Photo Courtesy of Lourdes Díaz
What makes Acatenango Volcano such a special hike: This is the best lookout point to it active neighbour, Fuego Volcano (which happens to be the volcano that Laurel named her cat after). On a good day, from its highest point, you also get views of Pacaya Volcano, Agua Volcano, and all of the volcanoes around Atitlan Lake, and parts of the lake too. The vegetation is also gorgeous. Acatenango is my favourite Guatemalan volcano to hike so far.
Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult. Acatenango is the third highest volcano in Guatemala. When you hike it, try to start as early as possible, before 8 am. Getting up to the crater can take ~5 hours and the walk down 3 hours or more. By starting early, you get to take your time and actually enjoy the place before the sun goes down.
How to do this hike: You need a guide for this one. There is a main touristic route, but it is connected to several older and much harder routes. It’s easy to get lost. Plus the highest parts can be extremely dangerous when the weather is bad and visibility reduced. You can hire a guide from a Guatemalan mountain guiding service that I use for all my guided hikes. If you’re feeling really ambitious you can do the Trilogy – a 3-volcano hike, or inquire about just doing Acatenango.
Food: There are small stores in the town of La Soledad, where the hike starts. But again, they don’t sell much more than water and chips. So be prepared by bringing your food.
Best time of year: November to January. This is when you get some of the best views.
NOTE: Bring warm and waterproof clothes. The weather is unpredictable, and if it happens to be bad, temperatures can drop as low as -2C°.
Ipala Volcano and Lagoon