Maria is an active volcano, although still climbable.

7. Volcán de Agua, Guatemala

Volcán de Agua is one of Guatemala’s most iconic volcanoes, looming over the city of Antigua. At 3,761 meters (12,339 feet), climbing this volcano is no joke, and many prefer to view it from the comfort of an Antigua hotel room, bar, or coffee shop. Those who make it up there, though, will give themselves some serious bragging rights in town later.

8. Volcán Atitlán, Guatemala

The view from the top of Central America’s eighth-highest point encompasses stunning Lake Atitlán, the volcano’s namesake. Volcán Atitlán is 3,537 meters (11,604 feet) high and you feel every single meter on the way up. Not for the faint-hearted. But the views make it well worth it.

9. Montaña de Peña Blanca, Guatemala

Coming in at number nine in Central America’s highest mountains is Montaña de Peña Blanca at 3,518 meters (11,542 feet). This mountain lies in the Sierra Madre de las Chiapas range.

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10. Volcán Barú, Panama

Of the top ten highest mountains in Central America, eight are in Guatemala. One is in Costa Rica and the other one, the tenth-highest in the region, is in Panama. Volcán Barú is Panama’s highest point at 3,474 meters (11,398 feet). It’s a relatively easy climb up to the top of Barú – there’s an antenna station close to the summit. Once up there, if you’re lucky, you can see the Pacific and the Caribbean at the same time.

That’s the top ten highest peaks in Central America, and, as we mentioned, most of them are in Guatemala, with only the fifth-highest and tenth-highest being in Costa Rica and Panama respectively.

So what are the highest peaks in Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and Belize, and where do they rate in the overall picture? Let’s see…

Cerro las Minas, Honduras

At 2,849 meters (9,347 feet), Cerro las Minas is Honduras’ highest mountain and the twelfth-highest in Central America. Located in Celaque National Park, this forested mountain makes for a great day hike to the top where you can take a selfie next to the sign saying you’re at the highest point in Honduras.

Cerro El Pital, El Salvador

At 2,730 meters (8,957 feet) El Pital is the highest mountain in El Salvador and the fourteenth-highest in Central America. It’s super-cold up here, and one of the only places in Central America where frost is common (well, maybe “common” is an exaggeration… better to say “not totally rare”). This isn’t a hiking mountain – you can drive up and hike the various cloud forest trails from the visitor center. The fresh mountain temperatures make El Pital a popular tourist spot.

Mogotón, Nicaragua

Mogotón is the highest mountain in Nicaragua and the 23rd-highest in Central America at 2,107 meters (6,912 feet). Well off the beaten path to most tourists, close to Honduras in the north of the country, not many climb Mogotón. It’s only in recent years that they’ve cleared the area of landmines. Those who do make it here, though, will enjoy pristine cloud forests and cooler temperatures.

Doyle’s Delight, Belize

At 1,124 meters (3,688 feet), Doyle’s Delight is a minnow among mountains in Central America. But nonetheless, it’s Belize’s highest point (and still higher than Skafell Pike in England). It’s only in recent years they discovered Doyle’s delight was the highest mountain in Belize. For many years, the honor went to Victoria Peak before they found out Doyle’s was actually a few feet higher. Those who attempt Doyle’s Delight will experience a grueling, but worthwhile jungle climb.

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Have you climbed any of these mountains in Central America?

If so, what’s your favorite one? Or if your favorite Central America mountain hike isn’t one of these, let us know which one is. For example, I love Concepcion and Maderas on Ometepete Island, Nicaragua and Pico Blanco in the Cerros de Escazú, Costa Rica.

There’s tons more to choose from, all over the region, and we’d love to hear about your favorite mountains in Central America.

James Dyde is the editor of www.centralamerica.com. He lives in Escazu, Costa Rica.

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