Three wonderful weeks of culture, nature and climbing an active volcano in Guatemala
- + 6
North America15 days / June 2019
Highs & Lows
Climbing a Volcano and watching the neighboring one erupting
Locals tried to scam us when crossing the border from Mexico saying we need to pay entry fee
My friend and I entered Guatemala from Tapachula, Mexico and had the chance to explore a few villages on the way to lake Atitlan. They were not popular for tourists which has allowed them to preserve the beauty of the traditional Guatemalan culture. Although a bit more popular for backpackers, lake Atitlan also enabled us to experience traditional food, music, mingle with some locals and buy some beautiful clothes with Guatemalan traditional patterns. We stayed at a hostel called Free Cerveza (providing few free beers in the afternoon as the name suggests). The hostel was just on the beautiful lake's shore. It accommodated us in tents instead of dorms which we found very interesting and enjoyed a lot. One day we attended a cacao ceremony led by a long-term expat named Keith. I highly recommend doing that. Keith promotes the cacao as a tool enabling you to connect to what you deeply desire intellectually and spiritually. Another interesting activity one could do is to climb the Mayan Indian Nose and wait for the sunrise. You get there by Tuk-Tuk up to the point where it can go and walk for 30 min more. From the top you can see the lake and all the neighboring villages as well as a few volcanoes at the far end.
From lake Atitlan we headed towards the old city of Antigua. While experiencing it as a top party place with many tourist friendly- hostels, it is also suitable for a family stay. We stayed at Tropicana Hostel that was recommended to us as a party place and it was, indeed. Antigua is an old city full of colours just at the valley of high valleys and Volcanoes. In fact, you can see the very famous volcano Acatenango which is a must-visit stop if you happen to be there. My friend and I spent several days there trying traditional food and immersing ourselves into the culture. Interestingly, there were plenty of vegetarian and vegan options as well. However, bear in mind that sometimes can get a bit pricey because it is becoming more and more popular for foreign travelers. There are many small artisan shops selling traditional textiles and clothing with diverse colors.
As mentioned in the previous paragraph a must do in the area of Antigua is climbing the volcano Acatenango (3976) and witnessing the neighboring volcano Fuego in a very close proximity, erupting. Since it is a long way until you get to the top, this is a two-day trip. I recommend booking it through the agency OX expeditions since they are very professional, providing clothing, food and two experienced guides. We left Antigua with a bus and arrived at the location where we began the hike. We were warned that it is not an easy hike this proved to be true. In 6 hours we arrived at the base camp where we were going to spend the night, sleeping in tents. From there you can see the volcano Fuego erupting! Words and picture cannot explain the feeling of seeing this. It was surreal. On the next day we woke up at 3:30 am and started climbing further so that we could see the sunrise from the summit. It was tough. However, I can humbly say that witnessing the view and Fuego erupting was probably the best experience on my life! The way down was also fun because the ash and dust of the Volcano were as thin and slippery as snow so we were literally skiing.
Q & A
What would you have changed?
I was going together with a friend. If I happen to go again, I would go alone since that way you are much more flexible and also there are a number of other travelers you can hang out with.
Anything go wrong during the trip?
Since we were visiting mostly touristic places, at the end of the day we paid more than what one would expect for a trip in Latin America. However, the volcano experience was the best in my life so it was all worth it.
What tips would you give a friend?
If Guatemala is in your plan, climbing volcano Acatenango is a must!
If I go again, I would bring warm clothes for the volcano hike. However, you can also rent them or take from the agency.
The cheapest and best way to go around is with the so called collectivos and bus for longer trips. Your hostel can help you book one. For short trips within the city best to use is Tuk-Tuk.