14.5005° N, 90.8757° W
THIS IN-DEPTH ADVENTURE GUIDE COVERS EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HIKING ACATENANGO VOLCANO IN ANTIGUA, GUATEMALA.
Are you planning to visit Antigua, Guatemala and looking to hike up the epic Acatenango Volcano to get a better view of fiery Fuego Volcano (which actually, literally, translates to Fire Volcano)? Then you have come to the right spot!
This in-depth adventure guide will outline everything you need to know before heading out on the popular Acatenango overnight hike yourself; including, whether it is worth it to add on the extra excursion to Fuego, what gear to bring with you to make sure you have a great time, and what the two-day adventure actually looks like from someone who has done it before (and absolutely loved it!).
But first, a bit more about the two volcanoes.
Acatenango, which is a stratovolcano, towers over the very touristy city of Antigua, Guatemala. It is actually made up of two summits: Pico Mayor (the higher peak) and Yepocapa. The highest point of Acatenango sits at just over 13,045 feet (which is way taller than I expected). Fuego Volcano (or Fire Volcano) is joined with Acatenango via an obvious saddle, and they collectively make up the volcano complex known as La Horqueta.
Unlike Acatenango, which is now dormant, Fuego is very active. In fact, you can expect small eruptions every 10-20 minutes. Usually these eruptions consist of large plumes of ash and smoke/gas and some flying rock debris (or pyroclastic flows). Some of the best views of Fuego and its fiery eruptions come from the side of Acatenango - hence the popularity of the hike.
Seriously, if you are looking for an epic adventure in Guatemala and in Central America in general, then make sure to add hiking Acatenango Volcano to your list. I have hiked a lot of mountains (and volcanoes) and this trip was definitely one of my favorites!
\\ What to Expect While Hiking Acatenango Volcano
Below is a brief outline of what you can expect while hiking Acatenango Volcano in Guatemala - especially if you do it with a guide:
| Get picked up in the center of Antigua or at your hostel between 9AM and 9:30AM.
| It is about an hour ride up to the trailhead. You may stop at a grocery store along the way for some last minute supplies and a bathroom break depending on your tour agency.
| Start hiking between 11AM and 11:30AM after a quick debrief with your group.
| Likely reach the lunch spot between 1:30PM and 2PM.
| Get to basecamp around 4PM.
| Once at camp, you will have the option to head over to Fuego Volcano, which requires another 1.5 hours of hiking and a lot of elevation change.
| If you do the extra adventure to Fuego Volcano, then expect to be at the top of the ridge for an hour or so to watch the sunset and to get a more up close view of Fuego's many eruptions. Then you will hike back down to camp in the dark (so bring a headlamp!).
| Get to camp around 8PM, eat dinner, and then watch Fuego erupt some more (at night is when you see the most glowing lava).
| If you choose to summit Acatenango Volcano, then you will need to wake up between 4AM and 4:30AM.
| For the summit push, you will have to hike for 1 hour to reach the top.
| Watch sunrise (it's amaaaazing).
| Hike back down to camp, which should take ~30 minutes.
| Eat a lighter breakfast at basecamp. Then pack your bags and clean up the camp (remember to take everything with you!).
| Start hiking down to the trailhead at around 8:30AM.
| It will likely take you 2-3 hours to make it down to the bottom depending on how fast you go (I got back to the trailhead around 11:20AM); there will also be a few breaks along the way.
| Once down at the bottom, you will have an hour ride back to Antigua (I ended up getting back to town around 1PM).
IS IT WORTH IT TO HIKE OVER TO FUEGO VOLCANO?
I had heard mixed reviews on this added adventure before venturing out on the trail myself, and I am sure you will too. Simply put, I would suggest adding on the extra hike to Fuego Volcano ONLY if it is clear out (meaning no clouds or fog). If you get lucky and find yourself up on Acatenango on a clear afternoon definitely do it! The views from the ridge are pretty spectacular - especially once the sun goes down and you can really see the glow from the volcano's eruptions.
Do note that this is an extra adventure and therefore you will have to pay more to do it (between 200 and 250 quetzals or $25 and $30 USD). Also, it will require an extra 2-3 hours of hiking, so make sure to come prepared with an ample amount of water and snacks (you will eat dinner after getting back to camp). Likewise, the hike back down in the dark can be pretty slick and even treacherous in some parts, so make sure to bring a headlamp or your phone for light.
IS IT WORTH IT TO SUMMIT ACATENANGO IN THE MORNING?
Another adventure you can choose to do or not is to summit Acatenango Volcano on the morning of Day 2. This hike does NOT cost extra and is included with almost all standard bookings. Similar to Fuego, I would suggest only doing this extra hike - which will require another 1.5 hours of hiking (total), most of which will be in the dark - if it is clear. BUT, if you do have good conditions, then I also HIGHLY recommend hiking to the summit, for once at the top, you will be rewarded with incredible views of the sunrise and some extra time to see an erupting and glowing Fuego.
Once you have your fill of the view (you will stay at the summit for about an hour or so) then it is a quick 30 minute hike back down to camp where you will receive breakfast and maybe some coffee.
HOW COLD DOES IT ACTUALLY GET?
If I am being honest, this was the one thing I was most nervous about since I know I get cold easily and then it can be really tough for me to warm back up (I also have bad circulation but that is a whole other problem).
I would say that the coldest part of the whole 2-day trip was on the summit of Acatenango on Day 2. And I am not gonna lie - it gets coooold up there (plus it's really windy). But I think if you have plenty of layers - especially a windbreaker or something that protects against the wind - you should be fine. Similarly, you will likely only be at the summit for an hour, so even if you are cold, you don't have to be for very long.
\\ Should You Hike Acatenango Volcano With a Guide?
While the trail is pretty easy to follow, if you choose to do the hike without a guide then you will need to bring all food, water, and camping gear with you. Likewise, you will also need to find your own transportation to the trailhead (I did see some local buses, but couldn't find the specific routes).
Unless you have a lot of time to plan the hike and/or your own vehicle and gear, I would instead suggest just going with a guide.
FINDING A TOUR GUIDE IN ANTIGUA
Because hiking Acatenango is one of the most popular adventures in Antigua, you should have no problem finding a guiding service or tour agency that does the hike. Below are some of the most popular agencies that do the Acatenango hike, as well as what it costs per person for the 2-day adventure: