Trekking Acatenango in Guatemala

or any volcanoes in that matter. When in Guatemala, or Central America, one thing you must do (in my opinion) is to trek a volcano. Its a fun activity and I guarantee you that you will get an experience for life. In Guatemala you can trek three different volcanos: Pacaya (the easy one and probably the best if you aren’t in a good shape/ 13,041ft (3,976m), Acatenango (the hardest/ 13,041ft (3,976m) and Tajumulco (the tallest 13,850 ft (4,220m) – or a combination if you’re looking for some fun adventures. I did the Acatenango and it was definitely a highlight of my Guatemala trip.

Acatenango isn’t just challenging, it’s also incredibly fun. The route has a wild feel to it that will quickly capture the appreciation of any trekker, and shouldn’t be missed by those who are in good shape. This one’s a short drive from Antigua Guatemala and you’ll see a lot of travel agencies and hostels offering a 2-days trek to the summit of this natural beauty.

acatanago-guatemala

acatenango-guatemala1

hiking-team-guatemalaOur trekking team!

How to prepare and what to pack

I did some research of my own to trek the Acatenango, as it is a hard trek and I’ll recommend you to be well-prepared. You can either go on your own (this is only recommended if you have done a lot of similar trekking before, can speak a good amount of Spanish and is in a really good shape) or you can book this trip through a travel agency which includes, transportation, a local guide, food and equipments (tent, sleeping bag). You can request a vegetarian meal, but I’ll recommend you to take your own food with you as the one they provide is in my opinion not suitable for such a hard trek. We got some rice and cooked veggies for lunch, a simple one-pot pasta dish with tomato sauce for dinner and a banana with yoghurt (which I gave to the one of the other trekker) for breakfast – not much for a 2-days trek consider to the amount of energy you will use for this trek. The tour can range anywhere from $40 to $150 but do NOT be suckered in by lower prices. Make sure the company you are going with is reputable and check out the reviews if in doubt. If you need a good company to book a fun and safe trek, I’ll recommend you TrekGuatemala.

hiking-a-volcano

acatenango-basecamp

trek-a-volcanoGrilled corn cobs and ginger/lemon tea – perfect for camping!

vegan-foodHearty lentil-soup to stock up on carbs and proteins! 

What you have to prepare is the mindset of trekking for several hours as the path from the bottom to the summit is quite steep. I would also recommend you to bring your own food that gives you some carbs, hydration and a natural level of energy, warm clothes and some comfortable boots (please don’t do the hike in your sneakers)! Take as little as possible in your backpack as the weight will seems much more heavier than it is on the ground. You can also for an extra Q200 get a guide to have all your gear carried to base camp for you. This not only helps local Guatemalans make money but it takes 35-40lbs of literal weight off your back. So whats to pack?

Food

  • A good pack of trail mix included: nuts, seeds and dry fruits (energy level up)
  • Some bananas: a good source of fibers and natural level.
  • Fresh ginger/lemon: good for the altitude sickness and keeps you warm.
  • Oats: for breakfast with a banana and some trail mix
  • Fresh corn cobs and some soup for dinner
  • 3-4L of water (drink plenty water the day before as well to avoid dehydration)
  • Coconutwater (keeps you hydrated and fills you up with electrolytes)

Most of the items can be bought at the market, the supermarket and Organica which is a health-based food store in the centre of Antigua. Buy your soup, oats and energy-bars here!

Clothes

  • Some comfortable trekking boots
  • 2-3 pairs of socks
  • 1 x pair of trek shorts (it is hot to climb up)
  • Breathable warm clothes (long pants, tank top and a long-sleeved shirt)
  • Long underwear
  • A fleece or hoodie
  • A warm jacket (can be rented at the travel agency)
  • gloves and beanie (can be rented at the beginning of the trek)

If you don’t have any of these items, then its possible to buy most of it at the big market as they know that not many backpackers have this in their backpacks throughout their travels. Some of the items can be rented through the travel agencies and the locals who is to found in the beginning of the trek – don’t worry, they’ll see you first before you see them 😉

Miscellaneous

  • Ipren/Aspirin/Ibuprofen: for the altitude-sickness (that feels like a really bad hungover)
  • Head lamp: there is not much light once you get to the base-camp and climbing the summit in the morning before the sunrise.
  • Hiking stick: you can rent one for Q5 at the beginning of your hike, and trust me, it will be your best friend!
  • Rain-cover: a rain poncho is a good investment in case of raining!
  • Light backpack: (25-30L) for your stuff
  • Chopstick & SPF face moisturizer
  • Ear-plugs: if you want to have some sleep before the summit as the constantly erupting Fuego will wake you up
  • Extra cash: the entrance fee of Q50 is not included and if you want to borrow some warm clothes etc. from the locals at the begging of the hike.
  • Extra battery: for your cell-phone or camera because you don’t want to run out of battery once your up at the summit!

fuego-guatemalaView overlooking the constantly erupting Fuego from our basecamp

trek-a-volcano-guatemalaEarly up at 3:30am to catch the sunrise at the summit!

Hiking-AcatenangoMade it to the summit (3976m) – Plantbased and proud!

Acatenango-guatemalaThe view from the summit is breathtaking!

volcan-acatenango-guatemalaThis view is ALL WORTH IT!

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