Volcán Acatenango, The Expedition

Volcán Acatenango, The Expedition


As you may already know, last Friday Gian, my father and I accompanied a group of friends on an adventure we'll never forget: hiking and spending the night at the summit of Acatenango Volcano, one of the highest of 22 volcanoes in Guatemala.

Starting our way up kind of late, we were lucky that we could get significantly ahead by car (4x4 of course)- the ride being an adventure all in itself. I admit, there were times we were so steep I feared the car could flip but, we made it to a good height until we had no choice but to leave the cars behind, get our gear, and hike the remainder of the 13,000 feet by the dark.

The hike by foot is tough, no matter how great of a shape you're in. You're so high up from sea level that you can feel your heart beating and the oxygen getting low. And on top of that, you're carrying all of your gear (winter jackets, food, water, sleeping bags, etc.), so it is very tiring. The key is to go at a very comfortable and slow pace, allowing yourself to take a few breaks in between if necessary.

After hiking quite a bit by foot, we were able to set-up camp at approximately 700 feet below the crater at a place that protected us a bit from the strong winds. The night was absolutely beautiful with clear skies and a full moon. Oh, and it was very, very, very cold! (-5 degrees celsius plus windchill). The wind was so strong there were times I thought the tents were going to fly away with us in them! Hahaha...

As you go up the volcano, it's interesting to see how the terrain changes. First, there is a lot of vegetation. Then, the trees start to get very dry, nearly dead. A few hundred feet ahead and trees are no longer found, only some scattered patches of grass. And lastly, when you're nearing the crater, all you see are the sandy ashes from the volcano- which feel like walking on dessert sand, only thicker. The last part is the steepest, and boy...definitely the hardest. When I was making my way up there I swore to God I'd never do this again but, once you are at the very top the view is so spectacular that you can't help but feel completely taken aback by its beauty. From the crater of Acatenango you can see the pacific coast, the border of Mexico, the border of El Salvador, Lake Atitlan, at least 8 other volcanoes (the Fire Volcano literally right next to us, erupting every now and then) and so much more. It's a very real reminder of how small we are.

The next morning we woke up very early, just in time to watch the sunrise and make the rest of the hike up to the crater. Since words cannot describe the feeling you get when you're up there, we took a few pictures to share with you, which I think, can speak for themselves. Enjoy!

I hope you liked it!

Please mind my outfit, it's nearly impossible to climb a volcano in style!

Until next time!