Guatemala
La Soledad

Here you’ll find travel reports about La Soledad. Discover travel destinations in Guatemala of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

5 travelers at this place:

  • Day91

    Acatenango Vulkan Trekking

    December 7, 2017 in Guatemala ⋅ ⛅ 9 °C

    Nach zwei Nächten in Antigua geht es heute nun schon sehr Früh mit einer geführten Tour auf den Vulkan Acatenango. Der Veranstalter wurde uns von anderen Reisenden wärmsten empfohlen, da es sich dabei um Einheimische handelt, die mit den Einnahmen u. a. regionale Hilfsprojekte unterstützen.
    Ein weiterer Vorteil ist, dass man für die Zweitagestour weder Schlafsäcke noch Zelt selbst den Berg hinaufschleppen muss, da es oben bereits ein kleines Camp mit allem Notwendigen gibt. Zur Sicherheit konnte man sich unten aber noch zusätzlich dicke Jacken, Handschuhe und Schals ausleihen. Wir waren aber bereits gut ausgestattet.
    Vom Fuß des Vulkans auf ca. 2.200 Meter (bis hier ging es per Minibus) bis zum Camp auf 3.400 Meter dauerte es mit zahlreichen Pausen knapp fünf Stunden bis ca. vier Uhr Nachmittags. Der Weg war sehr steil, womit einige Tour-Teilnehmer Probleme hatten. Wir konnten zum Glück noch von unseren vielen Wanderungen in Peru und Bolivien profitieren. Mit etwas Muskelkater mussten aber auch wir in den nächsten Tagen klarkommen.
    Oben angekommen präsentierte sich uns auch schon der etwas kleinere aber dafür sehr aktive Vulkan mit dem passenden Namen Fuego.
    Eine Stunde zuvor hatten wir wegen dem dichten Nebel befürchtet rein gar nichts vom Vulkan sehen zu können. Aber nun rissen die Nebel- und Wolkenschwaden breitflächig auf, und jetzt lag er fast greifbar in strahlendem Sonnenschein direkt vor uns. Gekrönt mit einem kleinen Rauchfähnchen - dem Indikator für aktive Vulkane.
    Als wir uns es gerade am Lagerfeuer gemütlich machen wollten und uns fragten ab wann der Vulkan heute Nacht sein Feuerwerk zünden würde - es war bereits bekannt, dass er Nachts ca. alle 15 Minuten zu spucken beginnt - da ging es auch schon ganz unvermittelt mit einem tiefen Ehrfurcht gebietendem Grollen und Donnern los. Da der Vulkan doch weiter entfernt ist als es scheint, kommt das Donnern erst ca. fünf Sekunden nach der Eruption bei uns an, sodass - als wir alle total geschockt zum Vulkan blickten - bereits eine Flut von riesigen Gesteinsbrocken über dem Krater durch die Luft geschleudert wurden, gefolgt von dicken, dunklen Rauch- und Aschewolken.
    Jedem Neuankömmling wurde die Power dieser Naturgewalt sofort instinktiv klar. Dabei handelte es sich eher noch um eine kleine Demonstration dieser Kraft, derer wir hier uns nun hilflos ausgesetzt schienen. Als der erste Schreck verflogen war, wollten wir aber auch sogleich mehr davon und standen fast regungslos mit offenen Mündern und Objektiven, bei immer kälter werdenden Temperaturen, gen Fuego. Bis Sonnenuntergang gab es aber keine Eruption mehr in diesem Ausmaß, sodass wir uns nun auf das leckere Abendessen unserer Guides konzentrieren konnten. Es gab über dem Lagerfeuer zubereitete Bohnen, Pasta, Tortillas und Eier), als Nachtisch Marshmellows am Spieß (Pfui Deifl, nicht mal die Hunde wollten hiervon die Reste, definitiv zu großer Ami Einfluss!).

    Noch während des Essens stieß der Vulkan erneut wie beim ersten Mal auf. Erst jetzt, bei Dunkelheit, konnten wir dieses Naturereignis in voller Schönheit wahrnehmen, da die ausgespuckten Gesteinsbrocken dunkelrot glühen und es sich bei den feineren Aussonderungen in Wirklichkeit um Lava-Sprühregen handelt, der sich wie ein Teppich weitläufig um den Krater herum nieder ließ um dann innerhalb weniger Sekunden zu verglühen. Kaum Zeit den Mund zu schließen, die Kamera zu fokussieren und abzudrücken.
    Zwischen den Eruptionen schnaubt der Vulkan wie eine alte Dampflok und rumort wie ein Sommergewitter. Schlafen konnten wir dabei nicht wirklich. Aber es ging ohnehin schon um vier Uhr Früh zum Sonnenaufgang weiter rauf auf den Gipfel des Acatenango auf knapp 4.000 Meter (in ca. 1,5h über Lava-Geröll).
    Dort oben hatte es definitiv unter Null Grad mit eisigem Wind, aber die Bilder waren es wert.
    Der Rückweg zum Camp war ein Spaß, da wir auf dem feinen Geröll-/Aschemix wie im Puderschnee runterrutschen konnten. Nach einem kurzen Frühstück ging es damn auch schon wieder rasch zurück zum Fuss des Vulkans und zurück nach Antigua.

    Diese Tour war auf jedem Fall eines der größten Highlights unserer Reise, welches wir nie vergessen werden.
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  • Day331

    Volcán Acatenango

    April 12, 2017 in Guatemala ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    After reaching our limit at the Tourist Police camp spot we had a choice of either the coast or the top of a volcano, so we chose the difficult option! Volcan Agua had been hovering over the city with a permanent cloud cap so we knew it was was going to be a bit of a change of climate.

    It was only a short drive so we arrived in the afternoon & arranged with our guide Hector to start the next morning, so we had a night to acclimatise to 2300m. Our crazy Estonian friends arrived a bit later but they decided to go up starting at midnight!

    We set off in lovely morning sunshine although carrying many layers of clothes as we were warned to expect extreme cold - in fact 6 people died on this mountain in January from hypothermia and we didn't want to take any chances! We were lucky enough to have as guides not just Hector but his 10 year old son Mina, who was on Easter school holidays and was climbing the volcan for the first time. Of course he & Maya virtually skipped up as we trudged arriba arriba arriba (up up up) first through farmers fields, then into cloud forest & finally through barren volcanic landscape. It was a hard hike & we were relieved to get to our campspot, quickly setting up our tent which Maya immediately crawled into and nestled into our sleeping bags, as sun had been replaced by freezing fog whooshing down from the top of the volcano above us. Hector told us we were facing Volcan Fuego & the fog should clear at night... fingers crossed.

    Héctor made a big campfire & we all chatted with some Guatemalans from nearby Guatemala City who were also doing the hike. We ate our pasta 'n sauce dinner & huddled into our tent with all our layers, plus with Maya in the sleeping bag :), and still felt cold. After managing to get maybe an hours sleep I woke to see that sure enough the fog & clouds had lifted, the wind had died & the smoking peak of Fuego was in front of us surrounded by twinkling stars & lit by the full moon - stunning.

    In the dark at 4:30 we started the brutal final ascent, pretty much straight up some very loose volcanic soil. We were rewarded with a spectacular sunrise at the top of Acatenango & to top it off a big smokey eruption by Fuego only a kilometer or so away.

    As you can imagine going down was much easier, apart from one little tumble! We said goodbye to Hector and his son (who immediately went off to play football with his mates!) & drove to Antigua dreaming of a hot shower. The shower nearly didn't materialise as the hostel we usually have one in was full so turned us away... (even seeing our filthy state & desperation). Luckily the next hostel we tried took pity on us & we had a wonderful hot shower which they wouldn't even accept any payment for.
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  • Day34

    Volcán Acetenango, Guatemala

    February 18, 2017 in Guatemala ⋅ ☀️ 16 °C

    Where do I even start? What an epic adventure. Mixed with plentiful amounts of faffing about, many a tumble and a few what-the-heck-have-I-signed-up-fors.

    We'd all been wanting to have some sort of challenge for a while, so we jumped at the opportunity when we heard a bit about the tough climb that is Volcán Acetenango and the option to stay up there overnight and see the sunrise. Our original research was looking at about $90US each for the expedition but upon our arrival to Antigua, we quickly found that we could do the exact same expedition for as little as £29/$42NZD. Savings. Although don't get me started on that GBP/NZD exchange rate.

    After about an hours drive from Antigua we arrived at the beginning of the hike. When I say the beginning of the hike, I mean what basically looked like a rogue path off the side of the main road with no signs whatsoever. There were just a couple of huts to pay your park fee (again not signposted) and a family home where they sold some much appreciated sticks to hike with, or gave you a last minute opportunity to buy gloves or beanies had you been silly enough to turn up without some.

    Plentiful faffing occurred as we were given sleeping bags, sleeping mats and tents to divide between us and carry up with our packs. At this point I realised I'd either left our GoPro in the van or misplaced it somewhere between the van and the side of the road or it was stolen. Unfortunately no sign of it since. And yes that's the second one in less than a year - GoPro 2, Char 0. Thank goodness for travel insurance but again have lost some photos from the last week, which is always the part that sucks the most!

    Fees paid and bags packed, our group of 18 and our 2 guides finally got on our way. Straight into the ankle deep volcanic sand and the uphill battle which was quick to become the norm on this strenuous hike. Although we started at 2500m, our base camp for the night was situated at about 3600m so we had quite a bit of height to gain, and this trail wasn't going to be easy on us. For some reason I came down with some severe stomach cramps and almost fainted in the first stretch and seriously considered pulling out. Thankfully Mike and Rich came to the rescue and took my bag for a few minutes and then at our first pitstop, my bod seemed to sort itself out. Pheeeeew. I'd say about 90% of the hike was uphill and not just a steady incline, nor any particularly stable ground. Thankfully the first hour or so of the walk was mostly covered by the jungle canopy, giving us some shelter from the heat and sun.

    We stopped regularly, maybe every 20-30 minutes but the five of us being at front of the group became both a blessing and a curse. More time to rest at the breaks but also more time to get cold, especially as we got higher - one of the problems of having a large group with a range of fitness levels. Bear in mind the altitude was making this brutal climb even more brutal. Even in climbing one flight of stairs in Mexico City at 2200m was enough to make you feel like you hadn't been to the gym in years, so you can only imagine how rough this hike felt!

    One thing we were prepared for was that we'd known to bring extra food, as the food we were given was pretty minimal - two sandwiches, instant noodles and a pastry to last us for lunch, dinner and breakfast/lunch the following day. We also had to carry all the water we needed for the two days, which was advised to be 4 litres each. Poor Scotty took a large portion of this so he was really lugging a heavy bag that first day!

    The last portion of our walk to our camp for the night was relatively flat compared to the rest of the day's hike and had us walking through the clouds. We didn't see an awful lot of the views that first day to be honest. Even when we reached our camp at 3600m, we didn't know there was another volcano (Volcàn Fuego) right next to us until we heard it erupting. We weren't expecting that! This also showed our lack of research into this expedition, as we realised photos of this volcano are on all the advertisements of this hike when we got back to Antigua. Classic. Our two little guides ran off to cut down a tree or two with machetes and proceeded to bring them back to cut up for our fire for the night. The boys and I all gave it a try too, harder than it looks though!

    As we set up our tents for the night, the clouds began to clear and eventually we could see the top of Volcàn Fuego as the sun was setting. When darkness fell, the true beauty of Volcàn Fuego's eruptions became apparent. I'd say it was erupting every 5-10 minutes and with darkness we could see the spurts of lava and then watch it travel down the sides of the volcano at great speed. Truly mesmerising and we never got sick of watching it! Unfortunately at night it was too difficult to take photos of but I'm sure the images will be vividly ingrained in our memories instead.

    We huddled round the fire while the guides proceeded to boil some water in a tiny wee kettle on the fire for our noodles and then later roasted some marshmallows and cracked the beers we'd carried up (cheers Mike). Who needs a fridge when you've got cold temperatures at altitude! The amount of stars up here was insane. Every time we looked up I swear there were more. Absolutely stunning and so hard to even put into words, watching an active volcano so close up and thousands of stars too. This world we live in always continues to amaze me with such natural beauty if you make the effort to find it.

    4am rolled around and we forced ourselves out of the our sleeping bags and tents. Not a lot of sleep was had that night due to a combination of things. It was absolutely freezing and we were all wearing basically all the clothes we had, sleeping on essentially volcanic sand and old mate Volcàn Fuego erupting every few minutes sounded like an intense thunderstorm. There were definitely a few times it was so loud I thought the lava was going to make it over to us and we'd be toast! When we got up though, we realised how little we had seen the previous day. It was almost completely clear outside and we could see a second volcano right in front of us as well as Volcàn Fuego, plus the lights from the villages in the valley bellow. Muy bonito.

    After much faffing from the group, (seriously what can one possibly need to do at 4:30 in the morning apart from get dressed?!) we rustled up some energy to get hiking again, the last 300m to the summit - this time in pitch black aside from a few head-torches scattered through the group. As we hiked higher, the sun got closer to rising and we could make out that on one side of our track was the volcano and the other was almost a sheer drop - not sure if it was better to be seeing this or not! Sorry Mum. The last ridge at the top was semi-sketchy, especially as we were a lot more exposed to the wind and cold but it was definitely an achievement to reach the top!

    Unfortunately as we climbed, the cloud had come back but not so high this time - so we could still see the other two volcanoes peeping out. The sunrise was just as stunning and we tucked into some banana bread whilst losing the feeling in our fingers. A few snaps later and we were happy to be heading down again and out of the cold. It was definitely a morning to remember though, hanging out on top of a volcano that we'd worked hard to get to, above the clouds, watching a sunrise.

    Getting down was a bit of a free-for-all, running down the side of the volcano as if it was a sand dune. We got back to base camp within 20minutes or so, compared to the hour plus that it took us to get up!

    Back at camp we finally found some warmth in the sunshine and the hot chocolates made for us by the guides using boiling water and Guatemalan chocolate which is basically just cacao. Then began more faffing from the group as we packed up our tents and then finally embarked on our descent. It was much clearer than the previous day for our descent, which was awesome to see from a height. Our two guides went down at completely different paces, one running off like a wee ninja that Scott and Mike battled to keep up with, the other taking it slow. It was definitely much easier to get down by a sort of gallop/jog/run due to the sandy ground, however occasionally it wasn't so deep, therefore slippery so it was easy to have a few tumbles. Cat's count got to 10 I believe, mine about 7! Thankfully the ground was soft to fall on so no real injuries. What we did have was lungs, mouths and nostrils filled with the dust clouds that running in this sand created, shoes saturated in volcanic sand that I think we'll be stuck with for weeks, and some extremely grubby faces - Scott in particular!

    Our bus back to Antigua couldn't even get going so we had to wait around for another bus to come, beersies in hand. By some miracle the original bus had been to a mechanic to be fixed by the time the new bus turned up an hour or later. Impressive turnaround considering we were in the middle of nowhere really, but we were all super hangry by the time we got back to Antigua as we'd eaten all our food early in the morning. Definitely no contingency plans there!

    I feel like this post and what I've written (even can't do this experience justice but hopefully the photos will fill the gaps a wee bit. Definitely one for the memory bank and a big highlight of all our travels to date.
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La Soledad

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