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Acatenango Volcano Hike – All You Need to Know Before You Go

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Acatenango Volcano Hike – All You Need to Know Before You Go

two guys sitting on top of Acatenango volcano

There are some activities people usually are not able to do, like in this case, volcano climbing, specifically Acatenango Volcano, which is located outside of Antigua, Guatemala. But those activities are once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and people should do them at least one time. Being this close to nature with breathtaking views is worth it.

Where to start?

The right place to start this trip is Antigua, that is pretty much where you have to begin since the majority of the Outfitters or the tour operators are all located here, and you could have a pretty good pick of operators. The most important thing to remember, every single tour is an overnight tour. The main reason for this is that when you get up to Acatenango, it is located right in front of Fuego Volcano

Searching for a Tour Operator

The main thing when you do look for an operator to take you up Acatenango is the location of their camp. A lot of the operators will tell you that their location is great. However, you really want to make sure that when you are camping to have a nice spot, as for pictures of the campsite, that way you can be sure since you’ll be out in the middle of nowhere you want to cover some really basic amenities, on top and that’s pretty much the only way you could do anything, it is super rustic. You have to go and do your nature-calling duties outside. Literally, there are no toilets, there’s nothing. So where your tents are located, you really want to be right there in front of Fuego because that is the main attraction.

Acatenango Volcano Hike

Acatenango has not erupted since 1972, so it’s a safe volcano to go up, and that’s why there are hiking trails. Fuego is constantly erupting, sometimes it’s going to erupt a lot more than other times. So they could even actually close the entire hiking trip altogether. But normally it is pretty safe, especially at that safe distance.

Obviously, climbing volcanoes in Guatemala is an amazing activity and if you are an avid volcano climber, there’s more to it. But the majority of people go up to Acatenango because of the views of Fuego Volcano, which is also called Fire volcano. But everybody knows it as Fuego is for the fire show that it gives you.

I mean, the lava show is spectacular. You will never see anything that unbelievable. However, if you are camping on the opposite side of the volcano, you’re not going to be able to see it. And it’s really important to be able to wake up, and you normally wake up around 04:00 a.m. Because that’s when the real sunrise and all of that magnificence happens.

Also, you don’t want to really walk too far to see it. You want to be able to literally open up your tent and be able to see it. And that actually also goes for when you arrive.

view of fuego volcano from acantenango volcano in guatemala

How long does it take and how hard it is?

So the entire tour, you start at the bottom, and they drive you to the base of Acatenango, and then, depending on your level, it takes about four to 6 hours to get to the top.

And when I say depending on your level, a lot of operators are going to tell you that it’s for any level. If not, it is a hard-ass climb, and I’m talking hard. Okay. So you cannot just have a mild hiking ability. We’re talking about you need to have hiking ability. It is not an easy hike. It could really do a number on you. It is four to 6 hours straight up. So definitely be prepared for that if you are training even better. But if you don’t have any training, it can be really rough.

a group of people hiking to the top of acantenango volcano

Private Tours and Guides

The majority of the operators take groups up, it’s a very few that are actually doing private tours, and the private ones are almost double the price. And if you don’t have the ability, you really don’t want to be able to be the reason why everybody turns back. Because it is legally necessary for the operators to be with you the entire time. So really be aware of this.

There are guides, like on Mount Everest, Sherpas, which obviously Sherpa is known because of the region. However, it’s kind of the same thing. It’s the helpers and the guides and some of them,  if you pay them a little extra, they can carry your backpack.

Food and snacks

The tour operator and guides are the ones that bring up all the food. It’s recommended to maybe bring a couple of snacks, but you’re pretty much covered as far as food goes, especially if it’s a good operator. But they all seem to be good with the food. They will give you lunch, you will get dinner, and you will get breakfast because the following morning you will be down by noon 02:00 P.m. At the very latest, after going down.

Normally, going down takes half of the time as going up, obviously. So just have that in mind. So the food, I wouldn’t really worry too much about it. They do rent gear if you are not geared up for the occasion, but more like clothes because it gets cold, cold, cold up there, and I’m talking about freezing.

a stop on the way to the top of acatenango volcano

Best time to hike Acatenango Volcano

We went in April, when it’s not as cold. The best time of the year to go is usually between December and March, and it is freezing. So if you do not have the proper attire, you can rent from operators, they do rent that out to you. So make sure you arrange that before you go up. They do bring up tents and sleeping bags, but it is not enough. You need to be layered up and dressed up.

Water

It is crucial and very highly recommended, I think it’s even mandatory to bring between two and four liters of water because the tour and guides do not provide you with water. And if they do, it’s very minimal, and it’s all the way at the top once you have reached the top. So you do need to bring your own water, especially for the hike up. It’s a hard hike, it’s tiring and whatnot. So just be prepared. 

people on top of acantenango volcano in guatemala

Summary

  • Make sure that the place that you’re going with has a really good camping area that looks right onto Fuego. Make sure to ask those questions.
  • Make sure that you have the proper gear, definitely the proper shoes.
  • Bring 2-4 liters of water.
  • You need to be a moderate hiker. If you are a beginner hiker, this is not for you at all,
  • Take into consideration the elevation you are going to be getting up there. We’re talking 13,000ft.
  • Make sure to tell the tour operator if you have special dietary issues, vegan, gluten-free, or something like that, this way it is arranged and that they have you taken care of, and normally it is not an issue.
  • The normal price is between $65 to $80 per person, and that includes pretty much everything.
  • The majority of tours are made of groups so if you don’t want to be sleeping with random strangers in the tent you could pay an extra $20 for a private tent.
  • The best time to go is usually between December and March. Otherwise, it is the rainy season and the last thing you want to do is to be on top of a volcano, in the most rustic type of environment, and be rained on all night and not be able to see fuego volcano
  • Make sure to bring a good camera.

Just have all that into consideration when you go, and make sure you do your homework. A hike to Acatenango Volcano is something that you will remember forever.

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