Acatenango hike - everything you need to know
The Acatenango hike – one of my favorite bucketlist experiences in Guatemala.
This hike is something you can´t miss when in Guatemala – check out this detailed blog post with everything you need to know before the hike!
1. General information about volcano Acatenango
Volcano Acatenango is one of the most famous volcanoes in Guatemala, thanks to it´s direct neighbor, volcano Fuego. The summits of the two volanoes are just 1.2 kilometers apart.
It´s a twin-peaked stratovolcano, located near the popular city of Antigua.
When hiking the Acatenango volcano, you can enjoy incredible direct views to volcano Fuego and it´s eruptions. Definitely one of the most impressive things I´ve ever seen.
Volcano Acatenango is 3976 meters (13045 feet) high and considered an active volcano with it´s last eruption in 1972.
The proximity to Antigua makes it a great overnight trip from there.
2. What to expect?
First off: this hike is HARD.
At least for me, not being super physically active apart from some regular hiking. It´s been one of the hardest hikes I have done so far but definitely also one of the most rewarding ones.
The hike starts at about 2200 m and the base camp (where you will spend the night) is located at about 3700 m, that’s a pretty steep incline for a relatively short hike in distance of about 6 km. Be prepared to walk uphill for basically the entire time, the first hour or two and the last bit from basecamp to the summit being the hardest parts.
The hike to basecamp takes between 4-7 hours, depending on pace of your group. The hike from base camp to summit (this is optional) takes another hour.
During the trek, you will walk through many different landscapes. Fields, cloud forests, pine forests and a plain volcanic landscape without much vegetation towards the end of the hike.
Once you get to the top and see the stunning views, it will make up for the hard work – I promise.
Other things to consider
Due to it´s high altitude it is also common to experience symptoms of altitude sickness. Ideally stay a few days in Antigua prior to the hike (which lies at about 1500 m) to acclimatize a bit.
Another thing to consider is that it gets COLD up there! Like really cold…I woke up to a frozen tent in the morning, before climbing to the summit for sunrise.
When my friend told me to buy a winter jacket before the hike, I thought she was exaggerating. But man, was I happy to have 3 layers of clothes as well as a proper jacket when we arrived at base camp and especially when we hiked to the summit in the morning.
Once you enjoyed the incredible sunrise and 360 degree view on top, it is time to head back to basecamp for breakfast and start the descent.
Hike back down
The way down should take no longer than 2-3 hours. To my surprise a lot of people struggled more with going the steep trail back down than up, for me it was quite the opposite!
3. Tour operators, cost etc.
Most tour operators for this hike are located in Antigua.
There are many different options, some of the most popular being Wicho & Charlie´s and OX expeditions.
I personally booked this overnight hike with GetyourGuide and even though, it was a bit more expensive (90 USD) than other options, I really enjoyed the tour and I had a great guide as well as very delicious food.
Cost of the tour
Prices for this tour start at about 60 USD, but most options are around 70 – 100 USD.
The main price differences for tours depend on these factors:
- What kind of food is served and how many meals are included? (from instant noodles to full meals)
- Is water provided?
- Is pick-up at your hotel in Antigua included?
- Does the tour company offer equipment rentals like hiking shoes, walking sticks and winter jackets?
- What size are the groups?
- Where is basecamp located?
- What kind of accommodation is provided? (tent or cabin)
- Is an additional hike to volcano Fuego included?
- Is a porter included? (yes, some tour operators include a person that carries heavy things such as water bottles up the volcano for you!)
Some tour companies offer an additional hike from Acatenango to Fuego volcano when it´s safe to do so (depending on the current volcanic activity). Due to the fact that the views from Acatenango are so great and the hike really exhausting, I did not do the additional hike to volcano Fuego.
Tours mostly include meals (lunch, dinner and breakfast) as well as the tents and sleeping bags. Make sure to check in advance what exactly is included and compare different operators and check google reviews. I can highly recommend the tour I booked with getyourguide – linking the exact tour here.
It includes pick up and drop off at your hotel in Antigua, a local guide, 3 GREAT meals (not like other operators instant noodles), hot drinks as well as tent, sleeping bag and matress at the basecamp with the most amazing views of erupting volcano Fuego.
4. What to bring on the Acatenango hike?
I have already mentioned some essentials above but let´s summarize everything here:
At almost 4000 m it get´s really cold, but during the hike it might also be pretty hot. Bring many layers of clothes and a proper winter jacket. Gloves and a hat won´t hurt either.
SUITABLE SHOES FOR HIKING
While you can do it in regular sneakers as well, hiking shoes with a good grip might be the better option!
Even if 3 proper meals are provided, be sure to bring some additional snacks like granola bars and fruit.
If water is not provided by the tour operator (most don´t), be sure to bring enough water. Personally, I drink a lot on exhausting hikes and finished all 3 liters I brought with me.
Especially for the way down, walking sticks can definitely come in handy. With volcanic rocks and sand and the steep trails it can get really slippery
Even though most parts of the trail are shady, you will, on a clear day, be exposed to sun at times. Especially at high altitude, sun screen is essential.
POWERBANK AND CAMERA
You will want to take many pictures – trust me. If you have one, bring your camera as well as a powerbank for your phone to not run out of battery on this 2-day adventure.
If you want to reach the summit for sunrise (which you should) a headlamp will come in handy. You will start the final ascend around 4 AM and it will be pitch black at that time.
On the way up there is only one “improvised” bathroom where most groups stop for lunch. Other than that, nature is your bathroom and tissues will come in handy.
Now this is not exactly a must-have, but I was SO HAPPY I brought some baby wipes to clean myself a bit after the exhausting 5 hour hike to basecamp.
Ready for this adventurous hike? Even though it´s hard, you will love the experience, I promise!
Make sure to check out other Guatemala blog posts to help plan your perfect trip: