Dec 16, 2014


Climbing a volcano is not something that ever really crossed my mind as something that I wanted to do, but then the opportunity arose to climb one of the smaller volcanoes just outside of Antigua and I leapt at the opportunity.

Enter Volcan de Pacaya or just Pacaya. I went into this trip totally blind. Knowing that I was to be picked up at 6am and dropped back off about noon. Pacaya is about 30 minutes away from Antigua, so that left 4 hours of volcano time.

There are other volcanoes in Guatemala that you can climb and stay the night and watch the eruptions, but that required a weekend excursion and I just wasn't sold on using one of my 3 precious weekends for a volcano.
Fuego (with the steam) and Actenango
Hiking Pacaya was the perfect solution.

Now let me warn you. You don't actually climb Pacaya. It is way to dangerous and active to actually climb. It erupted this past March and the land around it is still covered in hardened lava.

That being said, I absolutely recommend climbing, err hiking next to, Pacaya. There are generally two tours that go, one at about 8 am and one at 3 pm (at least out of Antigua. I am sure there are others). Take the morning tour. Guatemala tends to get cloudy in the afternoon and then you won't see the volcano. #fail

I read a lot of reviews about Pacaya and people were saying that the hike is really tough and to take the guided horse tour. That my dear friends is a lie. The hike is about 6km total. So just over 3 miles round trip. No part of it is especially strenuous either. Be careful on the cobblestones at the base of the hike, but other than that you should be just fine.

The tour guides are knowledgeable and friendly. I think our tour was entirely in Spanish, but that may have just been the three dudes from Spain and Colombia that were walking in front of me. The guides stop along the hike and let you take pictures/catch your breath. It is quite spectacular.
Nothing like being on a hike for one volcano and seeing the other two on your route.
The trail is full of history. The natural landscape of Guatemala is just breathtaking. The guide told us about almost everything we pointed at along the way.

If I remember correctly, this is a 400 year old Oak tree. I could be wrong on the age. Either way it was giant and beautiful. I am fascinated by trees. Especially ones that have a history.
furry caterpillar friend.

 There she is. In all her glory. The volcano. Not me. You could see the plumes of smoke and where the lava was flowing down the side of the volcano. Pretty cool if you ask me. Oh also all that brown, yea, that used to be lush and green. Volcano eruptions tend to kill those types of things...
We really lucked out with the weather. There was not a cloud in the sky for the most of the hike. And when clouds did come in, they moved right on by rather quickly.
If you ever get the chance to walk on a recent lava flow, I highly recommend it. And if they offer you the chance to roast marshmallows, then by all means you do it.
I can't say enough about the views. So I won't. Just look.
this is one of my absolute favorite pictures ever

nerd alert.
I can't recommend enough going on a hike next to Volcan de Pacaya. You won't regret it and you definitely won't forget it.