The 5 most exciting volcano climbs in Guatemala
Besides impressive Mayan ruins, colorful art markets and coffee plantations, Guatemala is also known for its many impressive volcanoes. When planning your trip to Guatemala, you should definitely plan to climb at least one of the magical volcanoes. Today, we would like to present you the best tours to our favorite volcano experiences.
You want to experience red-hot lava and flying rocks live, without having to accept a strenuous hike? Then the Pacaya volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in the world, is just the right alternative for you. From Antigua you can climb the imposing volcano in two to three hours on a very easy hike. And if you are really lazy, you can also sit comfortably on the back of a donkey and enjoy the landscape.
The lava landscape that awaits you is impressive. Because the volcano is still active, you walk over cooled lava fields. However, this also means that you cannot climb to the top. But you can still admire the plumes from close up. Your breath will catch at the sight of the red-hot lava flows making their way down into the valley, and the glowing sparks that keep coming out of the smoking vent. The gurgling and murmuring of the volcano deep underground can be heard loudly. Over the embers of the lava you can grill marshmallows. A unique experience that you will not soon forget.
Let’s go to the highest point in Central America. The volcano, which is no longer active, is 4,200 meters high and is located in the west of the country, on the border with Mexico. The climb begins in the small village of Tuichán, which you reach after about three hours by bus from Xela, and is therefore relatively easy to climb despite the extreme altitude. And the best part: it’s off the beaten path. This means you can experience something that not everyone else has seen, and don’t climb the mountain together with 1,000 other travelers.
After four hours of hiking you will reach the camp where you will camp tonight. With a campfire, music and a few drinks you can end the evening comfortably. Because at dawn, you’re already on your way again to climb the last meters of altitude to the summit – you’ll manage that now, too. Since you are on the top of the highest mountain, you can already imagine how incredibly breathtaking the view is that awaits you there.
3. Santa Maria
Santa Maria is both one of the most powerful and one of the most beautiful volcanoes in Guatemala and is considered a real insider tip. From the town of Xela you can climb the 3,772 meter high volcano in a day tour.
Its eruption in 1902 has written history. With a magnitude of 6 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index, it was the second most violent eruption in the 20th century. The volcano is still active today, but rather harmless, as early warning systems warn the population of eruptions.
From the summit you can admire the natural spectacle of how the secondary crater Santiaguito constantly spews out dusty clouds. You will also hear the loud explosion sounds of the secondary crater, which will give you goosebumps. With a little luck, you can also see the highest mountain in Central America, Tajumulco.
The climb is quite doable if you are reasonably fit. The advantage is that you will not climb the mountain with many other tourists, but rather little is going on. Many locals climb the mountain to pray and lay flowers on the summit. You should not miss this local experience.
2. San Pedro
A stay in the city of the same name on Lake Atitlan is nothing without having climbed the local mountain San Pedro. From the top of the volcano you have a breathtaking view of the lake, which was formed in a volcanic crater, the surrounding volcanoes and the Mayan villages.
You usually climb the 3,020 meter high, no longer active volcano early in the morning in order to have already covered part of the distance by sunrise and to enjoy the magnificent view. Prepare yourself well, because the hike is very strenuous due to the many meters of altitude that are covered and takes about four hours. The trail is very well built with many steps, but is still very steep. But the view and the experience are worth the effort.
Many of the travelers interviewed named the ascent of Acatenango as one of their most memorable travel experiences in Latin America. Why is the hike to this volcano so special? Because from the camp at the foot of the volcano you have the unique opportunity to observe the lava of the active twin volcano “El Fuego”, which is located in the immediate vicinity. A sight you will remember for a long time.
The tour to the volcano starts in Antigua and you can book it directly there. There are countless providers that offer the tour. It is important that you make sure that the organizer has good and not outdated equipment and that you do not have to carry all the luggage up to the top yourself. Because the hike is not without its difficulties. With its proud 3,976 meters, Acatenango is the third highest volcano in Guatemala.
The hike begins after about an hour’s drive from Antigua. You will then walk uphill for 6 hours through black lava sand to the base camp. The walk alone is an experience. So hang in there, even if you run out of breath in between. In the base camp the tents are pitched and there you spend the night at about 3,700 meters altitude after a communal meal with wine and campfire. Most of the time you will also see a dreamlike starry sky and of course the unique natural spectacle of lava spewing volcano, which will leave you speechless. After dark, the spectacle becomes even more impressive. With an unimaginable force, the fiery red lava is catapulted into the air.
At dawn, you will continue your journey to admire the sunrise from the summit. From there you have a magical view over all of Antigua as well as the neighboring volcanoes.