Click here to read my short travel guide (money and cards, transport, accomodation, safety etc) about everything you need to know about travel in Guatemala.
Let me tell you that the title makes me sound a lot more extreme than I actually am. Yes, I went hiking on a volcanic field. And yes, I roasted marshmallows over lava.
However, the hike only lasted 1h15 and it really wasn’t that steep to get to the top. Also, we didn’t hike to the crater itself as Pacaya is a very active volcano. Hiking on the volcano itself, especially getting to the crater, is very dangerous and can even kill you.
Nevertheless, it was a great experience. It was my first time hiking a volcano and I would do it again.
There are a couple of things you need to know before hiking Pacaya
- The Tour
You cannot hike the volcano on your own. Like I mentioned in the above paragraph, it’s quite dangerous to do it on your own. Instead, book a tour in Antigua. The tour itself (transport, guide and marshmallows) costs 70-75Q – in July ’17. If somebody tells you a higher price, get the f out of that place and go to another tour company. The price of the tour does not include the entrance fee to the park which is 50Q. You have to pay this on arrival.
There are 2 options; you can choose to get picked up at 6am or at 2pm. 6Am is by far the best idea: better views, not extremely hot, less chance on rain and less people.
- What Do You Need?
– hiking shoes and sport clothes (please don’t wear jeans…)
– a coat. It can rain and it gets pretty cold that early in the morning
– enough water and food
– sunscreen and sunglasses
– at least 50Q per person for the entrance fee
- The Hike
Like I already said, the hike is fairly easy. I’m in a bad shape but had no problems at all doing the hike. The guide stops every now and then which makes it even more easy. Just make sure you ate enough before you start hiking. For those who don’t manage to walk any further, you can rent a horse. It costs 100Q to go up and another 100Q to go down (don’t underestimate walking downhill, it was the most exhausting part for me) which is… very expensive.
- Things You Need to Know
– On the pictures in the tour company offices, you’ll see real lava. You will not see this in real life. The last time Pacaya erupted was in 2010 so obviously there’s no lava anymore. There is a warm spot though where you can roast marshmallows.
– If you go during the rainy season, there will most likely be lots of clouds but that doesn’t mean the experience is any less special.
Should you hike Pacaya?
It depends. If you’ve already hiked lots of volcanoes, it might not be that special. Or, if you’re in very, very good shape, you should hike the Acatenango volcano. It takes 2 days but there’s a big chance you’ll see the Fuego volcano (kind of) erupt and you’ll see the most beautiful sunset and sunrise – definitely worth it I’d say.
However, if you’re like me and you haven’t hiked any volcanoes yet (or maybe just 1), DO IT. Also, you’re in Guatemala. Guatemala is a volcano country. You simply cannot go to Guatemala without hiking a volcano.