ACATENANGO HIKE IN GUATEMALA – A COMPLETE GUIDE

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Hiking to the summit of Volcán Acatenango in Antigua was hands-down the highlight of my trip to Guatemala and it is definitely not to be missed on anyone’s itinerary! The Acatenango hike is an epic 2-days and 1-night adventure which isn’t an easy feat but it’s 110% worth it.

Not only will you be rewarded with an incredible 360-degree view at the Acatenango summit (which, by the way, sits at 3,976 meters above sea level) but you will also get to experience a close encounter with the neighboring and very active Volcán de Fuego.

I have put together this complete guide of the Volcano Acatenango Hike including an overview of the trek, where to book, what to expect and things to know before you go!

 

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ACATENANGO HIKE OVERVIEW

Day One is approximately a 5 – 6 hour hike from the starting point to base camp, on Day Two it’s a further 1-hour hike to the summit of Acatenango for sunrise and followed by a 3 – 4 hour hike back down again.

These hiking times vary depending on your level of fitness and previous hiking experience. In saying that, the Acatenango hike is suitable for the common traveler with a sense of adventure and a love for the outdoors. I even saw people walking their dogs along the trail, so you’ve honestly got nothing to worry about!

Before I go into more detail, see below for a brief overview of the Acatenango hike:

ACATENANGO HIKE DAY 1

  • 8:00 am / Free breakfast and warm clothes rental at Tropicana Hostel
  • 9:00 am / 1-hour shuttle transfer to the trailhead at Acatenango Volcano
  • 10:30 am / The Acatenango hike begins with rest breaks every 15-minutes
  • 1:00 pm / 30-minute stop for lunch 
  • 4:00 pm / Arrive at base camp and high-fives all around
  • 4:30 – 7:00 pm / Sit around the campfire and marvel at Volcano Fuego
  • 7:00 pm / Dinner is served followed by wine, hot chocolate and marshmallows
  • 9:00 pm / Time to get some rest in the 14-bed cabin 

ACATENANGO HIKE DAY 2

  • 4:00 am / Early rise for the final 1-hour hike to Acatenango summit
  • 5:00 am / Enjoy the sunrise and sweeping views at 3,976 meters
  • 6:00 am / Back to base camp for breakfast
  • 8:00 am / Begin the hike back down to the bottom of Acatenango
  • 11:00 am / Acatenango hike complete and shuttle back to Antigua
  • 12:00 pm / Arrive back at Tropicana Hostel for a hot shower

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WHERE TO BOOK YOUR ACATENANGO HIKE

There are countless tour agencies and hostels in Antigua that offer overnight tours to Acatenango, though it can be quite overwhelming trying to decide where to book.

I personally organised my Acatenango hike with Tropicana Hostel and I highly recommend booking the tour with them. I am not getting paid to write this, I just genuinely had a great experience and can’t fault their Acatenango tour in any way.

The cost of hiking Volcan Acatenango is 450 Quetzal ($60 USD) which is very affordable and great value for money!

 

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The Acatenango tour includes the following:

  • All meals including 2x breakfasts, lunch, dinner (vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options available)
  • Experienced tour guides
  • Free rental of warm clothes and hiking gear of up to 3 pieces
  • Private campsite and toilet
  • Camping bed, sleeping bag, blanket and pillow inside the 14-bed cabin

What you will need to bring:

  • Medium-sized backpack to carry personal items, lunch box and water
  • 4 liters of drinking water (1 liter goes to the guides for cooking)
  • Extra snacks, sunscreen, toilet paper and flashlight 
  • Warm clothes and comfortable hiking shoes

Book Now → Acatenango Tour

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WHAT TO EXPECT AT VOLCAN ACATENANGO

As I mentioned earlier, the Acatenango hike was the highlight of my trip to Guatemala and unlike any other adventure I have been on. Camping on the side of a volcano, overlooking another volcano that frequently erupts is something you don’t get to experience every day!

Volcan de Acatenango is an impressive mountain in itself, though the main attraction on this hike is being able to get up close and personal with the nearby Volcan de Fuego.

Witnessing a volcano spewing lava, rocks and smoke from its vent is a very unique experience that I am sure you will never forget. So pack your bags and get ready to hike Acatenango!

Search All → Accommodations in Antigua

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THE MORNING OF THE ACATENANGO HIKE

A hearty breakfast is served at Tropicana Hostel on the morning of the Acatenango adventure which consists of maple syrup pancakes, boiled egg, orange juice and hot coffee. If you have any dietary restrictions just notify the staff and they will be more than happy to prepare something for you.

Over breakfast, You’ll get to meet the other keen trekkers who will be joining you for Acatenango which is the perfect time to introduce yourself and get to know each other before embarking on the 2-day trek.

If you’re unprepared in terms of not having enough warm clothes and hiking boots, which is most people haha, Tropicana Hostel has more then enough equipment to go around. Do note that during the night and at the summit of Acatenango, temperatures can reach below freezing so you will want to make sure you are well equipped with warm clothing.

Alas, the adventure begins by piling into a minivan to make the 1-hour drive to the Acatenango trailhead, stopping for a few minutes at a convenient store on the way. This is where you can buy the necessary 4 liters of drinking water and any additional snacks you may want. Remember the less weight you have in your backpack, the less strenuous the hike will be, so don’t go buying up the whole store haha!

Before the hike begins, the guides will give everyone a quick briefing on the itinerary and what to expect along the way. There is also a local woman at the entrance selling lightweight walking sticks for 10 Quetzal which comes in handy on the steep trail, especially on the way back down.

 

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THE ACATENANGO TRAIL

The Acatenango trail consists mainly of dirt, gravel and make-shift stairs cut into the mountainside. If you have a decent pair of walking shoes or boots with good grip you shouldn’t have any slip-ups. For the most part, the trail is shaded, though during the last 1 hour of trekking you’ll be exposed to the sun when traversing across the backside of Acatenango to reach base camp.

There is no easing into the hike, the trail is steep right from the get-go so make sure to have a little stretch beforehand. The first 20 minutes of the Acatenango hike runs alongside some cornfields where you can say hello to the local harvesters and enjoy sweeping views of the region. Shortly after, you’ll be completely immersed under a canopy of lush forest.

Every 500 meters or so the guides will stop the group for a short break to catch your breath and rehydrate. There are also several sheltered huts on the way up to plonk your butt and give your legs a rest. Believe me, anywhere you can sit down for a minute and take your backpack off you should use this opportunity to do so.

At 1:00 pm everyone stops for around 30 minutes to have lunch which is a delicious vegetarian burrito, chocolate brownie and a piece of fruit. Again, if you have any dietary restrictions you will be catered for. 

Also along the trail are a few epic viewpoints that are worthy of stopping at for a quick photo. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled to spot Lake Atitlan and its surrounding volcanoes which can be seen off in the distance on a clear day.

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ACATENANGO BASE CAMP

At around 4:00 – 4:30 pm you’ll finally arrive at base camp and catch the first glimpse of the erupting Volcan de Feugo which seems just a stone’s throw away. Apart from marveling at this incredible mountain from across the valley, you can hear its loud groans and feel its powerful energy through the earth beneath your feet. It is truly something else!

 

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You can set your belongings down inside the cabin and roam around the area to capture some photos of the erupting Fuego Volcano or simply sit around the campfire, waiting for the sun to set.

The guides will ask everyone to hand over 1 liter of water which they will use to cook dinner and breakfast the following morning. Although you may not want to part with your precious drinking water, on the plus side, it means your backpack will be 1kg lighter. 

Acatenango base camp sits high above the clouds boasting the most incredible volcano views and watching the sunset on this day was one that I will not soon forget!

Dinner is served around 7:00 pm consisting of rice with lentils, chickpeas, veggies, noodle soup, corn tortillas with cheese and red wine. And, to top it off, a bag of marshmallows to roast on the campfire. 

Our guides said that between 8:00 pm and 9:00 pm is when Volcan de Fuego is most active and they weren’t wrong! Every 5-minutes or so, Fuego would erupt throwing spurts of blazing hot lava high into the air before landing on the slope, flowing down the mountainside. I’ll say it again, it’s definitely not something you get to see every day! 

We all stayed up as a group watching these eruptions in awe while sitting around the campfire. The darker the night sky got, the brighter the flames of Fuego became. 

It wasn’t until around 9:30 pm that everyone tucked into bed inside the warm cabin, ready to wake again at 4:00 am for the final 1-hour push to reach the summit of Acatenango. Don’t forget to set your alarm!

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HIKING TO THE SUMMIT OF ACATENANGO 

At around 4:00 am the last leg of the journey begins to reach the summit of Volcán Acatenango in time for sunrise. Again, the trail doesn’t ease you in at all, it’s very steep right from the get-go and it’s very cold in the morning so be sure to rug up.

It’s recommended to have a flashlight or head torch to aid you in the dark for the final scramble to the top. This section of the Acatenango hike consists of loose rocks and it’s quite narrow in some areas.

Our group beat record time hiking from base camp to the summit of Acatenango in just 1-hour! For other groups behind us, it took them around 1-hour and 15-minutes. 

Reaching the highest point on Acatenango at 3,976 meters was a huge accomplishment for all of us and it was high fives all around. The air is thin and it’s freezing cold at the top but the spectacular 360-degree views of the region, complemented by the sun rising above the horizon is most rewarding!

We spent around 30-minutes at the very summit of Volcan Acatenango, taking photos and marveling at the phenomenal landscape that laid before our eyes. I could have spent hours up there if the temperature wasn’t below freezing!

The hike back down to base camp takes around 45-minutes and you’ll get to chill for about an hour around the campfire whilst having breakfast, tea and coffee.

Related Article → 2 Week Guatemala Itinerary

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THE HOME STRETCH – ACATENANGO

After a hearty breakfast, it’s time to make the home stretch back to the starting point of the Acatenango trek. Even though it’s all downhill, you will be surprised how much your legs will get a workout on the descent. It’s a real leg-burner!

The way down is along the exact same trail you came up on and it takes around 3-hours with rest stops. The temperatures will start to rise the lower you get on Acatenango mountain so feel free to stop at any time to delayer out of your warm clothing.

Before you know it the trek will come to an end and a refreshing lemon drink will be waiting on arrival to quench your thirst. Tipping your guides at the end of the trek is not necessary but a small amount will go a long way. From here a minivan will transport the group back to Tropicana Hostel in Antigua.

Back at the hostel, you’ll have to return any gear that you rented and everyone is welcome to have a hot shower to freshen up!

 

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FINAL REVIEW OF THE ACATENANGO HIKE

All in all, the Acatenango hike is not the easiest hike in the world due to its steep trails, though it’s one of the most rewarding adventures to be had in Guatemala!

In my experience embarking on this trek with Tropicana Hostel, I can’t recommend booking through them enough. The service was flawless, the guides were fantastic, it was great value for money and I think I can speak for our entire group here and say that we all felt completely satisfied! 

If you’re looking for the ultimate adventure, look no further than a 2-day and 1-night trek to the summit of Acatengango Guatemala. I guarantee you won’t regret it!

If you have any questions at all about Volcan Acatenango, please leave me a comment at the bottom of this post and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

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WHERE TO STAY IN ANTIGUA

Antigua has hundreds of accommodations to choose from so I have narrowed it down to a few of the best places to stay in Antigua to suit the needs of luxury travelers and budget backpackers. See the list of accommodations below that I personally recommend:

Luxury: El Convento Boutique Hotel

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Mid Range: Selina Antigua

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Budget: Hotel Casa El Calvario

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FOR ALL OTHER PLACES TO STAY IN ANTIGUA, SEARCH ON AGODA OR SEARCH ON BOOKING.COM

 

ACATENANGO HIKE MAP

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AIRBNB ANTIGUA

Another option for accommodation in Antigua is to stay in an Airbnb, which generally has some great deals!

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LONELY PLANET – GUATEMALA

One of the best books to take on your trip is the Lonely Planet Guatemala Travel Guide!

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WHAT TO PACK FOR ACATENANGO

 

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Waterproof Phone Case: A waterproof phone case is a must-have item! This universal case will keep your phone safe from water damage, sand and scratches during your adventures. Suitable for all smartphone models.

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Microfibre Travel Towel: To pack a towel or not to pack a towel? A standard bathroom towel can take up a lot of space in your travel bag. Get your hands on a quick-dry Microfibre Travel Towel which is perfect for the beach, backpacking, camping and general traveling.

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Rain Jacket: A light-weight rain jacket is an absolute must when traveling! North Face waterproof rain jackets come in both men and women sizes, featuring a breathable mesh lining and adjustable hood that can be tucked away inside the collar.

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Kindle: The best alternative for books! Kindle e-readers are perfect for long haul flights, reading on the beach or a quiet evening away from the bars. Kindle’s are waterproof with rechargeable batteries and adjustable light settings to suit indoor/outdoor conditions. 

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Packing Cubes: My favorite item in my backpack! Perfect for organizing your shirts, pants, jackets, socks, underwear and more. This 5 Set Packing Cubes makes packing easier and more efficient, adding extra space in your bag for your next trip.

Get yours now!

 

Activated Charcoal Tablets: Want to avoid food poisoning? Most of us have been a victim of travelers diarrhea from eating street food. Organic Activated Charcoal Tablets are fast-acting and will rid your system of the bad bacteria that causes stomach upset.

Get yours now!

 

MY CAMERA GEAR

 

Everyday Camera: The most affordable mirrorless camera on the market! I personally use the Sony A7ii Mirrorless Camera on all of my adventures. It’s compact, lightweight and super easy to use for all levels of photography. A 28-70mm Sony lens is also included. 

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Drone Camera: Take your photography to new heights! The DJI Mavic Pro 2 Drone is at the top of the game when it comes to high-quality images and video, easy to control functions and traveler-friendly capabilities. I guarantee you won’t regret purchasing one.

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GoPro Hero 8: One of the most popular cameras on the planet! I love using the GoPro Hero 8 for all of my underwater shots and fast-paced adventures. The GoPro Hero 8 captures the best moments with its wide range of functions that are very simple to use!

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Camera Bag: My favorite camera bag I have ever owned! The Lowepro Protactic 450 AW II Camera Bag features a waterproof rain cover, drink bottle holder, padded compartments for cameras, drones, lenses, accessories and it also has a laptop pocket. 

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Selfie Stick: Everyone loves a good selfie, right!? The Sandmarc Metal Edition Selfie Stick is sleek, stylish and can extend to 1.2m. I find it much easier to take photos and videos with the GoPro when it is mounted to the Sandmarc Selfie Stick!

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Camera Tripod: The Joby GorillaPod is suitable for all cameras. This tripod is easy to use and perfect for setting up a time-lapse video or even using it as a selfie stick. The legs are flexible so you can wrap it around a tree or a pole to get creative with your shot.

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GoPro Dome: Have you ever wanted to capture those under/over water shots with the GoPro? This epic underwater GoPro dome housing is the best camera accessory to have to create the perfect 50/50 shot. I use mine every time I am in the ocean!

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Memory Card: The best thing about SanDisk Extreme Pro is that it delivers maximum speed for images and videos. Having 64GB of storage means that you can store hundreds of files on this SD card for 2-3 days and not have to worry about running out of space.

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External Hard Drive: As a photographer, my images and video files take up a lot of space on my MacBook so I use the WD Elements External Hard Drive to store everything. With 4TB worth of storage space, this is more than enough for 1 years worth of content.

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ONLINE ENGLISH TEACHING

Do you want to travel full-time and get paid along the way?

Teaching English online is one of the easiest and most flexible jobs out there! Become a Digital Nomad, choose your own hours and work remotely from anywhere in the world by teaching English online. All you need is a laptop, good WiFi connection, a TEFL certificate and you’re good to go!

Click here to obtain your TEFL certificate with MyTefl

 

MY SHOP

Before you go, don’t forget to check out My Online Shop!

I’ve got a wide range of digital products for sale and I’m sure you’ll find something that will come in handy during your travels!

SEE MORE → MY SHOP

 

PIN IT FOR LATER

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