Do you want to challenge yourself? Do you like to do something active? Then you have to climb a volcano. The Acatenango hike can be done in 1 day. We recommend that you do it in 2 days so that you can see the sunrise at the top of the mountain. During the two-day excursion you will spend the night on the mountain. We did the Acatenango hike, because at the top you have a view of the active volcano Fuego. If you’re lucky you’ll even see an eruption! You don’t want to miss the Acatenango hike when you are in Antigua!
After our two-day excursion, one thing became clear: many of our group members missed important information and were therefore not well prepared. Don’t make these mistakes, read our tips before you start the trip so that you are well prepared.
In this article we tell you how the Acateango hike is, so that you get a clear picture. Which tour operator we advise, what to bring with you and what else you should pay attention to.
Day 1 of the Acatenango hike
You will be picked up in Antigua around 8 to 9 in the morning. In a minivan you will be brought to a village at the foot the mountain where the Acatenango hike starts. At the start you have the option to rent a stick or vest if you don’t have it with you. We recommend to rent a stick but not the vest, because the quality is really bad. At this village the 6 hour hike starts to the base camp. The beginning is the hardest, because you have to climb steeply in a dusty path. You drop back a little at every step. If you are smart you walk all the way in front or if you can’t keep up with the pace you should walk very far behind so that you are not bothered by all the dust. After the dusty path, walk a few steps to the entrance of the Acatenango National Park.
Here you have a short stop and follow your journey to cloud forest. This is a very nice place to hike, because everything is very green and is covered with beautiful moss. Lunch is in the cloud forest. If you keep walking the route in a zigzagging way, you will be out of the forest at some point and you can enjoy the beautiful views. The last part of the first day, which lasts about 1.5 hours, is the easiest. It is very flat. Nature here is completely burnt down, so you can only walk past burned pine trees.
Once you have arrived at the base camp you can rest and enjoy dinner. In clear weather you can enjoy a fantastic sunset with a view of the volcanoes Agua, Fuego and Pacaya. If you are really lucky you can see spray lava from the crater. You probably will not stay outside for very long, because it is very cold on the mountain due to the cold wind. If you are smart, crawl with as few clothes as possible in the sleeping bag so that you get warmth from your clothes when you get up.
Day 2 of the Acatenango hike
The second day you get up very early, at 4:00 in the morning to arrive at the top of the mountain to see the sunrise. Make sure you have a headlamp and good clothes, because it is very cold when you walk upstairs. It is only a 1 hour walk to the top but this is the hardest part, because you eat almost nothing and you have to perform a tough climb. You walk as a train as a group up the edge of the volcano. When you arrive upstairs you will be treated to beautiful weather, unfortunately we were unlucky due to the bad weather, we saw nothing at all. Luckily when we walked back to the base camp it became clearer, so we still had an amazing view. Once you arrive at the base camp it is very easy to walk back to the starting point of day 1 in 2 hours.
Tip: if you are really tired, are afraid of heights or don’t feel well, stay in the tent longer and don’t climb to the top. You still have an amazing view from the base camp. The only difference is that you just haven’t been on top.
Which tour operator is the best for the Acatenango hike
In Antigua there are many possibilities to book a tour for the Acatenango hike. Prices are very different. If you found an agent who offers it for a cheap price (for example € 20 p.p.) you have to ask yourself: “how can someone else be so much more expensive, what do I miss for the lower price”. Usually the groups consist 20 to 30 men with 1 or 2 guides who don’t speak English at all. That is still manageable only the food and the sleeping accommodations are usually very poor. You sleep in dirty tents and receive little food. In addition, some do not include the entrance to the park.
We advise you to pay a little more so that you will not get disappointments and you will experiencing a tour without any problems. We advise Viator, because you can reserve your place in advance and you will get a much more enjoyable experience than with the average tour providers. We recommend to book this tour.
What you need to bring for the Acatenango hike
It is important that you prepare yourself well and that you have everything you need when you start the hike. Important grab you bag as light as possible, only take stuff with you that you need and nothing else.
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|Walking sticks||Toilet paper||t-shirt / sweater|
|Energy bars||Blister plasters||Short/long pants|
|Hiking cab||sunscreen||Thermo clothing|
|Pills for altitude sickness||Windproof jacket||Poncho|
|Water (min 4 liter per person)||Little bit of money|
What else should you pay attention to
If you don’t want to carry hiking sticks with you all the way, you can rent hiking sticks at the bottom of the mountain at the village. The costs are 1.50 euros so take them, without is really not a pleasure. At the bottom of the mountain it is very warm but the higher you get the colder it gets. This makes it important to bring many layers of clothes. It is also important to bring your own food. You are not used to the effort and it demands a lot from your body. If you don’t get enough energy you can get cold and then it is really no longer fun. You do get food from the tour, but in our opinion this is not enough at all. You have to see it this way, you get a snack from them and you have to bring your own meals. Go to the supermarket in advance and buy enough food here. We always buy these energy bars ourselves when we do activities like this.
You can use a porter, which costs about € 20 per day and carries the tent, sleeping bags and water for two people. The choice is personal. We haven’t done it, because we are very fit, but if you are unsure, it is best to choose it.
It is important when you walk in a group that you keep your own speed. One group has more breaks than the other, one group have strong runners, the other doesn’t. Always keep your own pace and don’t compare yourself to another. It is already hard to get to the top.
Finally, you have the height you need to overcome. You start at 1500 meters and end at almost 4000 meters above sea level. It is important that you are well rested in advance and are fully attuned in Antigua. In addition, you should continue to drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration and altitude sickness.
When you have made all our preparations you are ready to start the Acatenango hike. Good luck and enjoy this great excursion!
Where to stay after the Acatenango hike
In the morning you will return from your tour and you have two choices: stay longer in Acatenango or travel straight to Lake Atitlan. This choice is entirely personal. If you are still fit and have already spent enough time in Antigua, we recommend traveling to Lake Atitlan. Read all our tips about Atitlan here. If you are really tired and don’t feel the energy to sit for a long ride in a minivan, you better stay in Antigua. Read the best things to do in Antigua in this article. Below you can read our two favorite addresses to spend the night in Antigua. We went directly to Lake Atitlan, because we didn’t want to lose too much time and you can rest a little on the bus.
Selina Antigua is a hotel with a great atmosphere and ideal for meeting other travelers. The rooms are beautiful with a nice view of volcano Agua. The hotel is beautiful with many facilities including a swimming pool and a pool table. Every morning they make sure that you can enjoy a great breakfast. The location very good because everything is close.
Price per night from:
€ 16 dorm | € 75 double room
Maya Papaya is a must and is rated with a 9.4 on Booking. The rooms here are neat, beds are very nice and for those who spend the night in a bunk bed these are nice and firm. It is a small, cozy, clean and quiet hostel that is highly recommended! In addition, the general area is really cool to relax and get in touch with other travelers.
Price per night from:
€ 14 dorm | € 33 double room