Volcanoes and treks in Guatemala

Guatemala is crossed by a large chain of volcanoes. Between Mexico in the north and the neighbors to the south (Honduras & Salvador), there are no less than 300 volcanic structures, of which 37 are recognized as volcanoes. Three of them are active today.

Their imposing silhouettes follow us for a whole part of the journey, overlooking the high plains, Lake Atitlan and the colonial cities. They offer a rich playground for lovers of hiking, mountain biking and all kinds of sporting activities.

Guatemala is considered the best destination for observing volcanic eruptions. The spectacles offered by the fumaroles, the flows, even the lava explosions create unique memories.

Recommendations

There are volcanoes of all sizes in Guatemala. It is of course recommended to have a good physical condition to start an ascent. You should also be well supervised and pay attention to altitude sickness (also known as MAM: mountain sickness).

Before launching your attack to Tajumulco volcano and its 4,220 meters, contact our travel expert: he will find an expedition adapted to your physical condition and your experience.

Pacaya volcano

Pacaya is one of three active volcanoes in Guatemala. Its proximity to the colonial city of Antigua and its easiness of access make it one of the most appreciated by travelers. We recommend leaving early in the morning to enjoy an unobstructed view. The excursion is suitable for children: the walk lasts approximately 2 hours, the descent is 400 meters and an altitude of 2,500 meters is reached.

We appreciate in the distance the views of the volcanoes Agua, Acatenango and Fuego, the last one regularly experiences explosions. The last eruption of Pacaya volcano dates back to March 2014. During these periods of activity, it is possible to approach a few meters from the lava flows. Out of eruption, long fumaroles can be observed accompanied by a distinctive hissing sound.

 

Fuego volcano

At 3,763 meters high, Fuego is one of the most active volcanoes in Central America. Its Indian name “Chi’gag” means in Maya Cakchiquel “where is the fire”. Its eruptions are violent, it is in constant activity. More than 10,000 people were evacuated as a precaution during the 2012 eruption. The most recent dates back to June 2018.

We especially appreciate Fuego volcano in the distance from the city of Antigua, or during the ascent to the Pacaya volcano. But the best way to enjoy the “Chi’gag” is to climb the nearby Acatenango volcano to enjoy the spectacle.

If Fuego is one of the most active in the world, it can still have breaks of one or two weeks during which its activity is limited.

 

Acatenango volcano

Acatenango is located just near the Fuego, a stone’s throw from Antigua. From the top of its 3,976 meters, you can see its neighbor Fuego in full activity, the Pacaya and Agua volcanoes, as well as Lake Atitlán. The climb requires a good physical condition.

The expedition is organized in two days with overnight stay in a tent. The first day is physical with 1,400 meters of elevation to climb (about 5-6 hours of walking). As you approach base camp, you can hear the exploding Fuego explosions. We will listen to the giant roar all night, the roar of the blasts going up the sides of the volcano. In clear weather, lava flows illuminate the landscape. We never tire of the spectacle … The next day, 2 hours of additional walking will be necessary to reach the summit and enjoy a panoramic view before returning to Antigua.

 

San Pedro volcano

San Pedro is one of the volcanoes bordering Lake Atitlán. The approach can be done in tuktuk from the villages of San Pedro La Laguna and San Pedro Atitlán. The 1,100 meters in elevation require good physical condition but do not present any technical difficulties.

From the entrance to the park, it takes 3 hours to reach the highest point at 3,020 meters. The trail first crosses fields of corn and coffee before entering the jungle. The summit offers a breathtaking view of the lake and Santiago de Atitlán. On the horizon, the Nariz del Indio or “Indian Nose” mountain draws a face in human form. It is possible to sleep in a refuge near the summit to enjoy the sunrise on Lake Atitlán.