Guatemala’s Fiery Trails: Exploring the Top Three Volcano Hikes


The Republic of Guatemala has a landscape like you have never seen. Not only do most of these cities and towns have views of lush and tropical greenery, but the terrain is mountainous. Most of these cities and towns are surrounded by volcanoes. There are nearly 40 volcanoes in the country of Guatemala.

Luckily only three of these volcanoes are active: Fuego, Pacaya, and Santa Maria. The volcanoes in this region of Central America are not only a stunning attraction, but many tourists and locals enjoy exploring and hiking these natural structures. Here is a list of our three favorite volcanoes that you must explore while you’re visiting Guatemala.

Acatenango Volcano

Guatemala - Acatenango Volcan

Located on the outskirts of Antigua, Acatenango Volcano offers an incredible hiking experience. Acatenango is popular for several reasons. It has an up-close view of Fuego Volcano and it’s amazing to see at night. Many people take the time to go with a tour group and participate in a two-day overnight hike. The hike up and down Acatenango can be steep, but it’s totally worth it. The hike up typically takes five hours, but once you get to the top you can either book a cabin or tents so you can spend a night at the top of the mountain.

You can watch Fuego erupt over night as Fuego typically erupts every fifteen minutes. It gets cold at the top of Acatenango, so make sure you pack layers. Hiking Acatenango is a once-in-a- lifetime opportunity that is totally worth it.

Santa Maria Volcano

Unlike Acatenango, Santa Maria is an active volcano. Located several miles from Quetzaltenango, Santa Maria is one of the easiest volcano hikes you can take in Guatemala. You don’t need a tour guide as the path is fairly easy to follow. It will take you six hours to hike Santa Maria in total, so it should really only take a day. Once you reach the top, you will be greeted by views of the Guatemalan countryside and Xela. You will not regret this hike, and it’s a good option if you don’t want to spend two full days hiking like you would at Acatenango.

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Pacaya Volcano

Guatemala - Pacaya Volcano

This hike is even easier than Santa Maria. Located just south of Guatemala City, this hike should only take you at most four hours. Your day won’t be shot after you complete this hike, and you will have time for other activities. Take a shuttle from Guatemala City or Antigua and hire a local tour guide because although this hike is shorter, it’s not as intuitive as Santa Maria. It is easier to get lost at Pacaya. Actually, taking a tour guide is mandatory for this hike.

The best part of Pacaya is that you will certainly come across a lava field halfway through your hike. If you want to roast marshmallows on fiery lava, this is your chance!

Hiking a volcano is a once-in-a-lifetime event for most people. Even if you’re not a hiking advocate, you must take the opportunity to be surrounded by a molten, hot environment. Remember to pack accordingly – bring sweaters, gloves, sunglasses, sunscreen, and a first aid kit. Hiking a volcano can be difficult, but its worth it for the experience and the view from the top!

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