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.

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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

MULTI-DAY HIKING GEAR LIST

 

 

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

  • 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)

 

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

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.

MORE INFORMATION

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.

 

11 Responses

  1. Lynda

    Thank you so much for this information!!! Very helpful as I am a budget conscious traveler!

  2. Olaia

    Hola Antonio,

    Muchas gracias por el articulo!! buenisimo! Estoy pensando en subir el Acatenango en pocos dias y no quiero contratar una agencia porque es mucho dinero. He visto que vosotros encontraisteis un guia en Soledad. ¿Es facil conseguirlo? ¿ Teneis algun contacto? Yo viajo sola.
    Muchisimas gracias!! Cuidaros

    • Antonio Cala

      Hola Olaia,

      La Soledad es un pueblo muy pequeño. Justo donde te deja el bus hay una tienda pequeña. Pregunta allí. Ellos nos pusieron en contacto con nuestro guía.

      Que lo disfrutes!

  3. Kate

    Hi. Thank you for your information. We have done exactly the same thing and Jaime ended up being our guide as well. Few more things here for the future travellers, there is the bus just like you described that leaves everyday from Antigua at either 2 or 5pm, there are buses that go back at 7:30,8:30 and 11 am. Those are the only ones I know of and they go everyday including Saturday but not Sunday. People that work around the tienda will be able to tell you for sure. I would say you never have to worry about how you get back to Antigua. We paid 30 quetzales for the room for 2 people and they even made us dinner for no extra charge (eggs,frijoles,tortillas and veggies). There was a flashlight in our room as well which we used for the hike. We paid 200 quetzales to Jaime who btw is 14 years old but super nice boy who climbes up 3 days a week so there is absolutely no need for concern. We started at midnight and arrived to the top at 5:30 just for the sunrise which I highly recommend..

  4. Michael

    Hey Antonio, great blog it really helped us (me and my wife) out for our trip up Acatenango. We found the experience to be out of this world, a proper adventure, we have travelled a fair bit ourselves and rate this hike as one of the most impressive sights we have ever seen. So much so that we felt compelled to write a blog post about it http://adventureofalifetime.co.uk/acatenango-volcano-hike-fuego/

    Would love to know what you think of our trip? Great blog, keep up the good work!

  5. Claire

    We did the Acatenango last year and even though it was sooooo cold at night, it was one of the highlights of our 3-month trip through Central America.
    You are so right re: security concerns, and a group was robbed at sunrise when we were up there. We had the best possible escort that we arranged for free (but food and tips) for our private group of 3: the tourist police. Part of their job is to provide assistance on hikes. All details to reach them and request assistance here:
    https://bestregardsfromfar.com/2016/01/27/climbing-acatenango-volcano-guatemala/
    Thanks for your great posts!

  6. Val

    Hey there! thanks for the great informative post! my boyfriend and I are trying to hike Acetenango in the beginning of January. We are planning on doing it this way to save money! Does anyone have Jamie, the guide’s number? I’m assuming I’ll need to contact him ahead of time to arrange this?

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