Colima's active volcano

VOLCANO TOURS (see below)

Click on pictures below to enlarge. Pictures taken between 1990 and 2010.

Fire Volcano from Lake Maria Centuries-old legends say that more than 3,000 years ago the God of fire looked down from the volcano, Nevado de Colima, to advise and give solace to the inhabitants of this region.

His hot-tempered younger brother, who resided in the Volcan de Colima, instilled fear in the hearts of his worshippers and would severely punish those who didn't please him.

Colima's volcano has been active for five million years. In the late Pleistocene era, a huge landslide occurred at the mountain, with debris traveling some 120 km, reaching the Pacific Ocean. This is the reason Manzanillo's sand beaches are comprised of both black and golden sand.

View on the road to Lake Maria
Volcano from the town of Comala Aerial view of snow volcano in foreground
View from the road to Suchitlan Driving north from Manzanillo, tourists will always remember their first view of the majestic mountains of Colima. The inactive, snow-capped Nevado de Colima, towering above 14,200 feet and its active smoke-and lava-spewing partner, Volcan de Colima, at more than 13,488 feet overlook a lush, forested valley and tranquil lake. Lake Maria is formed by another extinct volcanic crater, and is said to be 2,000 ft. deep.

The Colima volcano is the most active volcano in Mexico, having erupted violently several times over the last 450 years. About 4,000 years ago it produced a cataclysmic avalanche much larger than that of Mount St. Helen's. Written accounts of the volcano's eruptions date from shortly after the Spanish conquest of Mexico.

1998 eruption
Beyond Suchitlan Current aerial view
Lots of snow this year One of the earliest recordings of an eruption was in 1576, followed by another in 1590. From 1611-13 there was a period of violent pyroclastic explosions (reminiscent of Pierce Brosnan's "Dante's Peak") with strong earthquakes.

There was peace at last for 138 years, but in 1743 a strong earthquake was felt in Ciudad Guzman in the neighboring state of Jalisco. In 1749, another eruption occurred; in 1770 an enormous outpouring of ash; in 1795 an eruption of glowing cinders, and finally in 1806, an earthquake that killed an estimated 2,000 people in Ciudad Guzman. Sporadic eruptions continued through 1818; then, for 51 years, the volcano showed no eruptive activity.

Fields of sugar cane
Twin peaks, both with snow 1991 eruptions made the air thick with smoke
Continental flight from Houston In 1869 an unusual occurrence happened. A small parasitic cone, now called El Volcancito, formed one-kilometer northeast of the main crater. Continued weak activity interspersed with some fairly potent explosions continued through 1913, when a major eruption occurred, characterized by heavy ash flows and the formation of a summit crater measuring more than 900 feet in depth.

Once again, the pressure was relieved, and the volcano stood essentially dormant for 48 years. In 1941, the city of Colima was on the receiving end of a strong earthquake, resulting in massive destruction. Much of the city's historical buildings had to be rebuilt after this quake.

Minor eruptions continued 1961 through 1981, with a new dome formed in the eastern part of the crater. In 1985, a magnitude 8 earthquake opened new cracks, followed by an ash eruption in 1986, and an explosion and avalanche from the dome. New vents opened, releasing some of the built-up pressure, but in 1991 and 1994 it erupted again.

Mountain on fire
Photography buffs will like this Bird's eye view of Fire Volcano
Northern side Recent activity

The current status on the volcano is that it is very active. In November of 1998, 250 people were evacuated from villages surrounding Colima due to warnings that an eruption was likely to occur. Thousands of small tremors have been recorded at the volcano. A plume was seen above the volcano on November 18. Planes surveying the volcano recorded temperatures of 1,470 degrees Fahrenheit inside the crater. Lava was also reported to have risen high within the crater.

1990 eruptionOn February 11 two years ago, a major eruption of the volcano forced the evacuation of 118 people from the town of San Marcos. Vulcanologists detected sulfur dioxide in the volcano's emissions. An eruption plume reached a height of 3 miles. There were no injuries or property damage reported, but grass fires were started from a small lava flow.

On February 14, further explosions and small earthquakes forced the evacuation of about 350 more individuals from the northern flanks of the volcano. Small pyroclastic flows have accompanied many of these explosions.

Activity at the volcano increased until on February 22, four eruptive explosions occurred at the summit. There was also an increase in seismic activity.

Recent aerial viewThings quieted down until May 11, when a strong explosion occurred at the summit dome. The shockwave could be felt in the city of Colima, and indeed, this author was in the city at the time. One could hear a rumbling noise, like thunder, and a blast, which sounded like dynamite. Since the city of Colima was doing a lot of roadwork, this author assumed that was the cause of the sound. The explosion triggered two small pyroclastic flows on the northwest side. The ballistic projectiles reached distances of almost 8 miles, causing small fires on the southern, western, and southwestern parts of the volcano, but otherwise, no other damage.

Since June 1, the volcano has been experiencing explosive activity. Six explosions occurred on June 2. On June 5 there were 4 explosive events. On the 7th, 9 explosions occurred, and still another on the 8th. On the 16th, and then again on the 18th, more explosions occurred.

A wild and majestic viewActivity is continuing throughout the month of July. How dangerous is all this activity? With modern-day seismographic equipment, numerous volcanologists and seismologists studying the volcano and recording various readings, with Mexico's Civil Protection agency ready to assist with evacuations should it be necessary--almost none. The volcano is an hour and a half away from Manzanillo (the base is 90 miles away), and 45 minutes from the city of Colima. The evacuated villages are on the northern slope, at the base of the volcano, and Manzanillo is to the south. Because it is currently the most active volcano in Mexico, people are coming from all over the world to see it and study it. Tourists, when deciding where to go on their vacation, should make sure to visit one of Mother Nature's most amazing natural wonders. Remember, Hawaii sees millions of visitors a years, and tours are frequently interrupted by a lava flow blocking the main highway. There is virtually no chance that visitors to the state of Colima could experience a similar situation.


Observe Mexico's most active volcano!

Come and join Manzanillo Adventure Tours on a marvelous journey through endless palm forests, gorgeous valleys and deep canyons. There you can enjoy the Nevado National Park, which is more than 13,000 feet high and has a spectacular view of its neighboring peak, "El Volcan de Fuego."

We offer you these choices:

  • COLIMA FIRE VOLCANO TOUR (full day, approximately 8 hours) Colima Fire Volcano with full explanation of history and facts--and hazards. You'll get as close as 4 miles from the crater. Includes birdwatching, vista of the volcano caldera, a visit to a coffee plantation & coffee factory with coffee tasting, see an indigenous mask maker/shaman as he works, stop in a "magic zone," where your car runs uphill without being turned on, enjoy lunch at a traditional Mexican restaurant in Comala, and tour the Nogueras Museum. $85 USD

  • COLIMA FIRE VOLCANO TOUR (Half day, approximately 5 hours) Colima Fire Volcano with full explanation of history and facts--and hazards. You'll get as close as 4 miles from the crater. Includes birdwatching, vista of the volcano caldera, a visit to a coffee plantation & coffee factory with coffee tasting, and calla lily plantation. $65 USD

  • VOLCANO VALLEY HORSEBACK RIDING TOUR (Half day, approximately 5 hours) If you like horseback riding and nature, this is the tour for you! Ride along different plantations, such as sugar cane, guava, coffee, corn; enjoy birdwatching, lunch at a traditional Mexican restaurant, served on corn tortillas made by hand just for you! Visit Suchitlan's indigenous mask maker/shaman, and on your way back, get ready for some volcano sightseeing. The ride is about 3 hours. $85 USD

  • SNOW VOLCANO TOUR (full day, approximately 10 hours) Ever been to over $13,000 ft. in Mexico? We reach 11,500 ft. by car, and then trek the rest of the way. Full explanation of history and facts--and hazards. You'll get as close as 3 miles from the crater. (You'll standing on the dormant volcano, called the Volcan de Nieve, or Snow Volcano.) Children 8 years and up. $125 USD

  • TREKKING VOLCANO TOUR SIGHTSEEING (Half day, approximately 5 hours) Hike along coffee, banana, mango, sugar cane, tamarind and corn plantations, cross over 2 hanging bridges, and enjoy birding as well as a view of the volcanoes. $50 USD

Tour prices include transportation to and from Manzanillo-Colima. Once arriving in Colima you will be met by your guide for the day. Lunch, where mentioned is included, as are all entrance fees. Reservations on line are done through Pay Pal, which is safe and secure for both sides. At the Manzanillo Adventure Tours office, VISA, MasterCard, Traveler's Checks, U.S. dollars, and pesos are accepted. If paying in pesos, the current local exchange rate will be used. Added to the tour time is the 2 hour transportation time to and from Manzanillo. If you are staying in Colima, your guide will meet you at your hotel. Looking for a great B & B in Comala? Try Casa Alvarada. Let them know Susan at Manzanillo Adventure Tours recommended you.

For more information on these and other tours, e-mail.

For more information on other tourist attractions in the state of Colima, check out the 150-page tourist guidebook, entitled, "Manzanillo and the State of Colima, Facts, Tips and Day Trips.