The Thrilling Volcan De Acatenango Hike In Antigua Guatemala

Volcan acatenango hike
If you hike up Volcan de Acatenango in Antigua Guatemala you might get to see views like this

As you journey around Guatemala, you’ll soon hear people talking about the Volcan de Acatenango hike. From the hostels of Antigua to the bars of Flores, just about every traveller has either done it, is planning to do it, or wants to climb Acatenango volcano but isn’t quite brave enough.

There’s a reason this is one of the top things to do in all of Central America. From the slopes of Acatenango you get a front row seat to the eruptions of Volcan de Fuego, one of the world’s most active volcanos. Fuego erupts about every 15-20 minutes, shooting ash and fiery red hot lava into the sky in a rare and thrilling spectacle that is absolutely unmissable.

Volcan acatenango hike
From Acatenango volcano you can see Volcan Fuego erupting

Having heard the stories and seen some jaw-dropping photos, I wanted to hike up Acatenango volcano and witness the power of Volcan de Fuego myself. Not just to see it, but to try to take some amazing volcanic eruption photos of my own.

Of course, I had a lot of questions, and a few concerns. How hard would it be? Which is the best tour company to use? What should I pack? And how on earth do you photograph an erupting volcano at night?

I thought I could manage the climb itself; I’d hiked up Santa Maria volcano in Guatemala only a few weeks previously, so I was pretty sure I had the stamina. But the weather on Acatenango is notoriously unpredictable, and I went in May, which is the start of rainy season. The forecast was iffy and predicted to get worse. What if I lugged my camera gear all that way and couldn’t take a single photo?

Volcan acatenango hike
The hike up to the top of Volcan de Acatenango in Guatemala is quite challenging

I did a lot of research, read a lot of information, and spoke to everyone I met who’d done it. And then I went and climbed Acatenango myself – and as you can see from the photos, it was incredible.

So here is everything I learned about hiking Acatenango and Fuego volcanos, and answers to all the questions I had before I went, and all the questions that other people have asked me since. I hope it helps you plan your own Acatenango tour.

This post should cover everything you need to know about hiking up Acatenango Volcano in Guatemala. I paid for this trip myself in full. Prices are correct at the time of writing.

If you’re just looking for quick tips and information about how to do the Acatenango hike, scroll down to the FAQs or click the relevant heading in the contents list just below.

Volcan acatenango hike
Volcán Acatenango hike pinterest pin

Table of Contents

What is the Acatenango Volcano hike?

The Acatenango Volcano hike is, as the name suggests, a hike you can do to reach the summit of Acatenango, a volcano located close to the city of Antigua in Guatemala.

But somewhat confusingly, the purpose of climbing Acatenango is not really to reach the summit. That’s an added extra that you can choose to do if you like, but it’s not the main reason people go.

Volcan acatenango hike
Volcan acatenango hike
Volcán de Acatenango on the left, and Volcán de Fuego on the right

Instead, the main attraction is Volcan de Fuego, which sits right next door to Acatenango and is one the most active volcanos in the world. From your campsite high on the slopes of Acatenango, you get a front-row seat to Fuego’s regular eruptions and, if conditions are right, the chance to witness the awesome power of an erupting volcano as it shoots lava bombs and ash into the sky.

There are very few places in the world where you can safely – and somewhat reliably – watch an erupting volcano, so it’s no surprise that hiking Volcan de Acatenango is one of Guatemala’s top tourist attractions.

Volcan acatenango hike
Fuego’ means ‘fire’ in Spanish, so you can see how Fuego volcano gets its name

Where is Volcan de Acatenango?

Volcan de Acatenango is about 12 miles (20 km) from the city of Antigua, Guatemala. It’s one of 37 volcanos in the country, and the most popular due to its proximity to Volcan de Fuego and the large number of tour companies offering the chance to climb it and camp at the top.

Volcan acatenango hike
Volcán de Acatenango is Guatemala’s most popular volcano to climb

What does the Volcán Acatenango climb involve?

The Acatenango volcano hike has four stages:

  • Stage One: The first challenge is to hike for about four hours up to base camp, where you’ll spend the night. It’s from here that you can get a clear view of Volcan de Fuego erupting directly across the valley in front of you. If you don’t want to walk any further, you can just spend the evening watching the incredible eruptions exploding into the night sky, and head back down again the next morning.
  • Stage Two: Those with a bit more energy can opt to do the Fuego add-on, which involves another two hours of hiking down the other side of Acatenango and up Fuego itself, to a viewing spot only about 500 meters from the active crater. This will get you much closer to the eruptions, but you’ll need a fair bit of stamina as you’ll also need to hike another two hours back to base camp, this time in the dark.
Volcan acatenango hike
The hike from Acatenango volcano to Fuego volcano takes about two hours each way
  • Stage Three: This is the chance to summit Acatenango itself and view the sunrise from the top. This involves waking up at about 4 am and hiking another hour up to the top of Acatenango, and then half an hour back down to base camp.
  • Stage Four: Your final descent, another two to three hours back down the way you came to the trailhead, before getting a bus back to Antigua.

The Fuego ascent and the Acatenango summit are optional extras, and you don’t need to decide if you want to do them until you are already at base camp.

Volcan acatenango hike
Sunrise over Volcan de Agua as seen from Acatenango base camp

The Volcano Acatenango hike in numbers

  • Elevation at summit: 3,976 m (13,045 ft)
  • Elevation gain: 1,600 m (5,253 ft)
  • Type of hike: There and back on same path
  • Total distance covered: 4.3 miles (7 km) to base camp; 1.2 miles (2 km) from base camp to the Fuego viewpoint; 0.6 miles (1 km) from base camp to the summit of Acatenango. If you do all of it, the total both ways is about 12.5 miles (20 km).
  • Difficulty Rating: Difficult
  • Cost: Tour cost varies but is about Q500-700 (USD 65-90); plus you have to pay park entry of Q50 (USD 6.50) and you may need to pay to hire a few extra bits of gear.
Volcan acatenango hike
Map showing the Acatenango route

Acatenango tour companies

The first thing you’ll need to do to plan your hike up Acatenango is pick a tour company. Most hotels and hostels, plus numerous travel agencies in Antigua, offer trips to hike Acatenango, but if you book through one of them you won’t necessarily know which company you are going with or the levels of service you’ll be getting.

For that reason, I recommend you choose one of the following dedicated hiking tour companies, all of whom get good reviews and have several years of experience.

  • Wicho and Charlies. One of the most popular companies due to the fact they have sleeping cabins instead of tents. They’re also reported to have the best gear, though I couldn’t compare or check this.
  • Ox Expeditions. Another highly recommended company, they also have cabins, and for those who don’t like going to the loo al fresco they have basic toilets too. From the photos I’ve seen their campsite looks to be a bit lower down the mountain with more trees in front, but I haven’t been there so I can’t be 100% sure of this.
  • Tropicana. Based out of the hostel of the same name. They have large, fixed cabin-type tents to sleep in, each of which sleeps 15.
  • V Hiking. Budget option and I’ve heard mixed reports, but two people I met who hiked with them said they had a good experience.
  • Old Town Outfitters.
  • CA travellers.
Volcan acatenango hike
Wicho and Charlies are one of the main companies offering overnight hikes to Acatenango and Fuego

Preparing for the Acatenango and Fuego hike

Based on the positive reviews I’d read, and particularly tempted by the sound of the cosy huts, I booked with Wicho and Charlies. I was told to be at their office at 7 am, ready to meet the group and sort out gear and food.

I was wearing gym leggings, a sports bra, a t-shirt, and a pair of trail-running trainers. I was also carrying a change of clothes, one thermal baselayer top, and my packable light down jacket. This is nowhere near enough warm clothing for the top of the volcano, but it’s all I had.

Volcan acatenango hike
The Acatenango tour companies will rent or lend you warm clothes for hiking up the volcano

At the shop we were issued with additional gear. The price for the hike included the loan of one or more jackets/fleeces, gloves, warm hat, buff, and scarf. You could also rent hiking poles (absolutely vital!), headlamp, socks, backpacks, and other bits of gear if needed.

I had heard that Wicho and Charlies had the best selection of clothes, but I have to say I was not that impressed and if theirs is the best then I dread to think what the other companies offer. Most of the gear, while just about adequate, was old and tatty, and a lot of the jackets were very small, and many had zips that didn’t work properly. It was a bit of a free-for-all trying to get the semi-decent stuff or find something that fitted, but we did manage and eventually everyone had enough.

I took an additional fleece and a padded jacket, plus hat, gloves and scarf, and I was still cold!

So my advice is that if you’re concerned about gear, make sure you get there early to get first pick, and take more than you think you’ll need!

Volcan acatenango hike
Our pre-departure briefing before leaving to hike up Acatenango volcano

Booking a porter

Unlike multi-day hikes like climbing Kilimanjaro or Everest Bast Camp, you don’t automatically get a porter to help carry your stuff. That’s because Acatenango is a relatively short trip, and the camps are permanent so no one needs to carry tents or cooking equipment.

That said, it’s a very steep climb and your pack will be pretty heavy with clothes, food and water, so you can opt to pay a porter to help you. Porters cost between Q150-200 (about £15-20) depending on the weight of your pack, one way. Most people carry their own bag on the descent as it will be lighter once you’ve drunk all your water.

Since I was carrying heavy camera gear, I opted for a porter both ways, and I’m very glad I did!

Volcan acatenango hike
Hugo was my Acatenango porter

Food and drink for hiking Acatenango

Wicho and Charlies provided us with breakfast, lunch and dinner on the first day, and breakfast on the second morning.

The first breakfast was at their shop while we collected and packed our gear, and consisted of bread rolls with jam or Nutella, bananas, and tea or coffee.

There was also a snack bar at the shop where you could help yourself to a paper bag full of nuts, mini pretzels raisins, and small chocolate chips.

Volcan acatenango hike
It’s a good idea to take snacks to supplement your meals and give you energy for the hike

Lunch was vegetarian ‘meatballs’ with mashed potato – we were given a portion each in a Tupperware to carry up and ate it about halfway through the first ascent. Dinner of vegetarian chilli and rice was cooked for us at base camp and was hot and delicious, and breakfast the next morning was veggie breakfast burritos.

All the food was tasty and portion sizes were decent but if you’re a hungry person I’d suggest you also bring some additional snacks.

Volcan acatenango hike
My lunch of veggie ‘meatballs’ and mash

Water on the Acatenango hike

We were also issued with water bottles which we could fill from filtered water taps in the shop. There is nowhere to get water, so you have to carry as much as you’ll need, plus an additional litre to give to the cooks who are making dinner and breakfast.

Experts recommend taking 4 litres per person. The bottles we were given were 1.5 litres each, so I took three, meaning I had 4.5 litres. At the end of the trip I had a small amount left, so I’d say 4-4.5 litres is perfect.

Volcan acatenango hike
Your pack will end up quite heavy with clothes, food and water

Ascent to base camp

Once we’d sorted out our gear and picked up our food and water, it was time to depart. Our group of 30 hikers was bussed to the start of the trailhead, about 50 minutes’ drive from Antigua.

There we had a short briefing before starting the climb at around 10.30 am.

The ascent to base camp on Acatenango is in three stages. The first stage follows a dusty path uphill through farmland. This is said to be the toughest part of the climb, steeply uphill with no shade, passing through lush green fields of maize and beans fringed with coffee trees, all the time with the peak of Acatenango clearly visible ahead of you.

Volcan acatenango hike
The first part of the Acatenango hike takes you through farmland

In some places there are steps and handrails to help you up the steeper or more slippery bits.

Along the way you pass a couple of homesteads, including one where the enterprising owners have set up a business offering drinks and snacks to buy. They’ll also charge you Q20 (about 20p) to wash your hands or Q50 (50p) to use the toilet.

After about an hour you arrive at the park entrance. Here you’ll need to sign in and pay the Q50 (USD 6.50) park entry fee.

Volcan acatenango hike
You’ll get amazing views of the landscape as you climb Acatenango

Once inside the park the terrain changes: it’s still steeply uphill but you leave the farmland behind and enter the forest. The path is a bit less slippery and there are more branches to grab onto; and it’s shady and cooler now you are a bit higher up.

After about another hour you’ll stop at a resting place to eat lunch. Here there’s a chance to buy more snacks and drinks, though you’ll pay through the nose for the privilege!

Volcan acatenango hike
The next stage of the Acatenango trek takes you through dense forest

The final leg of the ascent to base camp takes about another hour and is the easiest part of the climb. Although you are still going uphill it is much less steep and in some places completely flat. And you’ll have amazing views to enjoy as you walk – or at least you will if it hasn’t clouded over!  

Sadly for us, as we neared the top the clouds rolled in and we lost all our views. The ghostly trees disappearing in to the fog were very atmospheric though!

Volcan acatenango hike
The clouds roll in as we get higher up Volcan Acatenango

Finally, after about 4 hours, you’ll arrive at your base camp. Here you’ll get a chance to relax and enjoy the views before deciding if you want to take on the additional challenge of the hike up to Fuego.

I say enjoy the views – but there is always the chance that you might get up there and find you can’t see anything at all. There’s a large erupting volcano in the back of this shot – but when we arrived at base camp we couldn’t see a thing.

Volcan acatenango hike
Fuego volcano is behind me, but we couldn’t see it!

What is the Acatenango base camp like?

The exact design of your base camp will depend on which company you hike Acatenango with, but all the decent companies have very similar camps that feature fixed shared tents or cabins with direct views across to Volcan Fuego.

Wicho and Charlies have fixed huts – solid wooden structures with room for 8 people sleeping on foam mats on the floor. The mats were thick and comfortable, and sleeping bags, pillows and extra blankets were provided. They also have smaller 2-person cabins which cost a bit more.

Volcan acatenango hike
The cabins at our base camp on Acatenango volcano

In addition, there was a dining tent where the team prepared our meals and where we could sit inside to eat.

Other Acatenango hike tour companies have tents rather than cabins and the service levels will vary, so do check with your preferred operator to see what they supply.

Volcan acatenango hike
Our cabin slept eight and we had thick mats with sleeping bags, pillows and blankets

All the companies I’ve mentioned above have their own private base camp area located on the south side of Volcan Acatenango facing towards Volcan de Fuego. This means that you will get clear views and you won’t be jostling for position with people from other tour groups. I’ve heard some of the companies have their tents lined up so you can watch the volcano erupting without even getting out of your tent!

Read more  The Best Hiking in Vermont Along Route 100

If you decide to go with an independent guide or a different company, make sure you check the location of the base camp. Otherwise you could find yourself on the wrong side of the mountain!

Volcan acatenango hike
Once the clouds cleared we had excellent views across to Volcan Fuego from base camp

The hike up to Volcan Fuego

After relaxing in the base camp for a while, you’ll be offered the chance to do the second part of the hike, up to Volcan Fuego. This costs an extra Q200 (£20 / $25) which you will pay on your return to the office.

The Volcán de Fuego ascent involves hiking for an hour back down the other side of Acatenango, then one hour hiking up to the viewing point on the side of Fuego, another hour to sit and hopefully watch the eruptions, and then two more hours of hiking back down the side of Fuego and back up Acatenango to base camp.

Volcan acatenango hike
Hiking back down to Fuego. Our destination is about here on this ridge, not far from the crater.

So another four hours of hiking, half of which you will do with head torches in the dark. It’s not for the faint-hearted or the dodgy-kneed!

All being well you should leave around 4.30 pm and be back at base camp for a late dinner around 9 pm.

Unfortunately, on the day I went there was a lot of cloud and we couldn’t see a thing. It’s not safe to go (and also completely pointless) if the visibility is zero, so we had to wait to see if it would clear.

Volcan acatenango hike
The sky begins to clear and we can finally see Fuego volcano

Luckily, it did. An hour later than scheduled, it finally looked like we would be able to hike up Fuego and get just a few hundred metres from the incredible eruptions, so most of our group decided to give it a go.

For me, the chance to photograph an erupting volcano close up was unmissable and worth the pain, so while most people left all their gear in base camp, I grabbed my camera and tripod and off we went.

The downhill was a bit slippery (this is where hiking poles are a godsend) and we were treated to a dramatic and misty sunset as we reached the bottom.

Volcan acatenango hike
Sunset looking back towards Volcan de Acatenango Guatemala

But frustratingly, as we began our ascent of Fuego and it started to get dark, the clouds rolled back in.

We did the final 30 minutes of the ascent up Fuego in the dark and almost zero visibility, with gusty winds that threw dust in our eyes and threatened to blow us off the side of the volcano.

Volcan acatenango hike
Hiking up the side of Fuego volcano with head torches as it gets dark

And the final walk across the narrow ridge to the viewpoint, with nothing to see but the ghostly figure of the person in front disappearing into the mist and a sheer drop on either side, was positively terrifying.

Volcan acatenango hike
Almost zero visibility as we cross the ridge to the viewpoint

But at that point you have no choice but to get your game face on and carry on. We all settled in a group on the edge of the volcano, slightly down the slope to shelter from the worst of the wind and the dust, facing towards where we were told the erupting crater of Fuego was. But we couldn’t see a damn thing.

Volcan acatenango hike
Waiting in the dark and fog on the side of Volcan Fuego, hoping for a miracle

Gamely, having carried it all that way, I set up my gear in the hope that the wind would blow the clouds away and we’d get lucky with an eruption, but mostly all I got was sandblasted with dust, so I covered my camera and eventually gave up and put it away.

Volcan acatenango hike
I set up my tripod but had to cover my camera to protect it from the dust

Very occasionally the cloud parted briefly so we could see the crater just for a few seconds, but Fuego stayed quiet.  

And so, after about half an hour, cold, tired, hungry, extremely disappointed and very aware that we had another two hours of hiking to go before we could rest and get dinner, we turned round and went back down the way we had come.

Volcan acatenango hike
We got the very briefest glimpse of Fuego’s crater as the clouds parted, but that was all

Heading back to base camp

The hike back to base camp was probably the most challenging part for me. It was an hour back on a slippery path, in the foggy cloud and dark, down into the valley between Fuego and Acatenango, and then more than another hour back up the steep side of Acatenango to camp.

On top of the cold and dark and tired legs, by this stage it was nearly 10 pm and we hadn’t had dinner.

Volcan acatenango hike
Hiking back down the side of Volcán de Fuego in the cold and dark

And to make matters worse (for me at least), as we hiked back up, with our backs to Fuego, the skies cleared, and the volcano let off two big eruptions. Which we almost completely missed, and I certainly couldn’t photograph!

After hiking all that way to photograph the volcano and missing it, I found this the most stressful part. I couldn’t wait to get back up to base camp, get some hot food in me as fast as possible, and then start taking pictures!

Which eventually I was able to do at about 10.30 pm.

Volcan acatenango hike
Fuego let off a huge eruption as we were hiking back, but this phone snap is the only image I got

Acatenango volcano photography

And so it was that after a wasted four hours and several missed photography opportunities, I was finally able to set up my camera and tripod back at base camp and start trying to take eruption photos.

Which was a very different but equally painful challenge for three main reasons.

Firstly, trying to get accurate focus on a dark volcano in a dark sky is next to impossible.

Secondly you have no idea when Fuego is going to erupt, and when it does, you only have a few seconds to get the photo before it stops again.

Volcan acatenango hike
Volcan acatenango hike
My photography setup for capturing photos of Fuego volcano erupting

And thirdly because it’s freezing! I was wearing all my clothes and wrapped in a blanket, standing as close to the camp fire as possible, but I was still ridiculously cold. And I couldn’t press buttons while wearing gloves, so of course I took them off, and then it wasn’t long before my fingers went numb.

But as you can see, it was worth it in the end…

Volcan acatenango hike
Volcan acatenango hike
Volcan acatenango hike
Volcan acatenango hike
Some of my favourite images of Volcán de Fuego erupting

I stayed up until about midnight, after everyone else had gone to bed, but then it began to cloud over, so I went to bed because I wanted to get up again for sunrise at 3.45 am. In the night there were two eruptions that were so loud they woke everyone up, so I kind of regret not just staying up all night!

The FOMO is real…

Volcan acatenango hike
Volcano photography is surprisingly hard but I don’t think I did too badly for my first attempt!

If you want to find out more about how I took these images, look out for my volcano photography post, coming soon (or subscribe here to get an email when new posts are published).

The Acatenango summit

After you’ve climbed up to base camp and watched Fuego erupting (from near or far, depending on your preference), it’ll be time to cosy up with your hiking mates in your cabin or tent and get some sleep.

Volcan acatenango hike
Our cosy cabin slept eight people

You’ll need it, because you’ll be woken at about 4 am for the final challenge, climbing to the summit of Acatenango volcano.

This will take about 60-80 minutes in the dark with head torches. Then you get about an hour at the top to wait for sunrise and take photos before a quick descent of about 30-45 minutes back to base camp for breakfast.

Volcan acatenango hike
From base camp you can see both Volcan de Agua and Volcan de Fuego

The descent is quick because the ground is very soft ash that’s bouncy rather than slippery, meaning you can bounce your way down rather than having to be careful not to fall.

You don’t have climb up to the Acatenango summit, of course. You can stay in bed, have a bit of a lie in, and just get up for breakfast at about 7.30.

Volcan acatenango hike
The first rays of dawn appear behind Volcan de Agua in Guatemala

Or you can do what I did, which is get up at the same time as everyone else, but stay behind to photograph more eruptions in the dawn light and watch the sunrise from base camp.

I decided to – which was also a stunning way to spend the morning.

Volcan acatenango hike

Either way, if you’re lucky you should still get wonderful views as the sun rises behind Volcan de Agua and casts a golden glow onto Fuego.

About half my group did the Acatenango summit and said that while it was tough to hike up in the dark, it was worth it.

Volcan acatenango hike
Volcan acatenango hike
Sunrise over Volcán de Agua, as seen from Acatenango base camp

It’s something I regret not doing, so I think if you have the legs for it, you should go! After all, when will you next get the opportunity to watch sunrise from the top of a volcano?

(Answer, soon actually, if you go to Xela and climb Volcán Santa María, like I did!)

Volcan acatenango hike
The sunrise lights up Volcan de Fuego in gorgeous morning colours

The descent of Volcán de Acatenango

After taking photos at the summit you’ll return to base camp at around 6.30 – 7 am for a quick breakfast and to pack up, before staring your descent at about 7.30 am.

It took me about 3 hours to get back down. The route is the same one as you hiked up the previous day, except it’s easier now because you’ll have drunk most of your water and eaten all your food, so your bag will be much lighter.

Volcan acatenango hike
Watching the sunrise by the campfire as we wait for the rest of the group to get back

However, your legs will be tired, and the path is still sleep and quite slippery, so you’ll need to be careful and take your time. Almost everyone in my group slipped over on the loose dusty path at least once or twice, and some people injured themselves.

On shaky legs this was one of the least fun parts of the hike and I was very grateful for my hiking pole to help provide some stability!

Volcan acatenango hike
The Acatenango descent is steep and slippery. At least one hiking pole is a must!

Volcan Acatenango: is it worth it?

So after all that: the hike, the sore legs, the cold, the disappointing visibility, was it worth it? Would I recommend it?

Answer: absolutely. I might be a bit obsessed with volcanos, but to me there are few experiences more incredible on this planet than seeing the power and beauty of an erupting volcano, and even with the expense and the challenges I think it was absolutely worth it.

I’m even thinking of having another go before I leave Guatemala!

But if you’re not sure of your fitness or stamina and you don’t think you can manage it all, I’d recommend skipping the Fuego ascent and saving your legs for the Acatenango sunrise summit instead.

Volcan acatenango hike
It was worth the cold and the effort to witness this magnificent erupting volcano

Acatenango Volcano at a glance

  • Elevation: 3,976 m (13,045 ft)
  • Base camp elevation: 3,600 m (11,811 ft)
  • Rank: Acatenango is the third highest volcano in Central America (after Tajumulco in Guatemala and Tacaná in Mexico)
  • Location: 16 km (10 miles) southwest of Antigua Guatemala
  • Type of volcano: Stratovolcano
  • Last eruption: December 1972
  • Time to summit: 5-6 hours
Volcan acatenango hike
Volcan de Acatenango is the third highest volcano in Central America

Volcan de Fuego facts

  • Elevation: 3,763 m (12,346 ft)
  • Location: 18 km (11 miles) southwest of Antigua Guatemala
  • Type of volcano: stratovolcano
  • Last eruption: 23 September 2021 (ongoing in 2022).
  • Timing of eruptions: Can be as often as every 10-20 minutes.
  • Most notable eruption: 3 June 2018, resulted in at least 159 deaths, at least 300 injuries and 256 missing persons
  • Maya name: ChiQ’aq’ (Kaqchikel for ‘where the fire is’) 
Volcan acatenango hike
Fuego volcano erupts frequently, sometimes every 10-20 minutes

The Acatenango hike itinerary

All the Acatenango hike tour companies offer pretty much the same itinerary (timings may vary slightly depending on the tour company and time of year):

Day 1

  • 07.00 Pickup from your hostel or meet your group. Check in, organise gear and food, and book your porter if required.
  • 09.00 Bus to the start of the hike (about a 50-minute journey). Meet your porter if you’ve requested one.
  • 10.30 Begin the hike up to base camp. With a reasonable level of fitness, you can do this in four hours including breaks.
  • 14.30 Arrive at base camp at 3600 m. Time to rest and recover.
  • 16.30 If the weather is good, depart for Fuego. It takes about an hour to go down the other side of Acatenango and another hour up the Fuego viewpoint. You’ll get an hour here to watch the sunset and eruptions before returning to base camp the way you came (total time, 4 – 4.5 hours; the return journey is in the dark so make sure you bring a head torch).
  • 20.30 Dinner and time to watch the volcano before going to bed in your tent or cabin.
Volcan acatenango hike
Our group having a short rest during the ascent up Acatenango

Day 2

  • 03.45 Time to get up!
  • 04.00 Depart for Acatenango summit (about 1.5 hours)
  • 05.30 Arrive at the summit of Acatenango and watch the sunrise
  • 06.30 Back to base camp (about 30 minutes)
  • 07.00 Breakfast at base camp
  • 07.30 Start your descent (roughly 3 hours)
  • 10.30 Arrival back at the trailhead for the bus back to Antigua
  • 11.30 Return to Antigua
Volcan acatenango hike
The descent of Acatenango takes about 2-3 hours depending on how shaky your legs are
Volcan acatenango hike
Volcan de Acatenango is a short drive from the city of Antigua Guatemala
Volcan acatenango hike
Volcan acatenango hike
You’ll see lots of interesting plants on your Acatenango trip
Volcan acatenango hike
The first leg of the Acatenango hike is said to be the hardest as it’s quite steep and slippery
Volcan acatenango hike
The top of Fuego is at 3,763 m (12,346 ft) and Acatenango base camp is a little lower, at about 3,600 m
Volcan acatenango hike
Volcan de Fuego erupts frequently, and you can watch it from base camp
Volcan acatenango hike
I strongly recommend hiking Acatenango volcano with a tour group
Volcan acatenango hike
We had to hike to the Fuego viewpoint in the dark fog with zero visibility

When is the best time to hike Acatenango volcano Guatemala?

Guatemala has two seasons, wet and dry. The rainy season is between May and October, and the dry season is November to April. To maximise your chances of clear skies and the best views, try to do the Acatenango hike during this period.

I did it in mid-May and although it didn’t rain, it was very overcast for much of the time. However, other people I met who did it in late May had clear skies and incredible views, so you might get good weather at any time of year.

Volcan acatenango hike
The weather on Acatenango can change from sunny to foggy in moments

What to pack for the Acatenango and Fuego hike

The main things you need to bring for Acatenango are sports clothes for hiking in, a second change of clothes, waterproof, warm jacket, hat and gloves for the top, and sturdy trainers or hiking boots.

Here’s everything I wore and packed to climb Acatenango:


  • Hiking clothes: I wore gym leggings, sports t-shirt, sports bra, and a baseball cap to keep the sun off. You’ll get warm hiking up, so you don’t need to wear much.
  • Decent trainers (or hiking shoes) and hiking socks.
  • A change of clothes to sleep in or in case you get rained on (I had a second pair of loose jersey trousers that I put on over my leggings to keep warm, and another t-shirt), and I brought thick socks to keep my feet warm at night).
  • A change of underwear. This may be TMI for the men reading this, but for the ladies, I highly recommend wearing period knickers for hikes like this. They’re great for absorbing sweat and for when you have to pee on the side of the mountain with no toilet paper!
  • Thermal base layer – I put this on under my t-shirt when we arrived at the top.
  • Warm mid-layer. I had my Patagonia nano puff jacket, and I also borrowed a light fleece from the company.
  • Waterproof jacket – this also helps with the wind chill.
  • Warm coat. I borrowed a thick puffy jacket from the company. It wasn’t especially technical, but it was very necessary!
  • Warm hat, gloves, scarf, buff (to keep the dust out of your face). All of these were included in the package from the company I hiked with.
Volcan acatenango hike
In this photo I’m wearing leggings under my trousers and three base layers under my coat


  • Water – at least four litres
  • Camera
  • Head torch
  • 50-60L backpack
  • Hiking poles
  • Toiletries – keep it minimal, you won’t need much. I just took a toothbrush and toothpaste, moisturiser, hand cream and lip balm (it gets very dry and dusty)
  • Sun cream – even if it’s cloudy, you can still get burned at high elevations.
  • Wet wipes, deodorant
  • Toilet paper
  • Snacks
  • Small bag to collect and take away your rubbish

Note that when you’re packing in the shop you can leave stuff you don’t need there; most places have lockers but you may need to bring your own padlock.

Volcan acatenango hike
A couple of my hiking mates wrapped up in blankets against the cold

Things to do in Antigua after climbing Volcan Acatenango

Antigua is one of the highlights of any trip to Guatemala, and there are loads of things to see and do around this gorgeous colonial city. I’ll be writing a post all about the top things to do in Antigua soon, so watch this space, or subscribe for updates if you want to read that!

Where to stay in Antigua before and after climbing Volcan Acatenango

There are loads of places to stay in Antigua to suit all tastes and budgets, but here are three personally-tested recommendations.

Budget – Yellow House Hostel

This is where I stayed before and after the hike. Yellow House is a friendly hostel in a convenient location, with a lovely shady rooftop terrace where it’s nice to relax and chat to other guests. Private rooms are small and have shared bathrooms but they are clean and very affordable. Breakfast is included.

Volcan acatenango hike
My room at Yellow House Antigua Guatemala

Midrange – Ojalá Hotel

This is where my friend stayed, so I visited but did not stay here. There are dorms if you are on a budget, but also private rooms that are a bit more expensive than at Yellow House. Ojalá also has a café and a private courtyard to chill out in.

Luxury – Villa Bokeh

What better way to recover from your challenging volcano hike than with a couple of nights of sheer luxury at one of Guatemala’s top boutique hotels, located in six acres of beautiful gardens just outside Antigua?

Volcan acatenango hike
My room at Villa Bokeh Guatemala

Watch the video!

I made a short reel about my Acatenango hike experience, which you can watch here.

And that’s it! If you’ve read all this way, congratulations! If you’re planning to do the hike and have questions, feel free to contact me – and good luck!

And if you’ve done it and have corrections or additions to this post, please let me know.

Volcan acatenango hike
Happy to have completed the Acatenango volcano hike

Read more

If you enjoyed this post about hiking Acatenango volcano, why not read some of my other hiking and volcano posts?

  • Hiking Mount Nyiragongo: The World’s Largest Volcano Lava Lake
  • A Sunrise Hike Up Volcan Santa Maria In Xela, Guatemala
  • Glamping And Hiking In The Beautiful Knuckles Mountain Range, Sri Lanka
  • Ol Doinyo Lengai Tanzania – Climb the Terrifying Mountain of God

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— Update: 08-03-2023 — found an additional article Volcan Acatenango Hike: What to Know + Insider Tips from the website for the keyword volcan acatenango hike.

Watching Volcan Fuego erupt is one of the highlights of any Central America trip. Hikers will make their way to the base of Guatemala’s most famous volcano and will climb the adjacent (and dormant!) Volcan Acatenango for an unforgettable overnight experience. This article includes everything you need to know to plan your trek, including insider tips we wish we would’ve known before our own journey.

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Did you know that Guatemala is a country with 37 named volcanoes? And three of them —Pacaya, Fuego, and Santiaguito— are still active, attracting visitors from near and far to witness their power and beauty up close.

One of the best (and most popular) ways to do so is hiking Volcan Acatenango, the stratovolcano adjacent to Volcan Fuego, which is predictably active. 

And when we say predictably, we mean it — Volcan Fuego erupts every 15 to 20 minutes! Yep, you read that right! This means travelers that are up for the adventure can pretty much be guaranteed to see this volcano erupt several times (barring incredibly cloudy weather). 

We’d heard for years that watching Volcan Fuego erupt was one of the top things to do in all of Central America, and we were not disappointed. Hiking Volcan Acatenango was one of our favorite things we did in Guatemala and was a highlight of our 3-month Central America trip.

So how does it work?

We were a bit confused at first as to how to witness this volcanic eruption. Plus, we didn’t understand why people kept talking about Volcan Acatenango… wasn’t it Volcan Fuego that erupts? And also, how would we know we’d be safe? Don’t worry — we’ll explain…

Here’s the skinny:

  • Volcan Fuego erupts very frequently and consistently.

  • In order to view these eruptions, you will hike up the adjacent volcano, Acatenango.

  • Acatenango is dormant, and the last eruption was in 1972.

  • You can hike as a day trip, but the best and most popular way to view Fuego’s famous eruptions is to stay overnight.

  • There are many tour companies that offer overnight treks to spend the night in their “base camp” on Acatenango where you’ll have incredible views of lava-spewing Fuego all night long.


  • Acatenango hike at a glance

  • Best tour companies for the hike

  • What to expect on the hike

  • Trek itinerary

  • What to wear for the hike

  • What to pack for the hike

  • Tips for hiking Acatenango

  • How much does it cost?

Volcan Acatengango hike at a glace

  • Elevation at summit: 13,044 feet (3,976 meters)

  • Elevation gain: 5,253 feet (1,600 meters)

  • Type of hike: Out and back

  • Distance covered: 8.6 miles (13.8 km) + an optional hike to Volcan Fuego (explained later)

  • Difficulty Rating: Difficult

  • Cost: There is a park entrance fee of Q110, plus the cost of your tour

  • Crime: Since they started charging an entrance fee, crime on Acatenango has gone down and it is now considered a safe hike.

  • Current Status of Volcan Acatenango: Dormant

  • Highlights: Volcan Acatenango is known for its above-the-cloud views and proximity to Volcan Fuego, one of the most active volcanoes in Guatemala.

  • Time needed: While it is possible to do this difficult trek in one day, it is recommended to do an overnight trek. You won’t want to miss the nighttime views of Volcan Fuego spewing lava (it’s most active at night!) or the sunrise views from Acatenango’s summit. 

Best time to hike Volcan Acatenango

The ideal time would be to plan your hike to fall within Guatemala’s dry season, November – April. That gives the best chance at optimal weather, although the conditions are still not guaranteed and you never know what kind of weather you’ll run into when you reach the summit.

Is this hike safe?

Yes. Most of the time.

Volcan Fuego is just about 3 km (1.8 miles) from Acatenango, so theoretically, you are pretty far away from the eruptions when you’re at base camp. (There is an option to actually hike to Volcan Fuego, in which case you’ll be closer.)

For the vast majority of hikers, there are no issues or threats of danger as the regular eruptions are very small. However, volcanoes by nature are unpredictable.

A few weeks after our own Acatenango hike, there was a massive eruption (on June 3, 2018) that killed at least 69 people, most of whom were locals living in the village just below the volcano. A few weeks later, we met a traveler who had been hiking Acatenango on that day. He said that everyone had to run down the mountain as ash filled the sky. He ended up staying in the area for a couple of weeks to help with the clean-up of this tragic natural disaster.

We don’t bring this up to scare you because you are far more likely to have an incredible time and encounter no issues at all. However, any volcano hike does come with some inherent risk.

Best tour companies for hiking Volcan Acatenango

In Antigua, you won’t have to walk far to see signs for this hike. Oftentimes your hostel or hotel will offer to make tour arrangements for you.

Much of the time this means they will place you in a tour group that has open spaces. This is what happened to us, and we would not recommend this.

We had no idea what company we were going with and therefore didn’t have control over the quality of service. The experience was still incredible — I mean, witnessing a volcano erupt all night long is something out of a dream — but there was a lot of room for improvement in the tour company itself.

For one, our guides didn’t give us much of any information on anything — not on the schedule, the volcano, nothing! Additionally, the food was pretty meager and the company didn’t have enough sleeping gear. We were assigned tents but were squished in there like sardines and not everyone had sleeping bags. Luckily, we spent most of the night watching the eruptions, but it felt like this particular company just tried to take as many people as they could without really having the proper equipment.

So, learn from our mistake and actually choose the company you want to go with instead of having your guesthouse arrange it for you.

Two Tour Company Recommendations

In theory, the tour operators provide most of the same things: sleeping gear, guides, and food. The quality of these things will vary quite a bit, as we’ve already described.

If you’re looking for recommendations, we’ve got two:

OX Expeditions

We have heard consistently good things about OX Expeditions. They’ve been in operation since 2004 and are widely known as Guatemala’s top guiding service.

They also have some impressive environmental initiatives, and some of their profits support community projects that educate local children. They have some pretty cool programs where they teach them English, eco practices, as well as guiding skills to open up opportunities for them in the future.

Wicho & Charlie’s

Our Editor, Amanda, was in Guatemala in March 2021 and did this trek with Wicho & Charlie’s and had a very good experience. One of the main benefits of going with this company is they are the only company that has sleeping huts instead of tents at basecamp. (You can compare our tent photo with Amanda’s much more luxurious hut photo!)

When we heard this, we asked her:

“Wait, you mean you weren’t squished like sardines into a tent, fighting over sleeping bags? Tell me more…”

So we’ll let Amanda take over from here and give us a front-row seat to her experience hiking Acatenango!

For starters, we were still squished like sardines, just in a slightly more comfortable and arranged sleeping situation inside huts.

Wicho & Charlie’s has a number of different huts, the largest huts have room for 8 people and there are a couple smaller huts for just 2 people (you can splurge for the private hut for two if you prefer). The beds are adequate, but calling them “comfortable” might be a stretch, depending on your definition of comfort.

They are more or less just sleeping cushions arranged on the wooden floor of the hut. Each person gets a sleeping bag and 2 large wool blankets. However, there are no pillows, so you may wind up using your pack or one of your blankets as a pillow.

The real benefit of the huts is not having to set them up or take them down like you would a tent. And they add a layer of protection if in the unlikely event the neighboring Volcan Fuego has an uncharacteristically large eruption and spews debris as far as base camp, the huts would be safe and keep you protected.

Other than that, I chose to go with Wicho & Charlie’s because the company came highly recommended by fellow travelers and offered everything we needed to make our Acatenango hike as smooth as possible.

The guides were knowledgable and spoke great English, the food – albeit simple – was good and kept us plenty full, and they had everything we needed available to rent directly from their shop including water bottles, warm clothing, hiking poles and porters.

Acatenango hike: What to expect

The Volcan Acatenango hike is a challenging 3,976m (just over 13,000 feet!) hike, but can be achieved by someone with an average level of fitness and the will for adventure!

There are a few portions of the hike we’re going to go over:

  • Hike to Base Camp

  • Hike to Volcan Fuego for sunset (optional)

  • Hike to Acatenango summit for sunrise (optional)

Hike to Acatenango Base Camp

The hike up to basecamp will take anywhere from about 3.5 to 6.5 hours depending on your pace. Depending on the weather, most of the hike should have fairly mild temperatures (in the low 70° F range) and you’ll be fine with hiking pants or shorts and a t-shirt with an extra top layer. It’s also highly recommended to bring hiking poles as these will help you navigate the soft earth of the volcano, especially on the way down! 

You’ll be required to carry all of your personal items, including warm clothes for the night and toiletries, plus your own water. There are no water fill stations on the volcano so you’ll want to carry the recommended 4 liters with you from the start. (A hydration pack, like a Camelbak, makes it easier to carry water on a trek like this.)

There is a small shop at the park entrance, which is about 30 minutes or so into your journey that sells water, sports drinks and snacks. At this point, you’ll be required to register your hike and pay the park entrance fee of Q110. 

The rest of the hike is made less challenging with frequent planned rest stops, including a lunch break.

You’ll arrive at basecamp by mid-late afternoon and get settled in. Be prepared to notice the effects of high altitude, like a headache, dizziness or shortness of breath. As long as you drink enough water, you should be fine, but everyone reacts differently so it’s good to be prepared. 

And this isn’t the end of the hike (unless you want it to be!)…

Hiking Volcan Fuego

If you’re feeling up for the challenge, and weather and visibility permitting, you can make the additional trek to summit Volcan Fuego for sunset. The additional hike may cost extra depending on your tour company (mine was an additional Q200 / around $26), but it was totally worth it! Though this was easily the most challenging part of my trek, both physically and mentally, I would highly recommend you make the effort if you’re not feeling too depleted from the accent to basecamp.  

The hike will take about 1.5 hours to go down Acatenango and up Fuego. Then it’ll take about 2.5 hours to make it back to basecamp at the top of Acatenango, most of which you’ll be hiking in the dark so a headlamp is absolutely necessary. 

You’ll begin the hike by descending Volcan Acatenango (on the opposite side you hiked up) in very loose volcanic dirt. This is where your hiking poles will really come in handy as well as a Buff or face covering to keep the dust out of your lungs. You’ll also want to make sure you bring all the warm layers you have on this part of the hike. The top of Fuego is the coldest part of the entire overnight journey. 

Once you reach the valley between the two volcanos, you’ll start the ascent to the top of Fuego. Since this is very much an active volcano, you’ll be climbing to the ridge about 500m from the actual crater. Your tour company will provide you with extra gear such as helmets if necessary (it wasn’t at all necessary on our trip). 

The ridge can be extremely windy, so you’ll want to layer up just before you reach the top. But you’ll be rewarded with some of the most amazing sunset views I’ve ever witnessed. You’ll be so far above the cloud it’ll feel like you’re in an airplane. 

Stay for sunset and if you can weather the cold, just after dark you’ll start to see the lava erupting from Fuego’s crater up close and personal!  

After you make it back to basecamp, you’ll be rewarded with a warm fire and hot meal. My tour company made all the food we needed for our trip and we had a delicious meal of rice and curry prepared for us when we returned, plus hot chocolate around the bonfire.

The Acatenango Summit Hike

The following morning after a cozy night sleeping under the stars (or in my case, a volcano-proof hut), you’ll have the option for one final hike before you make your descent back to civilization.

You can choose to climb to the summit of Volcan Acatenango from basecamp, to watch the sunrise. 

This additional hike is a quick one that takes just 45-minutes to reach the top, but it comes with a 4 a.m. wake up call!

After you watch the sun come up over the clouds (a truly magical experience!) it’ll take just about 20 minutes to climb back down to basecamp for a quick breakfast and packing up to hit the trail around 7:30 a.m.

Acatenango trek itinerary

If you decide to go with a tour company, your 2-day trek itinerary will look roughly like this (times are rough estimates and not exact!). 

Day 1:

  • 8:00 a.m. meet at shop, 1.5 hour bus ride (windy, bumpy roads) to the start of the hike at La Soledad

  • 10:00 a.m. begin hike

  • 11:30 a.m. lunch break

  • 2:00 p.m. arrive at base camp and relax

  • 4:00 p.m. start hike to Fuego

  • 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. return to base camp and have dinner & campfire

Day 2: 

  • 4:00 a.m. wake up call for Acatenango summit sunrise hike

  • 5:45 a.m. sunrise

  • 6:45 a.m. light breakfast at base camp

  • 7:45 a.m start decent to La Soledad

  • 11:00 – 11:30 a.m. arrive back in Antigua at the shop, gear rental returns

The food

Before doing an overnight hike, it can be helpful to know what to expect when it comes to food (especially if you have allergies or dietary restrictions).

As we already explained, our experience with food on this hike was not the best…

It’s not like I was expecting a 5-course meal or anything special when it came to food. But dinner was Cup Noodles, and we each got a couple of marshmallows to roast on a fire and a pack of hot chocolate. Maybe we eat a lot, but we were pretty hungry all night because we had just done a pretty intense hike and hadn’t packed many snacks.

Amanda had a better food experience with the tour company she went with…

Wicho & Charlie’s provided lunch, dinner and breakfast.

  • Lunch: The lunch was a portion of rice and curry and included an assortment of snacks such as granola bars, fruit and nuts, which was plenty to tide me over. I ate about half the lunch during our lunch stop and the other half when I reached basecamp. 

  • Dinner: Dinner was a simple meal of rice and curry, but it was pretty delicious considering it was prepared on top of a volcano. We were offered as many portions as we preferred, but most people were satisfied with just a single bowl. There was also hot chocolate by the campfire afterwards.

  • Breakfast: Coffee and tea was offered while our guides prepared a simple breakfast of instant oatmeal. While it wasn’t much, it was early and no one was particularly hungry. Plus we had left over snacks if needed on the hike down.

What to wear for hiking Volcan Acatenango

You’ll want to pack plenty of warm layers, especially if you plan to summit Volcan Fuego for sunset. And believe me when I say plenty, I mean all the warm layers you can manage!

Basecamp gets very cold at night (it can get down to the single digits — that’s -14° C at its coldest!) and the wind on top of Volcan Fuego will have your teeth chattering and your fingers (almost) too frozen to take photos. 

  • Warm clothing is key! Bring or rent all the warm clothes you possibly can and make sure you have all these layers with you when you climb Volcan Fuego. 

    • The tour companies typically provide warm clothes for rent at a small additional fee. You can also rent through your hostel or hotel in Antigua. I recommend you get EVERYTHING: wool socks, hiking pants/long underwear, outer layers and jackets, scarves, Buffs, gloves, hats, headlamps, hiking poles

    • Check your wool socks before you leave the shop – more than one of us found holes in our rented wool socks when we went to put them on at the top of the volcano. 

    • Rent gear the day or few days before your hike, can leave it at the shop in a locker (must provide your own lock) or take it home with you.

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  • Athletic shoes or sneakers are fine, but they will be absolutely covered in dirt. You’ll want shoes you can throw in the washer when you’re finished with the hike. If you decide to rent boots/shoes, keep in mind you may get blisters. 

  • Poles are a necessity and will come in seriously handy for the unstable earth of the volcano. You can rent these from your tour company or from rental shops in Antigua.

    • Budget Tip: You can rent a walking stick from the small stand at the base of the volcano. It costs just Q10 ($1.30 USD) and is super handy on the hike if you didn’t bring poles.

What to pack for hiking Volcan Acatenango

You’ll need to carry all your own supplies, including water. Here’s a list of the items we’d recommend bringing.

  • Water: It’s recommended to have 4 liters for the entire trip. A hydration pack, like a Camelbak, will make carrying the water much more comfortable.

    • Check with your tour company before your hike to see if they provide water, and if so, how much. The guides may also require each hiker to give them up to 1 liter of water to cook dinner and breakfast, so you’ll want to account for that too.

    • Ask your tour company if they provide bottles. Wicho & Charlie’s gives hikers 1.5L bottles you can fill in their shop before your hike.

    • You may also want to bring a bottle of Gatorade along to give an extra boost of sugar and electrolytes. 

  • Bring plenty of snacks for the hike 

  • Pack all your own personal items/toiletries

    • Good to bring extra underwear/sports bras to change once you’ve gotten all sweaty

    • No need to get fancy with your toiletries, just a toothbrush and toothpaste, face or baby wipes (your tour company may or may not provide these)

  • Bring your own toilet paper!

  • Remember to bring a bag to carry out all your garbage (including used TP!) 

  • Headlamp

Tips for hiking Volcan Acatenango

  • Everything will be covered in dirt/dust, including your face. Bring or rent a Buff to protect your lungs from the dust.

  • You can hire a porter to help you carry your weight. This can make the hike a lot more manageable, especially if you’re a less experienced hiker. 

    • Another option to consider is to rent a porter backpack (made to carry all your belongings and water more comfortably).

  • Warm up a rock by the fire and put it in the bottom of your sleeping bag to keep warm overnight. Genius!

  • Be prepared for the altitude, 13,044 ft (3,976m), and spend a few days getting acclimated in Antigua before your trek. 

  • The 1.5-hour bus ride from Antigua to the base of Volcan Acatenango is a bumpy and windy ride. Take motion sickness medication if you are prone to getting car sick. But, (and this is a really important but!) make sure not to take anything that will make you drowsy. You’ll need peak energy levels to tackle this hike!

How much does it cost to hike Acatenango?

The price of the overnight Acatenango trek varies depending on the tour company you go with and what is included in your tour. In total, I paid about $160 USD for my entire trek. Below are some costs you should consider when planning your hike.

  • Cost of the tour: Depending on which tour company, what’s included and your sleeping arrangements (private or shared), you can expect to pay anywhere from $45 – $100 USD per person.

    • OX Expeditions is a flat all-inclusive rate for shared tents at $89

    • Wicho & Charlie’s has a range of rates with and without food and shared or private huts from $45 – $80 per person.

  • Park entrance fee: Q110 (about $15 USD)

  • Rental equipment: Depending on what you need, you’ll have to pay extra for rental equipment that isn’t covered in the cost of the tour. Each piece of equipment, from socks to hiking poles, will cost around Q10-ish. I paid roughly Q150 (about $20 USD) for all my rental gear.

  • Porters: Hiring a porter for the hike up costs Q150, or Q200 if you have a heavy bag. The way down is a flat Q150 fee. And don’t forget to tip on top of that!

  • Food: Food was included in the cost of both the tours we experienced. But we also recommend brining your own snacks.

  • Cost of extra hikes: The additional Volcan Fuego hike costs an extra Q200 (about $25 USD).

Are you planning a trip to Guatemala?

We have lots more resources on travel in Guatemala and destinations throughout the country. Check out our Ultimate Guatemala Travel Guide for all the important travel information, or read some of our favorite articles below.

  • Things to Do in Guatemala

  • Top Things to do in Antigua, Guatemala

  • Best Things to do around Lake Atitlan

  • Guide to Visiting Semuc Champey

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We want to hear from you!

Are you planning to do the Volcan Acatenango trek and still have questions? Leave your comment below and we’ll do our best to find answers for you!

— Update: 12-03-2023 — found an additional article Acatenango Hike In Guatemala – All You Need To Know [2023] from the website for the keyword volcan acatenango hike.

Hiking to the summit of Volcán Acatenango in Antigua was hands-down the highlight of my trip to Guatemala and it is definitely not to be missed on anyone’s itinerary!

The Acatenango hike is an epic 2-days and 1-night adventure which isn’t an easy feat but it’s 110% worth it.

Not only will you be rewarded with an incredible 360-degree view at the summit (which, by the way, sits at 3,976 meters above sea level) but you will also get to experience a close encounter with the neighboring and very active Volcán de Fuego.

I have put together this complete guide including an overview of the trek, where to book, what to expect, and things to know before you go!

IN A HURRY? Click here to book your Acatenango Volcano Hike

Volcan acatenango hike


Day One is approximately a 5 – 6 hour hike from the starting point to base camp, on Day Two it’s a further 1 hour hike to the summit for sunrise and followed by a 3 – 4 hour hike back down again.

These hiking times vary depending on your level of fitness and previous hiking experience.

In saying that, the Acatenango hike is suitable for the common traveler with a sense of adventure and a love for the outdoors.

I even saw people walking their dogs along the trail, so you’ve honestly got nothing to worry about!

Before I go into more detail, see below for a brief overview of the hike:


  • 9:00 am / Hotel pick-up and a 1-hour shuttle transfer to the trailhead
  • 10:30 am / The hike begins with rest breaks every 15-minutes
  • 1:00 pm / 30-minute stop for lunch 
  • 4:00 pm / Arrive at camp and high-fives all around
  • 4:30 – 7:00 pm / Sit around the campfire and marvel at Volcano Fuego
  • 7:00 pm / Dinner is served with hot drinks
  • 9:00 pm / Time to get some rest in your tent


  • 4:00 am / Early rise for the final 1-hour hike to Acatenango summit
  • 5:00 am / Enjoy the sunrise and sweeping views at 3, 976 meters
  • 6:00 am / Back to camp for breakfast
  • 8:00 am / Begin the hike back down to the bottom
  • 11:00 am / Hike complete and shuttle back to Antigua
  • 12:00 pm / Arrive back at your hotel for a hot shower
Volcan acatenango hike
Sunset on the volcano


There are countless tour agencies and hostels in Antigua that offer overnight tours to Acatenango, though it can be quite overwhelming trying to decide which company to book with, and most importantly, not getting ripped off.

I highly recommend booking online in advance on the Get Your Guide website to be guaranteed the best rates.

The cost of hiking Acatenango is around 690 Quetzal ($90 USD) which is very affordable and great value for money!

The Acatenango tour includes the following:

  • Experienced, professional guide
  • Hotel pick-up and drop off
  • Sleeping bag, tent, and mattress
  • Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and hot drinks

What you will need to bring:

  • Medium-sized backpack to carry personal items
  • Drinking water
  • Extra snacks, sunscreen, toilet paper, and a flashlight
  • Warm clothes and comfortable hiking shoes

Book Now → Acatenango Tour

Volcan acatenango hike
The squad at the summit


As I mentioned earlier, hiking Acatenango was the highlight of my trip to Guatemala and unlike any other adventure I have been on.

Camping on the side of a volcano, overlooking another volcano that frequently erupts is something you don’t get to experience every day!

Volcan de Acatenango is an impressive mountain in itself, though the main attraction of this hike is being able to get up close and personal with the nearby Volcan de Fuego.

Witnessing a volcano spewing lava, rocks, and smoke from its vent is a very unique experience that I am sure you will never forget. So pack your bags and get ready to hike!

Search All → Accommodations in Antigua

Volcan acatenango hike
Let’s go!
Volcan acatenango hike
Base camp overlooking Volcan de Fuego


After a hearty breakfast at your hotel on the morning of the Acatenango hike, you’ll be picked up from your hotel at 9 am.

Pile into a minivan with your fellow hikers to make the 1-hour drive to the trailhead, stopping for a few minutes at a convenience store on the way.

This is where you can buy the necessary drinking water and any additional snacks you may want.

Remember the less weight you have in your backpack, the less strenuous the hike will be, so don’t go buying up the whole store haha!

Before the hike begins, the guides will give everyone a quick briefing on the itinerary and what to expect along the way.

There is also a local woman at the entrance selling lightweight walking sticks for 10 Quetzal which comes in handy on the steep trail, especially on the way back down.

Do note that during the night and at the summit of Acatenango, temperatures can reach below freezing so you will want to make sure you are well-equipped with warm clothing.

Volcan acatenango hike
The trailhead
Volcan acatenango hike
Our guides Don Juan and Isaias
Volcan acatenango hike
The hike begins!


The trail consists mainly of dirt, gravel, and make-shift stairs cut into the mountainside. If you have a decent pair of walking shoes or boots with good grip you shouldn’t have any slip-ups.

For the most part, the trail is shaded, though during the last 1 hour of trekking you’ll be exposed to the sun when traversing across the backside of the volcano to reach base camp.

There is no easing into the Acatenango hike, the trail is steep right from the get-go so make sure to have a little stretch beforehand.

The first 20 minutes of the hike runs alongside some cornfields where you can say hello to the local harvesters and enjoy sweeping views of the region. Shortly after, you’ll be completely immersed under a canopy of lush forest.

Every 500 meters or so the guides will stop the group for a short break to catch their breath and rehydrate.

There are also several sheltered huts on the way up to plonk your butt and give your legs a rest.

Believe me, anywhere you can sit down for a minute and take your backpack off you should use this opportunity to do so.

At 1:00 pm everyone stops for around 30 minutes to have lunch. Again, if you have any dietary restrictions you will be catered for.

Also along the trail are a few epic viewpoints that are worthy of stopping at for a quick photo.

Be sure to keep your eyes peeled to spot Lake Atitlan and its surrounding volcanoes which can be seen off in the distance on a clear day.

Volcan acatenango hike
Isaias leading the way
Volcan acatenango hike
A well-needed rest stop along the trail
Volcan acatenango hike
Traversing across the volcano
Volcan acatenango hike
4 hours into the Acatenango trek
Volcan acatenango hike
Above the clouds


At around 4:00 – 4:30 pm you’ll finally arrive at base camp and catch the first glimpse of the erupting Volcan de Feugo which seems just a stone’s throw away.

Apart from marveling at this incredible mountain from across the valley, you can hear its loud groans and feel its powerful energy through the earth beneath your feet. It is truly something else!

You can set your belongings down inside your tent and roam around the area to capture some photos of the erupting Fuego Volcano or simply sit around the campfire, while the sun sets.

The guides will also cook dinner which is served around 7 pm.


The base camp sits high above the clouds boasting the most incredible volcano views and watching the sunset on this day was one that I will not soon forget!

Our guides said that between 8:00 pm and 9:00 pm is when Volcan de Fuego is most active and they weren’t wrong!

Every 5-minutes or so, Fuego would erupt throwing spurts of blazing hot lava high into the air before landing on the slope and flowing down the mountainside.

I’ll say it again, it’s definitely not something you get to see every day!

We all stayed up as a group watching these eruptions in awe while sitting around the campfire. The darker the night sky got, the brighter the flames of Fuego became. 

It wasn’t until around 9:30 pm that everyone was tucked into bed, ready to wake again at 4:00 am for the final 1-hour push to reach the summit. Don’t forget to set your alarm!

Volcan acatenango hike
An erupting Volcan de Fuego
Volcan acatenango hike
Campfire vibes
Volcan acatenango hike
Above the clouds
Volcan acatenango hike
Volcan de Fuego
Volcan acatenango hike
Views for days


At around 4:00 am the last leg of the journey begins to reach the summit of Volcán Acatenango in time for sunrise.

Again, the trail doesn’t ease you in at all, it’s very steep right from the get-go and it’s very cold in the morning so be sure to rug up.

It’s recommended to have a flashlight or head torch to aid you in the dark for the final scramble to the top. This section of the hike consists of loose rocks and it’s quite narrow in some areas.

Related Article → Backpacking Guatemala

Our group beat record time hiking from base camp to the summit in just 1-hour! For other groups behind us, it took them around 1 hour and 15 minutes. 

Reaching the highest point at 3, 976 meters was a huge accomplishment for all of us and it was high fives all around.

The air is thin and it’s freezing cold at the top but the spectacular 360-degree views of the region, complemented by the sun rising above the horizon is most rewarding!

We spent around 30 minutes at the very summit of Volcan Acatenango, taking photos and marveling at the phenomenal landscape that lay before our eyes.

I could have spent hours up there if the temperature wasn’t below freezing!

The hike back down to base camp takes around 45 minutes and you’ll get to chill for about an hour around the campfire whilst having breakfast, tea and coffee.

Volcan acatenango hike
Early morning on the hike
Volcan acatenango hike
Volcan de Fuego doing its thing
Volcan acatenango hike
3, 976 meters above sea level
Volcan acatenango hike
Volcan acatenango hike
Volcan acatenango hike
Epic views
Volcan acatenango hike
Golden rays
Volcan acatenango hike
Hiking back down
Volcan acatenango hike
Fuego Volcano


After a hearty breakfast, it’s time to make the home stretch back to the starting point of the Acatenango trek.

Even though it’s all downhill, you will be surprised how much your legs will get a workout on the descent. It’s a real leg-burner!

The way down is along the exact same trail you came up on and it takes around 3 hours with rest stops.

The temperatures will start to rise the lower you get on the mountain so feel free to stop at any time to de-layer out of your warm clothing.

Before you know it the trek will come to an end and a refreshing lemon drink will be waiting on arrival to quench your thirst.

Tipping your guides at the end of the trek is not necessary but a small amount will go a long way. From here a minivan will transport the group back to Antigua.

Volcan acatenango hike
On the way back down
Volcan acatenango hike
Don Juan leading the group down
Volcan acatenango hike
All smiles!
Volcan acatenango hike
Thirst-quenching lemonade awaits


All in all, hiking Acatenango is not easy due to its steep trails, though it’s one of the most rewarding adventures to be had in Guatemala!

In my experience embarking on this trek, I can’t recommend it enough!  The service was flawless, the guides were fantastic, it was great value for money and I think I can speak for our entire group here and say that we all felt completely satisfied!

If you’re looking for the ultimate adventure, look no further than a 2-day and 1-night trek to the summit of Acatengango Guatemala – I guarantee you won’t regret it!


Volcan acatenango hike
El Fuego


Volcan acatenango hike


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Volcan acatenango hike


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