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|
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.|
|furry caterpillar friend.|
|this is one of my absolute favorite pictures ever|