8. Acatenango Volcano 2-Day Hike
This 2-day/1-night hike brings you up the slopes of beautiful Volcan Acatenango to our
private campsite – bench-cut into the side of this towering mountain. From here we enjoy our camp
meals, incredible views, and plenty of room to stretch out. In camp there we will have ample time to
appreciate the sights and sounds of nearby Volcan Fuego’s violent volcano eruptions. On the morning
of the 2rd day, our group will summit Acatenango’s peak (3,975m/12,720ft - the third highest volcano
in Guatemala), taking in panoramic views from atop the summit. Finally, we will descend back down
through a myriad of microclimates to return to Antigua by early afternoon.
Day 1: Hike To Camp
Our group leaves from the Old Town Outfitters Shop at 8:00am, where you can fill up your
water bottles and purchase any additional gear you might need. Hikers should eat breakfast
beforehand and pack a small snack for the road. A one-hour drive takes us from Antigua to the sleepy
mountain village of La Soledad, perched on the ridge of the Pacific slope of Volcan Acatenango. The
trail up Volcan Acatenango has four distinct microclimates, each of which will take you about an hour
to traverse. We’ll begin by walking up a steep trail through local farm fields - the same trail used by
local villagers each morning to access their corn, snow pea and lily fields. Our first hour of hiking will
help you acclimatize and warm up the leg muscles for the day’s hike.
The second phase of our ascent passes through old-growth tropical cloud forest. In this
environmental zone, we find some of Acatenango’s oldest trees, an incredible biodiversity of flora
and fauna, fresh mountain air and the sounds of local birds and wildlife. This type of high-alpine
cloud forest is found on the upper slopes of many of Guatemala’s tallest volcanoes and mountains,
and is home to the famous Quetzal.
After exiting the cloud forest, we will be rewarded with fantastic views of the other highland
volcanoes (Atitlan, Toliman, San Pedro, Santa Maria, Santo Tomas, Tajamulco), along with glimpses
of the Cuchumatanes mountain chain. A fresh picnic is prepared mid-day for our group to enjoy.
Temperate coniferous forest and tropical dry forest characterize the 3rd phase of our ascent,
which will lead us to the storm-beaten tree-line of the volcano. Our campsite is perched just below
tree-line with sweeping views of the Antigua valley and Volcan Fuego. After setting up camp, hikers
are free to rest, relax and enjoy their surroundings while our guide prepares a fresh camp dinner at
~3750m with hot tea and coffee.
Day 2: Summiting Acatenango
In the morning, after an early camp breakfast, our group embarks on a 45-minute ascent to the
summit on a sand and gravel scree-trail dotted with dwarf pine trees and high alpine mosses. The
trail up to the summit is the steepest we will have seen, and leads to the rocky summit exposed to the
gusty and cold winds which constantly pass over Acatenango’s peak.
At the summit, our group will rest and enjoy unparalleled 360-degree views of the entirety of
the Guatemalan highlands – all the way to the border of Mexico. After 45min at the top (depending
on conditions and time considerations), the group will begin the 3-hour descent back towards La
Soledad. Our group has the opportunity to descend through an alternate route down Volcan
Acatenango, experiencing a variety of microclimates and beautiful trail. From La Soledad, we will
transport back to Antigua, arriving in the afternoon with plenty of time for you to enjoy the delights
of the old Spanish colonial capital (~13:00hrs).