Hiking Acatenango volcano in Guatemala is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience but how hard is it really?
Keep reading for a first-hand experience from A Vegan Adventure Holidays Traveller Shachi and her lovely family from the USA.
Q: What attracted you to want to summit Acatenango? It’s not an easy hike!
A: I love challenging hikes and Acatenango is a unique hike where you climb one volcano and camp at the top to see another active one (Fuego) exploding all night long. It’s a bucket list hike and everyone should do it.
Q: Did you have any pre-hike concerns?
A: We had so many pre-hike concerns. But with Emma, I was assured that I would be okay either way – whether I was able to finish or not. She also picked an amazing sustainable local tour company serving all plant-based meals. I’m vegan and this was important for me.
Q: Would you mind sharing your age and general fitness level?
A: I’m 44 and my husband is 46. We are active outdoorsy people – we hike/walk/run daily, do strength workouts at home, bike with kids – but I wouldn’t call us extremists. We are average folks who prioritize movement daily, and have an average level of fitness. However, we are certainly not couch potatoes.
Q: How long did it take you to hike up to base camp?
A: It took us about 4 hours. This included all the stops though. Moving time was 2 hours. We lucked out with amazing weather (no rain, lots of fog) and no health issues.
Q: What was the highlight of the hike for you?
A: The highlight of the hike were 2 things: a) when the fog/clouds cleared up at base camp and we could see Fuego erupting – I was mesmerized. It’s nothing like I had ever experienced before. b) Sunrise hike to the summit in the dark. My husband couldn’t join as he sprained his back and I was slower than the rest of the group. But one guide agreed to support me, and I reached the top only 5 mins after the other people. The views and experience at 13000+ ft were worth it.
Q: What was the toughest part of the hike?
A: I will be honest and say I did not find the hike tough. We paid the porters to carry our pack (brilliant idea by Emma), and we hiked at a very comfortable pace. The sunrise hike was a bit intimidating as I couldn’t see the trail much. But I had trust in our guides and crew.
Q: How was the food during the hike?
A: The food was fab. I couldn’t imagine everyone was eating my staple food while growing up – dal chawal (rice n lentils) at base camp.
Q: Do you have any tips for other people that might be looking to do the hike?
A: Tips: trust Emma to plan everything for you. She came with us at check-in time and helped us load our packs. I borrowed an undershirt thermal from her as I felt the one I had wouldn’t be enough. She made suggestions on snacks we needed, and how much water. Without her we would be overwhelmed and felt lost.
She has done the hike several times and had shared her experience with us which was also comforting. Also, come with a certain amount of fitness – this hike would be hard for someone who is not active n reasonably fit. We had a couple of people from our group struggle, and one person who chose not to hire a porter injured his back n was left behind on the way back as he needed help coming down the mountain. Don’t be a casualty – be smart.
Overall, I highly recommend you listen to Emma, and have her plan not just Acatenango but your entire Guatemala trip for you. She managed our kids while we went on the hike, and it was a belated but memorable 15th-anniversary celebration for my husband & I. She cooked some fab vegan meals for us at our condo, and took us to all her favorite vegan as well as coffee spots around. The best part of Guatemala is the people – Emma chooses to work with the kindest of folks who also happen to be experts. The country is breathtakingly beautiful, and it’s so underrated. Go before it becomes a tourist-trapped madness!!
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Emma – Vegan Adventure Holidays