Volcán de Acatenango

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

21 travelers at this place:

  • Day123

    Volcán de Acatenango, Guatemala

    February 17, 2017 in Guatemala

    Up, up, up and up some more.

    Antigua Guatemala and Lake Atitlan are the mountainous capitals of Guatemala. We'd been eyeing up a challenging hike since we hit this continent and boy did we strike gold.

    Acatanango was not our first pick, in fact we'd been looking further afield, but it had been recommended to us and our hostel offered to arrange it, so we locked in the overnight hike at the modest price of $35NZD per head.

    Acatanango is a giant. It's Ngaruhoe shaped cone tops out at 3980m (taller than Mt Cook!), making it the tallest in the country and one of the tallest in Central America. This region lies on an active fault and is dotted with similar peaks, many still alarmingly active. Lake Atitlan is also a caldera, surrounded by peaks and the geograhical resemblance to the Central Plateau is uncanny.

    Our two day expedition began with some nervous wees and a shuttle pick up. A shuttle pick up always includes a free tour of the town, as one must navigate as many narrow cobbled streets as are required to visit all the hostels, plus some. This tour continued, picking up food and gear and of course tour guides. The tour company obviously not bothering to do all this before they picked us up. Hot tip: Learn to love a shuttle ride.

    Hopefully you're not thinking lesser of us for getting tour guides. Trust me, if they say you need one you most probably do unless you want to get lost, robbed, stabbed or worse.

    The start for this hike was at a local's house on the side of a narrow, two-lane mountain road with no parking or footpath. So we parked on the road, unloaded all our gear into the gutter and repacked our bags with the overnight camping gear and food with which we had been provided - all the while dodging trucks, buses and men on horses. Luckily we were able to fit it in the three tramping packs and two day packs we had; the rental packs comprised canvas on a welded steel tube frame. "In my day..." right dad??

    After some serious faffing and a $10 NZD park entrance fee we were ready to go. Starting elevation: 2500m (over half way already!). We crossed the road and were instantly funnelled into a steep river of loose volcanic rock. It went straight up. It literally pointed at the summit. As far as you could see. In the midday heat, a rising dust cloud and a pack laden two-forward-one-back step routine, it was undoubtedly one of the most brutal ascents I've done.

    And it didn't relent. Up, up, up, rest, repeat. We climbed out of farming pasture (yes, they farm this slope?!), into rainforest and deeper into the clouds. The view disappeared, the temperature dropped and quads and calves burnt like the Great Fire of London. Our group was in surprisingly good shape. The lead pace was slow, and the stragglers were slower still, but we only had one turn back and zero audible tantrums.

    As the afternoon dragged on the trail flattened and forest thinned. We tip toed along the top of the clouds, fatigued yet grateful for the break in ascent. By now the thinning air was adding noticeably to the difficulty. Late in the afternoon I heard a few 'bang-rumbles'. I feared the worst; thunder meant rain. It struck frequently and grew in intensity as we continued. I verbalised my fears and much to my surprise, was informed as to what we were hearing. It was the nearby Mt Fuego, erupting from beyond the clouds!

    By 5pm we were scaling the final stretch to our campsite. This confused me. The whole day I had not seen a single plot of flat land. Certainly nothing flat enough to pitch a tent, let alone ten tents! And we were currently on all fours climbing in tussock laden scree. Where the hell were we going to sleep?! My confusion was resolved moments later when we scrambled past a homemade timber retaining wall. Genious. There were several of them; a few meters high, constructed of stripped trees from the surrounding forest and cutting into the steep volcanic rock face. Each retained just enough rock to pitch a row of tents on the 'flat'. Hazardous terrain encompassed each site, making even just going for a wee quite a risky exercise.

    It was an unceremonius end to the day. We had not yet conquered the beast and the thought of a cold nights sleep on rock wasn't exactly what we desired, although putting down the pack for the last time felt damn good! Our mood was swiftly replaced with excitement by another huge bang from Fuego. Heads swivelled to watch the giant blast another ash cloud into the atmosphere. It wouldn't be the last. As the night fell the blasts became more and more regular, and the lava brighter and brighter, rocketing out of the crater and tumbling down the cone. Explosions of molten orange in all directions. By now the high clouds had evapourated, thousands of stars had come to shine and our fantastic guides had made us a fire. We'd also snuck up a couple of beersies each (cheers Mike!) which had finished chilling in the crisp mountain air.

    That evening was worth every step of the climb. We sat around the fire drinking beer, eating ramen noodles and toasting marshmellows, with the mountain of fire providing endless spectacle under the starry night. Truely incredible.

    During our earlier excitement, our guides had snuck off and felled a tree each for firewood. They'd made good use of the scree and dragged the 5m long trunks back to site. Their evening's entertainment was letting the more foolhardy of us chop them up with a machete. Hard work for the days end, but it generated heat we much desired, especially Cat who had brought up and worn every item of clothing she had plus some of mine!

    To say we awoke the next morning would be misleading, as most of us never slept. The freezing cold, continuous blasting and a rocky bed countered our fatigue and prevented any decent rest. 4am slowly drifted around and we were roused back into the icy wind for the summit climb. It was cold. Really cold. And pitch black, thanks to the rogue head torch straight to face, abolishing any form of night vision that might have developed under the half moon.

    The ascent started slowly, as we slipped and scrambled and bumped into each other. With no cloud cover yet, the sparkle of distant towns was our only reference point, and progress was faster than it seemed - especially with no packs. It only took an hour and a half before we were making the final ascent to the summit, with the sky glowing orange, blue and black under the rising sun. In an unworldy coincidence, with the sky still half black, we popped over the summit of Acetenango to witness Fuego in all her might; firing lava high into the sky and down her slopes in a fashion only hollywood could recreate. By this stage, low level cloud had drifted in, soaking the lowlands in a fluffy white blanket. The only land visible was the peaks of numerous mountains, poking up from the mystery below. Peak elevation: 3980m.

    We sheltered from the roaring sub zero winds in the lee of some rocks, tucked into some banana bread and muesli bars whilst watching the sun rise over Mt Agua, a nearby peak, and Fuego continuing to announce its presence. It was a morning I will never forget.

    Moments before frostbite cut through my cotton socks (yes, yes, no cotton on the mountain - sorry mum and dad!) we were hustled to the start of the descent. The triple head count that ensued was by far the biggest indicator of the guides' care for our wellbeing I had witnessed all trip. That quickly went out the window as we burst into a free-for-all descent. Shoes buried deep into the soft scree as we ran, jumped, skidded, slid and skied down the mountain, narrowly missing rocks and on occasion, each other. The hour and a half ascent obliterated by a fifteen minute run-tumble back to base camp.

    By the time we got back, we'd all warmed up, the sun had turned on the heat and the wind eased. We drank hot chocolate on heaven's porch, soaking up the sun, the view and the morning that was.

    A lot more faff followed as we packed up camp and readied for the descent. The packs were much lighter without the water, beers and food yet the legs were suffering from the previous day and descending was no less brutal. We had one fast guide (running fast) and one slow. The fast guide set a pace almost impossible to match; ascending the steep, slippery narrow and winding track like we had the summit earlier that morning. Very impressive. Meanwhile in the middle of the field, the quads had packed in and a combination of fatigue and lack of coordination saw Cat rack up quite the number of spills. Perfectly acceptable under the circumstances, I might add. In fact, by the time we reached the bottom, at around midday, I was thoroughly impressed at the state the team was in. Well, except for the fact we looked and smelt like we'd been dragged through a chimney.

    We were spent and ravenous. We loaded up the van and prepared to depart. The thought of jacuzzi and pizza were making my mouth water. However, it was not to be. Our van crapped out (for lack of a less vulgar phrase) leaving us tired, hungry and stranded on the side of the road for nearly two hours. Aid came in the form of cold beer and it would have taken a lot more than a broken bus to bring me down from that high (no pun intended). A huge thanks to nature for nailing the weather and the tectonic activity and to our legendary guides/Guataninjas for putting up with useless gringos and learning english for us!!!!

    By the time we made it back to Antigua in our rapidly repaired bus, we were hangry, busting for the loo and in need of a shower. After much debacle, our needs were met (in that order) so we put our tired, wrinkly feet up in newly appreciated comfort and relived the day that was.
    Read more

  • Day170


    August 4 in Guatemala

    C'est parti pour l'ascension du Volcan Acatenango. De Antigua, nous nous rendons aux pieds du volcans à 2300m d'altitude. En quatre heures, nous grimpons à travers une forêt (qui ressemble à la forêt hantée de blanche neige), puis au milieu des conifères.
    Arrivé au camp d'altitude, au milieu des nuages, nous rencontrons un australien. Il est arrivé la veille et n'a encore rien vu à cause du mauvais temps. Pas très encourageant. D'autant que vers 16h il se met à pleuvoir. Ce qui s'annonce comme une mauvaise nouvelle est en réalité une chance. Après la pluie, les nuages se dissipent. Nous apercevons enfin les autres volcans qui nous entourent.
    Le Fuego d'abord, qui, il y a deux mois, à causé la mort de 200 personnes lors d'une grosse éruption. Quand les nuages disparaissent totalement du volcan, nous voyons la colonne de fumée qui s'élève du sommet. On peut aussi deviner le trajet de la lave à l'absence d'arbre sur une partie de la montagne. Nous sommes déjà ravi de ce que nous voyons (hier, on ne voyait pas à deux mètres). Mais se n'est qu'un début.
    Peu avant le couché du soleil, c'est le volcan Agua qui fait son apparition. (À en juger par l'antenne qui se trouve au sommet, je dirais qu'il est en sommeil)
    Nous assistons donc à un couché de soleil grandiose. Entre les nuages et les volcans, les couleurs de fin de journée nous enchantent.
    Quand la nuit finie par tomber, un nouveau volcan se dégage au loin. Si nous ne pouvons distinguer sa forme dans la nuit, nous savons très bien duquel il s'agit. Et pour cause, nous voyons la lave rouge s'écouler du Papayan.
    Que d'émotions pour cette journée, nous n'en revenons pas. Jusqu'au moment où une personne du groupe pousse un grand cri. En un instant, nous nous retournons tous. Juste à temps pour voir l'éruption du Fuego ! La première en deux mois. Une immense colonne de lave rouge orangé s'élève dans le ciel. Suivie rapidement par une colonne de fumée noire.
    Des images plein la tête, nous allons nous coucher. Alors que nous discutons tranquillement dans la tente, des cris de joie retentissent à nouveau. Nous passons la tête hors de la tente. Par chance, cette nouvelle éruption et la prochaine (même scénario), durent plus longtemps. Nous pouvons donc profiter de ce phénomène exceptionnel trois fois dans la soirée.
    La nuit, en altitude, dans le froid, et des images qui tournent en boucles dans la tête, je dors peu.
    À 4h, nous reprenons l'ascension pour parcourir les 400m de dénivelé qu'il nous reste pour atteindre le sommet à 3976m. Au moment où nous arrivons en haut, le levé de soleil commence et le ciel change de couleur. Encore un moment magique, mélange de couleurs, de nuages, de volcans et de lave.
    Sur le retour, le ciel est beaucoup plus dégage que la veille. Nous voyons encore mieux les volcans. Pour la première fois, nous voyons la plaine en contre bas. Ce qui me parait être un énorme cours d'eau asséché est en réalité la coulé de lave d'il y a deux mois.
    Nous rentrons à Antigua épuisés, mais émerveillé par les dernières 24h.
    Read more

  • Day179


    July 31, 2017 in Guatemala

    It's taken me a while to summon up the strength to write about Acetenango. I joke, but this one is a hard one to right... stick with me and you'll soon understand why.

    We were picked up at 8am by an old school bus, and taken to a house outside of Antigua to pick up our equipment for the hike. Although extremely chaotic, we were eventually given sleeping bags, a tent, mats and food for the next 2 days. There wasn't enough food to go around - a sign of things to come.

    We then drove for another hour to the starting point of the hike. At this point, we rented walking sticks and hats. Phi's bag was towered over her head, and lots of the Guatemalans were laughing and pointing at us, telling us that we would regret not getting porters to carry our bags.

    The first part of the hike was a complete shock to the system. With our 10kg+ bags we walked uphill for what felt like an eternity, although it was probably only for about 20 minutes. A few breaks on, we made it to the halfway point. This was my low point as I started feeling really drained of energy. The hike up to base camp was 4 hours of pure uphill, probably one of the most physically demanding things I have ever done.

    When we arrived at base camp, we were all in high spirits to have arrived. It was pretty cold, at around 3,600 metres above sea-level. Our tents were assembled and with six of us in a tent we were pretty confident that we would have a warm night's sleep. This illusion was shattered when we found that our tent didn't properly close and had a huge gaping hole at the bottom.

    With our lovely group, we sat around a campfire with some tunes, pot noodles and hot chocolate. It was a bit later into the evening when one of our guide's (the bright spark) came up with the idea of sewing our tent shut with a needle and thread. Begger's can't be choosers and that was the only solution we had.

    Around 8pm we all collapsed into bed. Freezing cold and pretty uncomfortably, we were sewn into our tent and "slept" untill 3.30am. Throughout the night we were woken up with the sounds of the heaven's opening - and our tent leaked and my sleeping bag and shoes got completely soaked. After little rest, we were woken up at 4am to walk to the summit to see Volcan de Fuego erupting.

    It is probably at this point that I should actually mention the whole reason we were doing this hike - not because we are insane human beings who enjoy 4hr uphill hikes and freezing cold conditions. The point of this hike is because, from Acetenango, you can see the active Volcan de Fuego erupting at night. Tbf, this was absolutely wicked. The volcano is steaming and erupting all the time, and in the pitch black you can see the lava exploding. Without a doubt one of the coolest bits of nature I've seen on my whole travels.

    So, at 4am we started the 1.5hr steep uphill hike to the summit. I found this part a lot easier than the hike the day before with our heavy bags, although I know a lot of people struggled more with this part. The gravel slips below you as you try and climb up to the summit. When we arrived, my brief joy was soon overcome with some of the harshest winds I have ever experienced and it was freezing cold. We were on the top for around 20 minutes, with enough time to see an amazing sunrise over the whole of Antigua/ Guatemala City/ the volcanoes, before starting the descent down.

    So going down should be the easy part right? Wrong. Nothing about Acetenango could be described as 'easy'. Going down was like freestyle skiing over loose gravel and I was terrified of falling headfirst. Alice and I slowly descended, reaching base camp before packing up our tents. We then started the 2 hr descent back to the starting point. This was a different type of endurance and my knees were in absolute pain because of the steep downhill. It was also so slippy because it had been raining all night. Reaching the end was amazing and we had celebratory beers before getting the bus back to Antigua.

    Looking back, I don't know if I'll ever be sure if it was entirely worth it. It was definitely one of the most physically demanding things I have ever done. But tbh, getting to watch an erupting volcano was pretty cool.
    Read more

  • Day144

    ... oder besser gesagt der Kampf mit Acatenango!
    Voller Vorfreude einen aktiven Vulkan aus nächster Nähe zu erleben, habe ich eine Overnight Tour auf den Vulkan Acatanango gebucht. Zelt und Schlafsack waren schon oben, d.h. man musste nur noch sein eigenes Zeug schleppen, perfekt.
    Es wurden 3 Liter Wasser empfohlen, ich hatte 5 Liter im Gepäck + warme Sachen und Essensration für die nächsten 24 Stunden (vorgekochte Spaghetti, zwei Sandwiches, Haferflocken und Erdnüsse). Die Tour war als anspruchsvoll  beschrieben, egal, wird schon  nicht so schlimm sein...
    Nach den ersten 1,5 Stunden war ich schon gut fertig. Insgesamt ging es 4,5 Stunden bergauf, von 2.300 m auf 3.600 m! Die Höhenlage machte das Ganze nicht leichter. Oben angekommen waren 4 Liter Wasser verbraucht und ich am Ende meiner Kräfte. Ich hab mich in ein Campingstuhl fallen lassen und hab die Aussicht genossen. Als Option konnte man nochmal 1,5 Stunden zur Spitze wandern, nein danke. Der Vulkan Fuego hat regelmäßig Rauch ausgespuckt und 2-3 mal kam anstatt Rauch Lava raus geschossen. Sehr imposant! Die Nacht war sau kalt und um 4 Uhr zum Sonnenaufgang vorbei, was sich aber gelohnt hat, da der Sonneaufgang wirklich eine  magische Atmosphäre hatte. Nach Haferflocken und Kaffee ging es 2 Stunden bergab.
    Ich weiß nicht was schlimmer war, bergauf oder bergab. Aber unten angekommen habe ich meine Beine kaum noch gespürt.
    Read more

  • Day191

    Acatenango Vulkan (2)

    April 11, 2017 in Guatemala

    Um 3.30 Uhr ist die Nacht vorbei. Der benachbarte Vulkan bricht aus: ein Wahnsinnsanblick! Wenig später stehen wir dann auch auf, um unseren Vulkan zu erklimmen. Und diesmal lohnt es sich auch mal früh aufzustehen, um einen Sonnenaufgang anzusehen. Der Abstieg ist deutlich schneller als der Aufstieg und so sind wir um 10.00 Uhr wieder im Dorf und um 12.00 Uhr dann auch wieder in Antigua. Nachmittags haben wir frei.Read more

  • Day4

    Acatenango Gipfel

    October 14, 2017 in Guatemala

    4:00 Uhr morgens. Was sonst.

    Nachdem wir uns schon die halbe Nacht um die Ohren geschlagen haben haben, um diesem einmaligen Naturschauspiel folgen zu können, heißt es nun, die restlichen anspruchsvollen 300 Meter zu meistern, um einen spektakulären Sonnenaufgang vom Gipfel des Vulkans genießen zu können. Mit Stirnlampe und Cornyriegel bewaffnet machen wir uns an den Aufstieg, um DAS erleben zu dürfen:Read more

  • Day190

    Acatenango Vulkan (1)

    April 10, 2017 in Guatemala

    Heute startet unser zweitägiger Ausflug zum Acatenango Vulkan. Mit dem Bus fahren wir eine Stunde Richtung Ausgangspunkt - einem Dorf am Fuße des Vulkans, in dem wir mit Zelt, Schlafsack und Isomatte ausgerüstet werden. Nach 5,5 Stunden erreichen wir unser Basislager und schlagen unsere Zelte auf. Abends machen wir ein Lagerfeuer und schlafen auf 3.600m Höhe mehr oder weniger warm ein.

  • Day3

    Acatenango Basecamp

    October 13, 2017 in Guatemala

    6 km, 1.100 Höhenmeter und etwa 6h später: Ankunft im "Base Camp"
    Die Wolkengrenze ist längst überschritten, die Luft ist merklich dünner geworden.

    Fertig aber glücklich kommen wir an.
    Noch während wir unser Zelt errichten gibt es plötzlich einen lauten Knall. "El Fuego" ist mal wieder eruptiert. Eine riesige Rauchsäule steigt gen Himmel. In der Ferne hört man es noch rumoren.

    Nun sollte ich vielleicht noch erwähnen, dass uns unser Weg auf den Gipfel des Acatenango, des mit 3976m 3.- höchsten Vulkans Mittelamerikas führen soll, ein dankenswerterweise schon seit vielen vielen Jahren inaktiver Vulkan. Von diesem aus hat man aber einen fantastischen Ausblick auf den seit Kurzem wieder aktiveren Vulkan "El Fuego" (3763m)

    Aber zurück zu unserem Explosiönchen-
    dieses Schauspiel sollte sich etwa alle halbe Stunde wiederholen. Und dann erst die Nacht! Kaum war für Sonne untergegangen, sah man, wie die Lava in die Luft schoss und sich den Vulkan hinab ergoss.

    Leider ist "El Fuego" etwas kamerascheu, weswegen ich euch leider nur eine Idee davon vermitteln kann, wie spektakulär das Schauspiel gewesen sein muss

    Hierunter gewinnt ihr einen besseren Eindruck :
    Read more

  • Day362

    Kranker Scheiß

    August 30, 2017 in Guatemala

    Normalerweise bin ich ja mit Gefühlsausbrüchen durchaus zurückhaltend, aber heute war phänotastisch. Es stand wieder ein Vulkan an, der Atacenangu. Es ist der dritt-höchste Berg in Guatemala und Mittelamerika mit 3.976m.
    Die Besteigung erfolgt mit einer Übernachtung, also ging es heute in einem sehr, sehr gemütlichen Tempo zum Camp und hier kommt es.
    Direkt nebenan ist der Vulkan Fuego (dt.: Feuer) und der Name kommt nicht von ungefähr. 2,5 km Luftlinie vom Camp speit dieser aktive Vulkan Asche und Lava. Gerade bei Nacht ist das ein so surreales Bild, das ich es immer noch nicht ganz glauben kann.Read more

  • Day363

    Morgenröte auf dem Vulkan

    August 31, 2017 in Guatemala

    Nach einer sehr kurzen Nacht ging es um kurz vor vier auf den Weg zur Gipfelerstürmung. Stürmisch war es dann auch und verdammt kalt. Entschädigt wurden wir dann mit einem herrlichen Sonnenaufgang. Runter ging es durch herrliches Vulkangeröll, dieses Mal ohne Schlitten. Dabei schaffte ich es dann auch, dass mich meine Kamera überholt. Die wurde netterweise später kostenlos in einem Fotogeschäft gereinigt.
    Zum Abschied vom Camp spie der Fuego dann auch noch mal Asche und Lava in einigen mehrere 100m hohen Fontänen aus. Danach waren dann auch alle gut geschafft.
    Read more

You might also know this place by the following names:

Volcán de Acatenango, Volcan de Acatenango

Join us:

FindPenguins for iOS FindPenguins for Android

Sign up now