Looking to do the Acatenango and Fuego Volcano hike in Guatemala? You have come to the right place! In this article I will provide you with tips, recommendations and inspiration to tick this adventure off your bucket list.
But first, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Marco and I am from Italy. I grew up in a small town called Cassano Magnago, around 45 minutes from Milan. My passion for traveling and photography started in 2015 when, thanks to an exchange program organised by my university, I had the opportunity to spend a semester abroad in Hong Kong.
That experience completely changed my way of seeing the world. I began meeting people from all over the world and we started traveling together around Southeast Asia. We visited many places including Myanmar, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and other places in China.
At that time the only camera I had was a GoPro. I started taking photos and videos with it. Once I came back from Hong Kong, I was bored in the first few months at home and was eager to travel again. I decided to take a trip around Europe and while doing so I applied for my masters in the US.
In America, I spent some quality time practicing with my first DSLR camera and took many adventures around the United States, in Central America and South America too. Right now, I work 100% remotely and am based in Atlanta, Georgia. Working remotely gives me the advantage of traveling frequently and being flexible with my schedule.
Inspiration to Visit Guatemala
In November, 2019 I visited my first Central American country – Panama. I was impressed by the destinations, how nice people were and how cheap it was compared to other places I had been. For that reason, I decided my next trip would have to be to another country in Central America.
Costa Rica and Guatemala were at the top of my list. I then decided on Guatemala because I was inspired by some amazing places I saw on Instagram like Tikal and the Acatenango and Fuego volcanoes. I contacted a friend and in two weeks we booked our flights. He was flying from Switzerland while I was coming from the US. We met in Antigua.
Eight Day Adventure in Guatemala
After that, we started our two day Acatenango and Fuego Volcano hike. Right after this hike, without even taking a shower, we ran to the bus station to catch a bus for Guatemala City. From there we traveled to Rio Dulce. Following some time at the river we moved to Livingston where we had the chance to visit Cayos de Belice on a day boat tour.
Tikal was our next destination as we planned on arriving by bus but unfortunately due to road closures caused by protests the buses weren’t operating. We paid a local guy and convinced him to drive us from Puerto Barrios to Tikal through some back road in the middle of the jungle. It was an adventure! We arrived in Tikal at night after hours of driving.
Seeing the ruins of Tikal was just extraordinary. Our last day was spent at Crater Azul and then we took a flight from Tikal to Antigua Guatemala where we spent our last day. It was definitely a journey but totally worth it!
Acatenango and Fuego Volcano Hike with OX Expeditions
I found out about the Acatenango and Fuego Volcano hike on Instagram and after seeing the eruption I said: “I absolutely have to go there”. So in general the Acatenango and Fuego Volcano hike was one of the main reasons that brought me to Guatemala. After doing heaps of research on different tour companies, we decided to join a tour with OX Expeditions.
The tour was well organised since part of the base camp was already established and we only needed to bring some parts to build the tents. They provided us with all the necessary gear and equipment including food and water. I would recommend joining a tour unless you are familiar with the area. The hike is long and you need to be physically ready.
Some parts especially (like the early morning hike in the dark) would have been impossible without a guide who knew where to go to reach the top of the volcano in time for sunrise. You can check out OX Expeditions here.
Our Itinerary doing the Acatenango and Fuego Volcano Hike
It took us around three to four hours (if I remember correctly) to reach the base camp. After that we rested and had lunch before starting another two hour hike to the base of Fuego Volcano to get super close to the eruption. We came back to the base camp after sunset and I remember that all of the members of our group were exhausted from hiking.
In the morning we woke up at 3:30am and hiked to the Acatenango volcano in the dark. We reached the summit before sunrise. Honestly, I am generally fit, practice sport regularly and have done lots of hikes. But for sure this two day hike would be in the top 5 hardest hikes that I have done.
Challenges of the Acatenango and Fuego Volcano Hike
Some parts of the hike are steep and also the terrain is slippery. In addition, we were carrying big backpacks containing food, drinks, sleeping bags and parts for the tents which all contributed to making the hike even harder.
The hardest part was the morning hike to the top of the volcano. Some people in our group didn’t make it to the top and decided to come back. I didn’t have any altitude problems but one or two people in our group came down with altitude sickness. Another challenge was the temperature since it was windy and cold, especially at night and in the morning.
Incredible Moments at the Top
Reaching the top of the volcano, after the strenuous morning hike and with the amazing view of the other volcanoes at sunrise, was one of the most beautiful moments I have ever experienced in my life. I almost cried tears of happiness and joy as our tour group was one of the first to reach the top that day and so we had the crater of the volcano all to ourselves.
But the most incredible moment for me was when the volcano erupted. It happened five minutes after we reached the top. During this moment, I realised that all the challenges we faced on the hike to the top were nothing compared to the natural beauty I was seeing then.
The sound of the eruption together with the flowing lava down the ridges of the volcano was something I will never forget. It was definitely the highlight of my trip. I remember while taking photos of the eruption that my hands were freezing since I removed my gloves. However, at that moment I was so excited that I didn’t care about anything else.
I wish I could have flown my drone from the top of the crater though but unfortunately the wind was strong that day. In general, I was so happy that I kept taking the same pictures and videos 100 times over. I didn’t want to lose a single moment of that show nature was putting on for us.
Amazing Overnight Base Camp at Acatenango Volcano
Overnight we slept in a base camp on Acatenango volcano. The camp was above the clouds and had epic views of Fuego Volcano and Agua Volcano. We built the tents with the parts we brought in our backpacks while there was another small area with an open tent that was already built.
We would use this space to eat at night and get warm close to the fire. From the base camp at night it was possible to see and hear the numerous volcanic eruptions in the distance. Also, in the tent for me, it was hard to sleep both because of the excitement and from the noise of the eruptions.
How to Prepare for the Acatenango and Fuego Volcano Hike
This experience is hard and people that want to do the Acatenango and Fuego Volcano hike need to be physically fit. There are different tour options and some of them are easier and shorter than others. If you feel like the two day hike is too much then you can always do the day hike.
To prepare for the hike I would suggest taking regular hikes in the months before. That way you will find this hike a bit easier. I also recommend packing light and not bringing unnecessary things. I remember that my pack was quite heavy because I brought my drone and camera equipment.
Key Tips for the Acatenango and Fuego Volcano Hike
- Pack light
- Bring toilet paper
- Wear high quality hiking boots
- Capture as many photos as you can
- Take warm clothes since it’s freezing at the top
- Find the tour that best suits your needs and physical abilities
- It won’t be easy but you will see that the Acatenango and Fuego Volcano Hike is one of the best in the world!