How you doin'?
Please, let me tell you the story about me hiking a volcano…
And ooh I’m gonna be honest with you… I didn’t want to go for this hike. But don’t get me wrong… I like hiking, a lot, I just didn’t feel ready for a hike like this. But then, I saw a video about a guy who went up, and I thought to myself:
“Shit. This is too nice. When I’m gonna have the chance to go on the top on a volcano again?!” The answer was “3 days later” *, but I didn’t know it that time, so I decided to join Bálint on this journey. So, if you’re hesitating just as I did and you don’t know if you should do this, I would recommend you to keep reading…
*3 days later I was on the top of Santa Ana volcano, in El Salvador. #Naiceface
About Volcano Acatenango
There are at least 37 volcanos in Guatemala, but just a few of them are still active (Fuego, Pacaya, Santiaguito). One of the most popular volcanoes is Volcano Acatenango, and it has its good reasons.
Its last eruption was in 1972 and it is located close to Antigua, so it’s easy to reach.
Acatenango’s highest point is at 3,976 m (13,045 ft), so when you will be at the top, you will be above the clouds, having the best view. Ever.
It’s close to Volcano Fuego, a very active volcano, which you can see from the top of Acatenango. Fuego erupts almost every 20-30 minutes, therefore you will have the opportunity to see something phenomenal… (You can also go on Fuego, 250 m from the eruption if you want… )
The area around these volcanos is mostly covered with coffee platations. Also, from the bottom to the top of the volcano you have the chance to see a huge variety of plants, which means that you won’t feel bored during this hike.
Do you need to go with a tour?
No, you can do this hike on your own. You just have to follow the path and bring your own stuff: a tent, food, etc. So, it’s doable without any guide, but it’s definitely easier if you don’t do it all alone.
Here are the reasons why we chose to go with a tour:
- We did it with Soy Tour. It is not expensive at all, and a part of the money goes to the local school, so you can support the people who live there.
- They pick you up in the city, in Antigua.
- They provide you with extra equipment if it’s needed (backpack, gloves, walking sticks, etc).
- They give you some snacks during the hike (what you have to carry) + hot meal on the top of the volcano (don’t expect some extra-super-duper food, but if get up there, any kind of hot food will make you happy).
- There are tents and sleeping bags on the top, waiting for you, so you don’t have to carry them.
- They are local guys, who basically climb up and down every day, so they know the volcano. They will support you in any case and most of them can speak English as well.
What to bring
As I said, they will take care (most) of your food, tent and sleeping bag, but you definitely want to have some extra things, like:
- A backpack, with extra space, because
- You should take some extra clothes. Have as many layers as possible. Sometimes it’s super-hot, but sometimes your ass will freeze off.
- Extra snacks. The amount of snacks depends on your needs, but we needed some extra energy…
- Good hiking boots (if you don’t have, you can rent a pair, but be careful, because you will walk a lot in basically new shoes.)
- Water. Water. Water. At least 4 l.
- Good camera. OFC it’s optional, but probably you would like to remember the moment when you saw a volcano erupting… You know, just in case you would like to tell this story one day to your grandkids and they don’t believe you.
About the hike | My story
It’s hard for me to talk about these two days because it was a really bad experience for me.
Of course, I enjoyed it because it was amazing, but yeah…
The thing is, I just had a pair of Vans shoes, which are not the best option for hiking. So, I rented a pair of booths from the tour company. (I don’t really recommend it now)
After everyone was ready, they took us by bus to the starting point and then we started to walk. I think the first part was the hardest because the path was really steep. I got quite tired and we were not even at half of it.
I remember when we stopped for lunch, I already had some pain but I thought it’s nothing serious. By the time we got to the basecamp, I couldn’t really walk. We were above 3000 meters, and I couldn’t walk. I hated everything!
But the view was soooo unbelievable… I didn’t want to complain too much. Our group went for a little walk on the other side of the volcano, for a better view of the sunset…
Then, at night it was super cold and dusty! I couldn’t really sleep at all.
They woke us up around 4 am, to go on the very top for sunrise. Oh, Mamma! This was the WORST! I have no idea how did I survive! The wind was so so strong I couldn’t stand! And just so you know, on the top of a volcano it’s really slippery because of the volcanic sand (or whatever it is)… But, again, the view was so magical, unique… it was the BEST experience!
Then, we went down to the basecamp and after a short breakfast, we started to descend. Well, all I can say about this part is that I was crying almost the whole time… I have some issue with my left knee, which started to hurt as well.
I couldn’t walk properly for a few days, and I’m gonna lose my big toe nail.
This is just my story. Briefly. I still think it’s a really really nice hike and it’s totally worth to experience this.
What did I learn from this? #deepshit
There’s no good without bad.