A Facebook message from our friend Sarah suggested that we should climb Volcano Acatenango as part of our stay in Antigua. Ash had been itching to do some hiking and had been eager to climb a volcano since our days in Mexico. Unfortunately due to her Guatemalan Weight Loss Plan (GWLP), we weren’t able to do Volcan de San Pedro, so we had to choose between Pacaya (2 hours) and Acatenango (2 day hike with an overnight stay on the volcano). We decided to take Wilson and Sarah’s recommendation and booked the overnight hike for the next day. Nothing like spending 4 days in bed with the GWLP to train for two full days of hiking…
The hike was the most challenging and lengthy that we’ve ever done, but totally worth it. The trek up the volcano to the
crater campsite was around 6 hours (all uphill, our backpacks full of food, water and sleeping bags). We would have complained, but our guide was carrying at least as much as us… while collecting firewood along the way. We set up camp and had a great fire that we shared with our guide and two other hikers from Spain (also known as “Barcelona” from here on out by our guide).
The wind really picked up and we spent quite an uncomfortable night in the tent. We woke up at 4:30 a.m. the next morning and summited after trudging uphill through black gravel in the dark while we were pretty much still asleep. Oh yeah, and then there was the wind. As we summited, the wind whipped us and caused us to lose our balance and made photo ops, walking, breathing and standing very difficult. We spent a bit of time at the top (just over 13,000ft) huddled against the volcano avoiding the wind as much as possible and admiring Fuego, the nearby active volcano, while it spewed white and black smoke as it erupted.
The hike down was approximately three hours or so, straight downhill. There was quite a bit of slipping, sliding and bailing involved, but we made it down in one piece!