Each day we were in beautiful Antigua I spent my time contemplating the volcanoes in the horizon. There are 3, all of which are above 3,000 meters. Agua Volcano, always present in every postcard of Antigua, is the closest. Fuego Volcano, still active, seems to be angry with its frequent eruptions. And the highest of the three, Acatengango (3976 mts), seemed to be asking to go hiking and be climbed.
We started to work out the logistics and we found a big problem, assaults to tourists in the mountains are quite frequent in this area of Guatemala, so going by ourselves is not a good idea. The tour companies charge 60 dollars, which I think is way too much just to climb a volcano. Also, we would have to go with other 15 backpackers, something that could ruin the experience. I prefer to enjoy nature with very few people around. Only Amanda and myself would be ideal but it’s not an option if you go with a tour so we have to find a solution.
After thinking what to do, we decided to take a bus to La Soledad, the village where the hike starts. From there we would try to find a local to guide to take us to the top. When we arrived we asked around until we met Jaime. He offered to take us to the summit for 25 dollars (for both of us). He takes tourists to the mountain quite often and says there are no problems with assaults if you go with a local (I guess everyone knows each other). We pitched our tent next to his house and we will start the hike early the next morning. We ended up saving about 100 dollars doing it this way and we had our own guide. At the same time, our money will go to the local community not a big tour company. I like it.
WHAT WE LIKED THE MOST
- The view from the top, with the Lake Atitlan to the west and the volcanoes Fuego and Agua to the east.
- There are different paths to go up and down the volcano which makes the trip even more interesting.
WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE THAT MUCH
- Waking up at 3:30 in the morning!
EQUIPMENT CHECK LIST
- From Antigua there is a bus to San Pedro Yepocapa (10 quetzales) at 2pm that stops at La Soledad. If you miss this bus you need to take one to Parramos and another one from there to La Soledad.
- There is a little shop where the bus drops you off in La Soledad (on the right side of the road).There is where you have to ask for the guide.
- They have a very simple room (100 quetzales, no bathroom) or you can pitch your tent for free.
- The price for the guide is 200 quetzales (for the entire group). It doesn’t matter how many people are hiking.
- You start hiking early, around 4am, to get to the summit at 7-8am, which is when the volcano is cloudless and the views are better.
- You can stay at the summit as long as you want but it’s very cold and windy up there so between 30 minutes and 1 hour is enough.
- The hike down the mountain takes between 2 to 3 hours getting back to La Soledad around 12pm.
- To get back to Antigua you need to take a bus to Parramos and another one from there to Antigua, as the direct service from La Soledad leaves early in the morning.
Bring more warm clothes than the ones you think you will need. No matter how hot can be in Antigua, It can get very cold and windy at the top.
It takes between 3 and 4 hours to get to the summit. Coming down is faster, between 2 and 3 hours.
During the dry season, from December to May, is when the sky is often clear of clouds and the views are better.
You need to take a bus to La Soledad, overnight there, and hike the next morning (see the boxed table for details)
Guatemala is full of beautiful places and for nature lovers the opportunities are endless. There are quite a few volcanoes that can be climbed in the country. Acatenango is well known for its magnificent views from its summit. The summit is 3,976 mts (13,044 ft), one of the highest points in Central America.
On a clear day you can see Lake Atitlan with its volcanoes San Pedro and Atitlan and the neighbouring volcanoes of Agua and Fuego. The closest is the active volcano Fuego. The summit of Acatenango provides a great view and safe spot to see the regular eruptions.
Location: Acatenango Volcano, Guatemala.
Price: 200 Quetzales (30 USD) for the whole group.
Useful Notes: It’s highly recommended to go with a guide, as assaults do happen in the area.