Climbing the Acatenango Volcano is for many travelers the main reason for visiting Guatemala. It is the most active Volcano in Central-America and you can get a front row seat to this spectacle of nature. The two day hike is a physical challenge, but a rewarding one! Everyone I know that managed to climb the Volcano has told me it was the highlight of their trip. At the top, you get to see both a sunset and sunrise with an erupting volcano as a backdrop. A sight you may only get to witness one in your life. Here you’ll find everything you need to know about the overnight Acatenango Volcano hike.
What to expect during the Acatenango Hike
You start the hike at 2.800 meters high and will climb to 3976 meters total. You’ll hike for about 8-9 hours over 2 days time. If you add the additional Fuego hide you can add 4 hours to that.
Around 8:30 in the morning we left Antigua. We drove about an hour to our companies headquarters so that those who needed it, could choose their gear for the hike. Then it was another 5 minute drive to the start of the hike. We took 4,5 hours to hike to basecamp. The first part of the hike made us a little scared what was to come, because you start out on a pretty steep part with loose gravel. This means 3 steps forward, one step back. You’ll need a scarf or mask to protect you from the dust. Luckily the trail does get easier. You’ll reach the beautiful cloud forest and you can take plenty of breaks in between. I was surprised to learn that a few hours in you could still find a shop selling drinks. At the last stop to buy snacks and drinks we sat down for lunch. Near the end of the hike we were really starting to feel the altitude. Thankfully, the last part is a lot less steep! We arrived at basecamp with plenty of time to relax and take in the view of the erupting Fuego volcano. We watched a beautiful sunset and right after the sun had sunken behind the horizon we enjoyed our dinner around the campfire. After taking our time watching the lava light up in the dark we went to sleep in the shared cabins. During the night the loud eruptions would wake us up and I couldn’t help, but peeking outside to get one more look.
At around 4:30 in the morning you have to be ready for the final stretch to the top. This part of the hike is tough because of the altitude. At the top it’s freezing cold, so take all of your layers and don’t forget a hat and gloves. During the hike itself, the movement warmed me up, but at the top, while waiting for the sunrise it was very chilly. Luckily we were rewarded with a beautiful sunrise and a great view of both the Agua Volcano and the Fuego.
The additional Fuego hike
Once you get to the basecamp you have the option to do an additional hike onto the Fuego Volcano. This is a way to see the lava up close. You already get a pretty amazing view from the basecamp and it’s not guaranteed you’ll have a better view on this hike. However, most people take the risk and embark on another 4 hours of hiking for an opportunity to see an eruption even closer up. If you do get to see it, natures grandeur will make you shake in your boots. It’s known to be harder then the hike up to basecamp, so most people that opted to do this hike didn’t make it up for the sunrise the next morning.
Should I hire a porter?
Carrying some hiking clothes is very manageable, but add a camera and 3 liters of water and it becomes a lot more challenging. I therefore considered for a moment if I’d need a porter. However, if you want constant access to the camera you’ll have to carry it and you need to carry at least one liter of water to have it ready to drink. So, I figured I’d be carrying some stuff anyway. I ended up carrying my own bag.
Can anyone do this hike?
It’s not an easy hike, but with an average level of fitness you’ll be able to it. You have time to take breaks if you’re struggling, but because of the slippery path I would suggest good footwear. I’ve seen people attempt it with normal sneakers and they really struggled.
What company should I book the Acatenango Volcano hike with?
There are about 40 companies offering the overnight trek. The prices range from €40 to €100 for the tour. There are however a few things to look out for when booking your tour. Makes sure to ask about group size, do they have tents or cabins, is the hiking gear included and do the guides now what to do in case of altitude sickness.
Most of the cheaper tours stay in tents instead of cabins and don’t have quality gear for you to wear. If however you want to save money and you already have your hiking gear, this could be a good option. Some of the cheaper tours are just as good as the more expensive ones and include more or less the same.
I personally booked with CampAKT. The tour cost 560 Quetzal/€66/¢71. You start the day by picking out any gear you need for the trek and then a bus takes you to the start of the hike. The campsite on Acatenango was perfectly located, with an incredible view of the Fuego volcano. We slept in Cabins, which could fit 5 people. They limit group sizes to 10 people, which is great! This way you get a very personal experience. Some of the other groups had around 40 people. (Tropicana & Soy tours both have large groups). The guides were very kind and helpful and made sure we all got up there safely.
From where can I climb this Volcano?
The beautiful Antigua is the starting point for climbing Acatenango. Make sure to take a few days to Explore Antigua, because it might just be the most beautiful town in all of Guatemala. It’s also a good idea to let your body adjust to the altitude before starting the climb.
My Favorite places to stay in Antigua
Adra Hostel: A great place to stay in the center of town, with a beautiful rooftop and a great restaurant. The dorm rooms are quite large, but every bed has a curtain, it’s own electrical socket an a little light.
Maya Papaya: We took a 18 hour shuttle from Nicaragua to Antigua in Guatemala and knew we were not going to in the mood for a party hostel. We booked this hostel because it looked nice, clean and had good reviews. It exceeded all our exceptions. Everything was so well thought out. You could tell the owners were concerned with making your stay as great as it could possibly be.
Another good hostel option is Selina Hostel.
Barbara’s boutique hostel:Besides a dorm, this hostel also has private, luxurious rooms. It has a great vibe and there is a kitchen available for those who like to cook.
Looking for a more unique destination? A little outside Antigua, you can find Earth Lodge. This is a beautiful escape to nature. They offer yoga, wellness services and lots of adventure activities!