Guatemala is Central America’s most diverse country. Home to 15 million people, beautiful Caribbean beaches, rainforests and volcanoes, this country is rich in Mayan culture and flora and fauna. Guatemala is also home to the volcano Acatenango that has taken a chill pill since 1972.
Acatenango is the neighbour of the most active volcano , Volcan de Fuego. So if lucky, the hikers can experience volcanic fireworks from their campsites. Many hikers have seen these eruptions almost every hour!
There are 3 active volcanoes near Antigua, all being above 3000mts. Acatenango stands tallest at 3976 meters or 13044 ft. It is an overnight hike to the top with different routes ending at the same destination making the trip more interesting.
Take the 2p.m. bus from Antigua, to San Pedro Yepocapa for 10 Quetzales. that stops at La Soledad. If you miss this bus, there’s one to Parramos and another one from there to La Soledad.
-The price for the guide is 200 Quetzales no matter the number of hikers.
-It’s better to start your hike early, around 4am so as to get to the summit around 7-8am, which is when the volcano is cloudless.You get to see the magnificent views with better lighting.
-There’s an entrance fee for these two volcanoes of 50 Quetzales or $7
-You can stay at the summit as long as you want. Though the weather up there is cold and it’s quite windy. So don’t get “blown away” while you are “blown away” by the beauty of it. (I’m scoffing at my pun right now.)
-The hike down the mountain takes between 2 to 3 hours. You’ll get back to La Soledad around 12pm.
-For the journey back to Antigua, take a bus to Parramos and another one from there to Antigua, as the direct service from La Soledad leaves early in the morning.
-It is generally recommended to go during December to May as the skies are clear and it offers a better view because what is the fun in hiking your heart out and not getting to see anything. Put-off!
Photo Credit : www.trekguatemala.com
COOL TIP: The general cost of the trip is around $60-$90 but if you get down from the bus at La Soledad and just ask for a local guide, it can save you a lot of money rather than going to the trip through a travel company or tour.
Here are just some of the things to keep in mind while you are on the hike:
-Do wear proper hiking shoes.
-Although it’s possible to do this climb in sneakers – or in my case tennis shoes – it will save you many a grazed hand and a sore bum if you wear proper hiking shoes.
-Don’t pack anything you don’t absolutely need.You will regret every extra gram your bag weighs because of that book or an extra pair of socks you just had to bring along.
-Do take at least 4 litres of water per person.
-Don’t wear warm clothes for the hike.It’s kind of confusing what to wear on a hike where the tour company loans you warm hats and gloves. But don’t be fooled, the climb up is going to be really hot. You’ll want to keep your legs covered to prevent the tan, but jeans just won’t do.
-And PERSEVERE! The hike is 20% physical and 80% mental. It will be hard but if you really put your mind to it you will achieve it and you’ll be “on top of the world”. Literally and figuratively. And the result will be worth it. A bed of clouds over an active volcano is a mesmerizing view.
A gruelling hike may sound a little discouraging but this is no ordinary experience either !!