Volcán de Fuego (Volcano of Fire) is one of Central America’s most active volcanoes, and is famous for consistently spewing smoke, ash, and even lava from its core! 😮
Next to it is Volcán Acatenago, a dormant stratovolcano, which is a popular volcano to hike, since it offers spectacular views of neighboring Volcán Fuego.
From the summit of Volcán Acatenago, elevation 3,976 m, hikers have spectacular views of not only Volcán Fuego, but also some other peaks of Guatemala’s 30+ volcanoes!
I chose to do this overnight hike with OX Expeditions, an outdoor company, which came highly recommended. 😀
This company is very organized and professional. The day before the hike, our group met for a short briefing, where we would discuss the specifics of the hike, and rent winter gear.
The summit of Acatenago is very cold, so OX also lets their hikers borrow winter coats, pants, and accessories for the trip. Some of the gear was quite comical. For example, I told the British guy in our group that his coat made him look like Macklemore from Thrift Shop. 😛
Hey, Macklemore! Can we go thrift shopping?
Anyway, the next morning we met at OX at 6 AM, to pack our bags, and prepare for the journey to Acatenago. The company had a serious system, with each individual’s gear and food laid out, all ready to be packed away.
By far one of the hardest parts of the trek is carrying all the gear. Personally, I had to carry my warm clothes, camera gear, 1 gallon of water (4 liters), food, sleeping bag, roll mat, and part of the tent.
From there we headed to nearby cafe in Antigua, to grab coffee and muffins, a chat with our fellow hikers. Personally, I got to know one girl in my group from Colorado, who had previously worked in Guatemala City, and was now back to reunite with old friends and take on a few challenging hikes like this one. 🙂
From Antigua we drove 45 minutes to the entrance of the trail, where we began our steep descent up Acatenago.Much of the terrain is volcanic sand and loose gravel, which makes the uphill hike incredibly strenuous and slippery.Our guide was sure to give us breaks every 20-30 minutes, so that we could catch our breath and take in the beautiful scenery. 🙂What’s fascinating about Acatenago is that it’s actually comprised of three separate biospheres: oak forest, cloud forest, and pine forest.
I also wasn’t expecting to see so much plant life on a volcano.The vibrant greenery looked absolutely stunning in contrast to the black sand. ❤Anyway, after about 1.5 hours, we took our first long break, where the locals had soda, snacks, and beer for sale.
This is also when some stray dogs started to join us on the hike. I think they like to camp with the visitors, so they can eat their leftovers.How can you say no to that face? 🙂Anyway, by about noon we had reached the halfway point and lunch spot. OX packed us sandwiches, but encouraged us to bring other snacks as well.
Unfortunately, at this point, a thunderstorm rolled in and our hike became rather soggy.I didn’t have a poncho, but I did had a stylish purple umbrella to match my coat. Everyone said I must have planned that! 😉
Anyway, after 6 hours of hiking, we finally reached our camp site and set up the tents. There were two tents, with four per tent. My tent mates included the American girl, a Russian guy, who is on holiday after an internship in California, and a German girl, who is currently studying Spanish in Guatemala.Anyway, I was super impressed with the camp site OX had reserved. We were literally right next to Fuego!As well, in the evening, this volcano started to live up to its reputation, with rumbling blows of smoke, ash, and lava erupting out the top! 😮
It was the perfect entertainment as our guide cooked us up some spaghetti on his mini stove, and boiled us water for chai spiced tea, while we roasted our buns by the fire.
In the morning, we left at 4 AM to reach the summit. The air was bitter cold, and I couldn’t feel my feet, but I was raised in Wisconsin, so this was nothing compared to our winters there. 😛Overall, the hardest part was the lack of light for navigating (many hikers had headlamps) and again, the steep, sandy ascent. To put things in perspective, the hike would take over 1.5 hours to get up, but only 20 minutes to get down, due to its sharp incline! 😮
Anyway, on the way up, I was able to spot stunning views of Volcán Agua and the active volcano, Pacaya, in the distance.
It was so cool seeing life above the clouds.
At the summit, we were able to walk around the rim of the crater, where we caught gorgeous views of the sunrise.The crater is absolutely massive, and I even saw the volcanic monitoring equipment they have in the core.
Anyway, after finishing up at the summit, we walked back down to camp, where we packed up and had a light breakfast of coffee, banana bread, bagels, and assorted spreads. This is also when Volcán Fuego gave us a epic show before our final descent! 😮
The volcano started with a few small eruptions every 20 minutes. This evolved into 2-3 major blasts, with giant clouds of ash, smoke, and rock shooting high into the air. 😮Of course I had to take a few volcano selfies, and I made a short video for you to enjoy. 🙂
Overall, the hike was an incredible experience, and highly recommended for anyone visiting Guatemala. 🙂
Cost: 89 USD, which includes transportation, gear rental, three meals, and a bilingual guide.
Up next, I’ll be sharing with you my experiences in the colonial city of Antigua. Stay tuned to hear all about it. Until then. 🙂