Acatenango Volcano Hike: The BEST Guide

Acatenango Volcano Hike

Thinking about doing the Acatenango Volcano hike but not sure where to begin? We’ve got you covered!

Hiking the Acatenango Volcano was one of the highlights of our time in Guatemala, and we are excited to share this complete guide, with everything you need to know to prepare for this unforgettable experience!

In this post we will cover:

  • Essential details and logistics of the Acatenango Volcano Hike
  • Detailed analysis of the best tour operators
  • Safety precautions and tips for a successful expedition
  • What to pack for the hike, ensuring you’re well-equipped
  • Insightful recommendations and firsthand experiences from our adventure
  • Unveiling the awe-inspiring views and unforgettable moments along the trail

So brace yourself for two amazing days as you traverse farmland, cloud forests, alpine forests, and volcanic terrain while relishing the beauty of this extraordinary country.

Overview of the Acatenango Volcano Hike

Hiking Acatenango Volcano

One of the best things to do in Guatemala and Central America, the Acatenango Volcano hike begins just outside of Antigua, Guatemala near the villages of Aldea La Soledad and San Jose Calderas. High up on the volcano, you will spend the night overlooking the active Fuego Volcano which is an amazing experience to witness.

On the first day, your adventure begins around 8 to 9 am, with a quick shuttle from Antigua to the trailhead. From here, prepare yourself for a challenging 4 to 6 hours hike to the Acatenango base camp.

Upon reaching camp, take a well-deserved rest before deciding if you will hike to the crater of Fuego Volcano. This is a grueling 3 to 5 hours hike, but is an incredible opportunity to witness the volcanic activity up close.

On the second day, you will have an early morning summit attempt of Acatenango Volcano around 5 am which will take 2 to 3 hours. Don’t forget to witness the magical sunrise behind the majestic Agua Volcano, painting the sky with vibrant hues.

After conquering the summit, return to camp for a satisfying breakfast. Following breakfast, you will have an additional 2 to 3 hours descent to the base of the volcano where you’ll be picked up and shuttled back to Antigua. Arriving around 1 pm you’ll have plenty of time to reflect on the extraordinary adventure you’ve just completed.

Key Hike Details:

Distance: The hike covers a total of 10 miles (16 km), with an optional 2.5-mile (4 km) detour to the Fuego Volcano viewpoint.

Elevation Change: Be prepared for a challenging elevation change of 5,200 feet (1,585 meters).

Altitude of Summit: The summit of Acatenango reaches an impressive altitude of 13,041 feet (3,975 meters).

Difficulty Level: Considered difficult, this hike requires a good level of physical fitness and stamina.

Duration: Plan for a 2-day, 1-night adventure.

Related: Ultimate Antigua Guatemala Digital Nomad Guide

How long is the Acatenango Volcano Hike?

Acatenango hike distance

Curious about the duration of the Acatenango Volcano Hike? Most hikers complete this adventure over a span of two days.

While it is technically possible to do the hike in one day, opting for the two-day option allows you to fully immerse yourself in the experience. The total distance is approximately 16 kilometers, with a slight variation depending on your tour operator. If you choose to hike to the Fuego Volcano viewpoint, it will add an additional 4 kilometers. The overall hiking time between the two days will be between 11 and 16 hours depending on the fitness level of you and your group.

To ensure a smooth and enjoyable hike, I would also recommend you to spend a few days in Antigua before the hike to acclimatize to the higher altitude and prevent any possibilities of mid-hike altitude sickness. Take this time to explore the charming city of Antigua, soak in its vibrant culture, and prepare yourself physically and mentally for the incredible journey that lies ahead.

How hard is the Acatenango Volcano Hike?

Acatenango hike difficulty

Are you ready to take on the Acatenango Volcano Hike? As an avid hiker myself, I understand the importance of assessing the difficulty level of a trail before embarking on an adventure. Let’s dive into what you can expect from this thrilling expedition.

The Acatenango Volcano Hike is no walk in the park. Even for experienced hikers like myself, it proved to be a challenging endeavor. The trails are steep, and hiking through volcanic ash adds an extra level of difficulty. Mental preparedness and reasonable fitness are crucial before starting the hike.

For those concerned about their fitness level, there’s an option to hire a porter who can carry your heavy gear for a fee of Q150 each way. This can make the hike slightly less difficult, allowing you to focus on enjoying the journey.

Weather on the Acatenango Volcano Hike

acatenango hike weather

Planning to embark on the Acatenango Volcano Hike? It’s essential to consider the weather conditions, as they can greatly impact your experience. Let’s take a closer look at what you can expect during different seasons and stages of the hike.

The best time to do the Acatenango Volcano Hike is in the dry season between November and April. Although the temperatures drop significantly at night, this period offers clearer skies, providing stunning views of the active Volcano Fuego. Be prepared for chilly conditions, with temperatures plunging below freezing. Layer up and bring appropriate cold-weather gear to keep warm.

Even if you find yourself in Antigua during the wet season, from May to October, don’t fret! You can still embark on the Acatenango Volcano Hike. However, be prepared for occasional rain and potentially obstructed views of Volcano Fuego due to clouds. Don’t let the rain dampen your spirits. With the right gear and a positive mindset, you can still have a memorable experience.

As you commence your hike, the weather may vary depending on the day. At the start, you’ll be below the cloud level, which means you might encounter fog, rain, or even sunshine. Once you reach base camp, you’ll usually find yourself in the clouds or above them, where the primary concern is the cold.

During the hike, you’ll traverse through volcanic ash, which means you’re likely to be covered in dirt and ash by the time you return to Antigua the next day. It’s important to note that there are no showers at the Acatenango base camp. Embrace the ruggedness of the experience and come prepared with extra clothes or wipes to freshen up after the hike.

Can you hike Acatenango Volcano without a guide?

Can you hike acatenango without a guide

Let’s address the question on many hikers’ minds: Can you embark on this adventure without a guide? Here’s what you need to know.

While it is technically possible to hike Acatenango Volcano without a guide, it presents significant challenges. Unless you plan to complete the hike in a single day or have your own camping gear, navigating the trail and organizing logistics can be quite difficult on your own. Not to mention, the public campground are on the opposite side of the volcano, without any views of Fuego Volcano.

Booking a tour guide is highly recommended for a smoother and more enjoyable experience. With a tour guide, you can bypass the hassle of route planning and food preparation. Additionally, you’ll have the advantage of knowledgeable and professional local guides who possess in-depth knowledge of the volcano, enhancing your overall hiking experience.

Based on our personal experience, we highly recommend Wicho & Charlie’s as a tour company. After thorough research and consideration, we believe they offer the best value for your money. However, there are several other reputable tour companies that you can choose from.

Is the Acatenango Volcano active?

Is Acatenango active

Curious about the volcanic activity on Acatenango Volcano? Let’s explore the details.

Acatenango Volcano itself is not active. However, it offers something truly spectacular—an up-close view of the neighboring Fuego Volcano. While Acatenango slumbers peacefully, Fuego remains active, with frequent small eruptions occurring every 15 to 20 minutes.

At the base camp on Acatenango Volcano, you’ll have a front-row seat to witness the power of Fuego. Particularly in the evening and early morning, you can marvel at the captivating eruptions of Fuego, creating a mesmerizing display of natural beauty. Don’t forget your camera to capture these incredible moments!

Best Tour Companies for the Acatenango Volcano Hike

Looking for the best Acatenango tour company to make your volcano hike unforgettable? We’ve got you covered. Book in advance to secure your spot and avoid disappointment, as these tours fill up fast!

Wicho & Charlie’s

Wicho & Charlie’s, best acatenango tour operator

Overview

One standout tour company for your Acatenango Volcano hike is Wicho & Charlie’s. Established in 2017, they offer a top-notch experience with a focus on sustainability and animal welfare, providing a portion of their profits to help plant new trees every year and feed orphaned dogs and cats at a local animal sanctuary. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Plant-based Meals: Enjoy delicious, plant-based meals that cater to different dietary needs, ensuring a satisfying experience for all hikers.
  • A-Frame Cabins: Instead of tents, Wicho & Charlie’s provides cozy A-frame cabins at the base camp, offering warmth and protection from the wind and cold, as well as safety from any eruptions.
  • High-Quality Guides and Gear: Benefit from experienced and knowledgeable guides who will enhance your hike, along with quality gear provided for your comfort and safety.

Cost

Q760 ($100 USD) for All Included Package

Q200 ($25 USD) extra for additional hike to Volcan Fuego

Inclusions

  • Park entrance fee (Q110)
  • Tips for Guides (they prioritize fair compensation for their guides)
  • Gear and clothing (toque, scarf, buff, winter gloves, sweaters, windbreaker jacket, winter jacket, water bottles)
  • Drinking Water
  • Vegan Meals (2 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 1 dinner, and snacks)
  • Private, round trip transportation from their office in Antigua
  • Professional guides
  • Camping equipment (A-frame cabin, mattresses, sleeping bags, pillows)
  • Free locker storage

Exclusions

  • Trekking poles (Q40 additional)
  • Thermal Base Layer (Q20 additional)
  • Merino Wool Socks (Q15 additional)
  • Backpack (Q35 additional)

Key Details

  • Arrive at agency at 8 am to pickup gear and enjoy breakfast
  • Depart from Antigua at 9 am
  • One guide for every 6 travelers
  • Option to hike to Volcan Fuego for an additional cost
  • Fresh and hot vegan meals
  • Hike to summit of Acatenango at sunrise

🔗 Want to Book? Wicho & Charlie’s

Ox Expeditions

Ox Expeditions

Overview

Established in 2004, Ox Expeditions is an eco-friendly tour company known for its high-quality meals, guides, and gear. They also contribute to the development of Guatemalan children by teaching English, environmental stewardship, and guide skills. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Wood Cabins: Experience cozy wood cabins at the base camp, providing warmth and comfort throughout the night.
  • Professional Guides: Benefit from knowledgeable guides who will make your hike safe and informative.
  • Fresh and Hot Meals: Enjoy delicious meals prepared fresh during the hike to keep you energized and satisfied.

Cost

Q710 ($90 USD) per Person

Q300 ($40 USD) extra for additional hike to Volcan Fuego

Inclusions

  • Private round-trip transportation from your Antigua hotel
  • Professional guides
  • Rental Gear
  • 2 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
  • Camping equipment (wood cabins, mattresses, sleeping bags)
  • Free locker storage

Exclusions

  • Park entrance fee (Q110)
  • Tips for guides
  • Snacks
  • Additional gear and clothing
  • Drinking Water

Key Details

  • Arrive at agency between 6:30 and 7 am to pick up gear and eat breakfast
  • Depart from Antigua between 8 and 9 am
  • Option to hike to Volcan Fuego for an additional cost
  • Fresh and hot meals
  • Hike to summit of Acatenango at sunrise

🔗 Want to Book? Ox Expeditions

V-Hiking Tours

V-hiking tours

Overview

Founded by Elvin Soy, an Inguat-certified guide who grew up just 2 miles from the Acatenango Volcano trailhead in the town of San Jose Calderas, V-Hiking Tours provides work opportunities for locals while offering a cultural immersion. Here’s what makes them special:

  • Local Expertise: Benefit from Elvin’s lifelong experience climbing the mountain, providing you with in-depth knowledge and insights.
  • Cultural Experience: Enjoy typical Guatemalan food prepared in the home of your guide, adding an authentic touch to your journey.

Cost

Q550 ($70 USD) for foreigners

Q450 ($60 USD) for Guatemalans

Q200 ($25 USD) extra for additional hike to Volcan Fuego

Inclusions

  • Park entrance fee (Q110)
  • Private round-trip transportation from your Antigua hotel
  • Professional Inguat-licensed guides
  • 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 1 dinner, snacks
  • Camping equipment (tents, mattresses, sleeping bags)

Exclusions

  • Tips for guides
  • Additional gear and clothing
  • Drinking Water

Key Details

  • Pickup from hotel is at 7 am
  • Each group has one guide for every 7 travelers
  • Option to hike to Volcan Fuego for an additional cost
  • Fresh and hot meals
  • Hike to summit of Acatenango at sunrise

🔗 Want to Book? V-Hiking Tours

Old Town Outfitters

Old town outfitters

Overview

For two decades, Old Town Outfitters has been providing top-notch hiking experiences. With their wealth of expertise, you can trust them to make your Acatenango Volcano hike memorable. Here are the highlights:

  • High-Quality Guides and Gear: Benefit from experienced guides and reliable gear, ensuring a safe and enjoyable journey.
  • Mountain Biking Trips: For those seeking an alternative adventure, Old Town Outfitters also offers mountain biking trips on Acatenango Volcano.

Cost

Q850 – Q1,700 ($105-210 USD) per person, cheaper depending on number of guests

Q200 ($25 USD) extra for additional hike to Volcan Fuego

Inclusions

  • Park entrance fee (Q110)
  • Private round-trip transportation from your Antigua hotel
  • Professional trekking guides
  • 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner, snacks
  • Camping equipment (tents, sleeping pads, sleeping bags, trekking poles, backpacks, and jackets)

Exclusions

  • Additional gear/clothing
  • Drinking Water

Key Details

  • They also offer a 3-day, 2-night trek for those interested in hiking up Volcan Fuego.
  • Departs from Antigua at 7:45 am
  • Hike to summit of Acatenango at sunrise

🔗 Want to Book? Old Town Outfitters

Trek Guatemala

Trek Guatemala

Overview

Discover the authentic essence of Guatemala through Trek Guatemala’s diverse tours and hiking expeditions. With a focus on culture, service, and sustainability, they offer a unique and enriching experience.

Cost

Q875 ($110 USD) per Person

Inclusions

  • Park entrance fee (Q110)
  • Private round-trip transportation from your Antigua hotel
  • Professional trekking guides
  • 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner, snacks
  • Camping equipment (tents, sleeping pads, sleeping bags, and trekking poles)

Exclusions

  • Tips for guides
  • Additional gear and clothing
  • Drinking Water

Key Details

  • No option to hike Volcan Fuego
  • Departs from Antigua at 8 am
  • One guide for every 16 travelers
  • Hike to summit of Acatenango at sunrise

🔗 Want to Book? Trek Guatemala

Tropicana Tours

Tropicana tours

Overview

Experience the warmth of La Soledad’s community as Tropicana Tours hires local guides, ensuring their well-being and above-average wages. Stay in cozy wood cabins, sheltered from the wind. Note that their guides do not speak English.

Cost

Q720 ($92 USD) per Person

Q200 ($25 USD) extra for additional hike to Volcan Fuego

Inclusions

  • Park entrance fee (Q110)
  • Private round-trip transportation from your Antigua hotel
  • Local trekking guides
  • 2 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 1 dinner, snacks, and glass of wine
  • Camping equipment (wooden cabin, sleeping pads, and sleeping bags)
  • Free locker storage
  • Free shower after the trek

Exclusions

  • Tips for guides
  • Additional gear and clothing
  • Drinking Water

Key Details

  • No option to hike Volcan Fuego
  • Their guides do not speak English
  • Departs from Antigua at 9 am
  • Hike to summit of Acatenango at sunrise

🔗 Want to Book? Tropicana Tours

Should you also Hike Fuego Volcano?

Fuego volcano hike

Yes, while hiking to the ridge of Fuego Volcano (Volcan de Fuego) is grueling and very difficult, especially after already hiking up Acatenango, it is a truly magical experience!

Once at the Acatenango base camp, you will have around an hour to rest before tackling the brutal hike, consisting of a steep downhill hike from Acatenango and then another steep uphill to the ridge of Fuego Volcano.

While most tours will arrive after dark, some may make it in time for sunset. Either way, it will be a cool experience, as seeing the lava erupting from Fuego Volcano after dark is a surreal experience.

Be sure to bring extra warm clothes with you, as the temperature drops very quickly after sunset and you will get cold fast.

After spending an hour at the ridge, it will be time to hike back to base camp. This is when having a headlamp with you will be especially important, as you hike down the steep and slippery volcanic rocks and ash of Fuego Volcano.

Is the Acatenango Volcano Hike Safe?

Acatenango Volcano hike safety

Yes, the Acatenango Volcano Hike is safe. Here’s why:

  • Low volcanic eruption risk: Acatenango Volcano has been dormant since 1972, minimizing the risk of volcanic activity.
  • Low crime risk: With high tour group traffic, the likelihood of encountering any criminal activity on the trail is very low.
  • Well-marked trail: The trail is well-defined, reducing the risk of getting lost.

However, there are a few safety considerations to keep in mind:

  • Cold exposure: Base camp and the summit can be extremely cold. Ensure you have proper clothing and gear to prevent hypothermia. Choose a tour company that prioritizes your comfort in this regard.
  • Fuego Volcano ridge: Hiking to the Fuego Volcano ridge poses some safety risk. Although eruptions are typically small, a larger eruption could be hazardous due to exposure to the elements.

What to Pack for the Acatenango Volcano Hike

What to pack for acatenango hike

When preparing for the challenging Acatenango Volcano Hike, it’s important to pack the right gear. Don’t worry if you don’t have everything, as most tour operators offer gear rental or include it in the tour. Here’s what you should bring:

  • Extra warm layers: Nights can be cold, so pack additional clothing
  • Waterproof coat: Be prepared for heavy rain showers and keep your other clothes dry
  • Quality headlamp: Essential for evening hikes to Volcan Fuego or early morning summiting.
  • Portable charger: Ensure your phone stays charged for capturing amazing photos or consider bringing a good camera.
  • Sturdy hiking boots: The trail is rugged and demanding, especially if you plan to hike Volcan Fuego.
  • Backpack (40L to 55L): Optimal size for carrying your gear. Avoid oversized backpacks with unnecessary space.
  • Water: Depending on the tour company, you might need to bring your own. Aim for 4 liters for the first day and 2 liters for the second.
  • Snacks: Some tours provide snacks, but in case they don’t, bring your own.
  • Scarf, gloves, and a hat: Keep yourself warm and protected from the elements.
  • Waterproof pants and rain cover: Essential in wet weather to keep yourself and your gear dry. Plastic bags can be used as a backup.
  • Hiking poles: Vital for navigating steep terrain and volcanic ash.
  • Cash: Bring Q110 for the park entrance fee if it’s not included in your tour.

Related: 13 Best Hiking Boots for Ankle Support

How is the food on the Acatenango Volcano Hike

Food on the Acatenango hike

During our hike with Wicho & Charlie’s, the food exceeded our expectations. We enjoyed four high-quality meals (2 breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 1 dinner), and we never went hungry despite our big appetites. The food was much better than what we experienced on previous overnight hikes.

Here’s an example of a typical menu with Wicho & Charlie’s (100% vegan):

Day 1 Breakfast: Fried beans, bananas, toasted bread, hummus, marmalade, peanut butter, nutella, and vegan butter.

Day 1 Lunch: Pasta salad with veggies.

Day 1 Dinner/Supper: Lentil curry (Guatemalan style) with rice.

Day 2 Breakfast: Burrito of rice, beans Soy Al Pastor “meat”, and ranchera sauce.

Snacks: Apple and a big bag of trail mix that you make yourself from their trail mix bar.

If you want extra snacks, there’s a shop about 15 minutes into the hike. You’ll also find a few vendors at the park entrance gates selling limited snacks and drinks.

Before you begin the hike, it’s essential to check with your tour group about the water they provide. Some tours offer unlimited water, while others don’t provide any. This is crucial because there’s no running water at the Acatenango Volcano base camp.

Where to Stay in Antigua

Where to stay in Antigua Guatemala

When planning your Acatenango Volcano hike, it’s important to book comfortable accommodations before and after the hike. Depending on your tour company, you may not sleep well in tents on the volcano. Luckily, I had a fantastic sleep at Wicho & Charlies in their cozy A-frame huts, which was one of my best sleeps during our entire trip in Guatemala.

Here are some accommodation options in Antigua based on your budget:

  • Budget: Yellow House B&B – A quiet and affordable B&B in the heart of Antigua. We stayed here after our hike and loved the amazing continental breakfast every morning.
  • Budget: Tropicana Hostel – Perfect for solo travelers looking for a party atmosphere.
  • Mid-Range: Selina Antigua – Ideal for digital nomads who need to work before and after the hike.
  • Mid-Range: The Purpose Hostel – Enjoy a tranquil atmosphere with a rooftop garden overlooking Antigua and the surrounding volcanoes. It’s a great place to reflect on your Acatenango Volcano experience.
  • Luxury Option: Barbara’s Boutique Hostel – The most luxurious hostel in Antigua, offering a high-end experience to complete your Acatenango Volcano hike.

Where to eat in Antigua after you finish?

Rincon tipico, where to eat in Antigua Guatemala

After completing your hike, treat yourself to a delicious meal in Antigua. Here are some of our favorite dining spots:

  • Rincón antigüeño (also known as Rincon Tipico) – Enjoy affordable Guatemalan stews and BBQ.
  • Guatelaria – Indulge in traditional Maya stews like Subanik or Kak Ik made with high-quality ingredients.
  • Samsara – Satisfy your craving for vegetables with the best vegan food in Antigua.
  • Street food at Parque La Merced – Delight in mouthwatering street food favorites like rellenitos, pupusas, atol de elote, tostadas, chile rellenos, and bunuelos.
  • Fernando’s Kaffee – Start your day with an amazing breakfast, freshly roasted coffee, and locally made chocolate.

For more information and additional recommendations, check out our post on the 10 Best Restaurants in Antigua Guatemala. Enjoy a memorable dining experience to complete your journey!

Was the Acatenango Volcano Hike Worth it?

Acatenango Volcano Hike: The BEST Guide -

Absolutely! Despite its challenges and demanding nature, the Acatenango Volcano hike proved to be a truly rewarding experience. It stands out as one of the highlights of our journey in Guatemala.

Compared to the dormant Pacaya volcano, Acatenango and its proximity to the active Fuego volcano provide breathtaking views that are truly unparalleled. The awe-inspiring encounter with the active volcano makes it an unforgettable adventure.

Where to Next?

What’s your plans after finishing the Acatenango hike?

If you’re digital nomads and planning to spend some more time in Antigua, check out our complete Digital Nomad Guide to Antigua Guatemala.

We hope you enjoyed this post! Let us know in the comments below about your experience hiking Acatenango Volcano!


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