A hearty breakfast is an obligatory way to start a day with “climb volcano” on its agenda. Thankfully our Antigua-based hotel delivered with strong coffee and a glorious tortilla burrito packed with cheese, beans, and tomatoes.
The bus engine groaned to a start and our group set out along the bumpy road to the trailhead for Acatenango Volcano. Upon arrival, we met our guide Melvindj, Mel for short he told us, and he explained the journey ahead. It’d take us about 5 to 6 hours to reach our campsite for the night, and the following morning we’d make the final climb up to the volcano’s summit at 4,300 m (14,100 ft) .
My friend Bri and I signed up for the budget tour option which meant we carried everything from our food and water to our own camping equipment. Steep sections of trail made the walk up intense with the weight of our packs. But the view from our tents that evening made it worth all that huffing and puffing!
Acatenango’s active neighbor, Volcán de Fuego, expelled billowing puffs of black smoke. Huddled around the campfire we could even make out the orange-red lava it spit out.
Rain fell hard that night but thankfully (and somewhat miraculously) the skies cleared by our 3:30 am wake up call. Bundled in all my layers, I unzipped the tent at snail’s pace: I knew chilling temperatures awaited just beyond the nylon walls.
The first sunrise hues appeared over the horizon as we made our way up to the volcano crater.
And the views atop Acatenango were 360 degrees of spectacular.
Surrounding us were Guatemalan peaks and small towns below. Bri pointed out Lake Atitlán in the distance.
The volcano’s outer rim plunged inward to form an expansive bowl-shape crater. Smack dab in the middle sat a small observation station.
Volcanoes and handstands. Why not?
The drama in those clouds.
We began our descent when the fog started to creep in.
Back at camp, while packing up our equipment, El Fuego put on another good show that I captured for memory sake on my phone.