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Everything you need to know about Acatenango Volcano Hike

Updated: May 30

Planning to hike Acatenango Volcano to see lava erupting from the Fuego Volcano?


You are in the right place! I will cover everything you need to know about the Acatenango Volcano Hike.

  1. A few main points to start with

  2. What to pack for the Acatenango Volcano hike?

  3. Acatenango Volcano Hike Difficulty

  4. Acatenango Overnight Hike Itinerary

  5. Acatenango Volcano Hike Tour Companies


A few points to start with...


All the tours will start from Antigua. So you will need to figure out the bit of getting there unless, of course, you are already staying there. I couldn't find any companies that would do a tour from Guatemala City, so I had to make my way to Antigua on the morning of the hike. Some companies offer a shuttle from Guatemala City (hotel or airport) but the cheapest I found was $45. Whereas Uber costs from $19 - $30 (depending on the time of the day/traffic). So I just got an Uber that morning to Antigua. There are of course public buses that are way cheaper but I thought for the hustle and time I will save on an already early morning, it is worth it.


The best time to hike Acatenango Volcano is from November to April when there is a dry season in Guatemala. Said that it did rain a bit during my hike (March 20223). But it rained for 2 hours and then it all cleared up within 30 minutes. I don't think the worst part is the rain, it is more about the visibility. You are already in between clouds and then having ominous rain clouds does not help. So definitely try to do it during the dry season. Temperature wise there is no big difference as the temperature stays similar all year round.


Is the Acatenango Volcano hike dangerous? It is not, as you do not actually hike the active Fuego Volcano but the one next to it - Acatenango Volcano which is dormant! You can do a little extra hike to get closer to Fuego Volcano but the guides know the limit. There is a point after which you can't pass that has been calculated based on the Fuego Volcano activity. Said that nature is nature and you will need to sign a leaflet that you take full responsibility. So, just don't watch volcano eruption documentaries before going!


What to pack for the Acatenango Volcano hike?

The temperature will change drastically as you will start at 1400 meters above sea level and the highest point that you will hike to is almost 4000 meters above sea level. So definitely not an easy task when you are packing for the Acatenango Volcano hike.


Clothes-wise, start the hike light: pants and a T-shirt. It will be quite hot because of the weather and because the hike is very steep up. But definitely pack extra layers for when you reach the top. I had warm leggings and hiking pants, a thermal shirt, a hoodie, and a warm jacket. That was my 'cold set' and I am glad I had all those layers as it was freezing during the night and morning hike. Gloves and a hat is a must-have during the morning hike.


One thing that is a must - shoes with a good grip! Ideally, you will have hiking boots. I just had sports shoes and I was fine as mine had a good grip but even then I almost fell around 5 times. I saw people falling in front of me. It is because the whole 17km trail consists of volcanic rocks and sand.


No matter if you do the hike during the dry or wet season, take a raincoat with you! As I said before I was doing the hike during the dry season and even then I got some rain.


Definitely have sunscreen with you and apply it even if you don't think you are that exposed to the sun. I did not think I was that open to the elements as we were covered by trees, but I still burnt. I had a hat all the time and even with the hat I got red cheeks so if you burn quickly, make sure to apply sunscreen before the hike.


Water and snacks...take a bottle with you for the first bit but there will be several stops on the way where you can buy water and snacks. Probably more expensive but I think it is worth it. I carried 3L of water from the beginning of the hike and if I had known that there will be a possibility to buy water later I wouldn't have taken so much with me. Just make sure your guide warns you when the last water stop is as somewhere in the middle of the hike they stop selling them.


No point in taking a towel because the camp is very basic. There is no running water so no showers or sinks. Definitely take toilet paper with you!! There is no toilet paper there in the camps.


Acatenango Volcano Hike Difficulty

I don't think you will like my answer - the hike is hard! And there is nothing you can do about it. To reach the summit and see the Fuego Volcano you have to hike 17km up to the Acatenango Volcano camp. The hike all the way is just up, at a steep incline, so it is a very challenging hike. Only the last 30 minutes of the hike get flatter. It took me 6 hours to get up to the camp.


Then on the 2nd day, in the morning, you do an extra 2km to the top of the Acatenango Volcano Crater from where you have incredible views above the clouds of Fuego Volcano and nearby volcanoes. But that part is even harder than the whole 17km hike you do on day 1. It is extremely steep!


And after you need to do 2km back to the camp and then 17km back to the starting point, so within 30h you will do 38km.

Acatenango Overnight Hike Itinerary

I did the overnight hike but there are also companies offering a 1-day hike. You start in the night, see the sunrise and volcano, and then you make your way back. I would recommend this opinion only if you are extremely short on time.


Of course, every travel agency might have a bit different agenda, but all the ones I checked had it more or less the same so I will share with you my itinerary so you can understand better what your overnight tour will look like.


Day 1. You start around 8AM. From Antigua, you will be taken to the starting point of your hike. Then 17 km up to the camp. You will arrive at your camp around 3PM. Then you have lunch at the camp. Some guides/agencies offer an extra hike for an extra price that you can do in the evening, It is a hike that lets you get closer to the Fuego Volcano. I wanted to do it but it started to rain heavily so I decided not to, but mentally that would be an option for you. Then either you wait for dinner or you come back from the extra hike and you have dinner. When it gets dark (ideally) your guide prepares a fireplace and you can enjoy watching lava coming out of the volcano.


Day 2. You start very early, around 4.30PM. You make your way up to the Acatenango Volcano Crater, which is an extra 2km. Once there you enjoy a beautiful sunrise with the volcano erupting in the background. Then back to the camp, breakfast and all that is left is getting back to the starting point. Hike down is much quicker. Took me around 2

hours.


So really it is not a 2-day thing, but more like 30h thing. As you start in Antigua on day 1, at 8AM and you are back in Antigua the next day around 11AM.



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Acatenango Volcano Hike Tour Companies

In all honesty, as I said the agenda is more or less the same for them all.

Tropicana Cabin

I personally did the tour with Tropicana which is one of the most popular choices and I can say that I was really happy with my choice. I have no affiliation with them, this is my genuine opinion. Everything was very well organized. Our guide Brian was lovely. Our cabin was great, with a bed, extra blankets, and light. We did pay extra for a private cabin though, so I do not know how the group ones looked as the private cabins were located separately from the group cabins. We were fed well with extra snacks that came because we paid extra. So I definitely would recommend them.




Here is my Acatenango Volcano Hike:


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