Acatenango Volcano Day Hike
Our group leaves from Antigua at (yawn!) 5:00am, where a one-hour drive takes us up 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, incredible floral biodiversity, 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, colorful Quetzal bird.
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 lunch is prepared around 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 last section of ascent is sand and gravel scree-trail dotted with dwarf pine trees and high alpine mosses. As we approach the summit, we find the exposed rocky surfaces left by the gusty and cold winds which constantly pass over Acatenango’s peak .
At the summit, your guide will prepare a fresh, well-earned picnic lunch while you rest and enjoy unparalleled 360-degree views of the Guatemalan highlands. Atop the summit we will also fix our attention on nearby and constantly erupting Volcan Fuego. With a bit of luck, Fuego will put on a high altitude firework show, displaying violent explosions of gas, rock, and lava.
After 30-60 minutes at the top (depending on conditions and time considerations), we will begin our 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.