During our trip to Guatemala, we haven’t planned on visiting an active volcano. However, while in Antigua, we saw a lot of offers, a hike to Pacaya volcano, and very tempting, especially seeing the picture. I was uncertain about it, especially of the recent eruption in 2014. But the sentiment of doubtful was directly my answer, why not. It would be another luxurious experience to see an active volcano.
I have been to an active volcano in Nicaragua and Costa Rica, but not impressive as Pacaya. Pacaya was the most terrifying and grandeur volcano I ever have seen that spewed lava. Also, the most touristic volcano compared to the previous volcanoes I have visited. So if you are a hiker, this should be on the list. I’m glad to have seen it or else I probably regret going back home. Pacaya is one of the most tourist attraction in Antigua. It is absolutely worth a visit.
Booking a tour in Antigua
The trip from Antigua to Pacaya takes almost two hours, which can be arranged beforehand. We book the tour by Conexiones Turisticas. If you can’t find a tour office, even from your hotel front desk can arrange it for you, but not sure if you get it for a low price.
One can choose the time which starts at 6:00 in the morning or 2:00 in the afternoon with a free hotel pick up for 20 US dollars. We took the afternoon tour, but we were going down in the dark. So take a torch if you plan to visit in the afternoon.
They will tell you that it is a 6-hour tour. Basically, it wasn’t a complete six-hour tour. By the time everyone has been picked up from their hotels takes about 45 minutes. The exact time you spent at the volcano is less than three hours, which includes walking.
You can clearly see the smoke on top of the mountain.
Once achieving the top, you have an unobstructed view of the smoke. We were standing on the foot of the Pacaya volcano. I can’t believe to see this close. The hike starts from San Francisco de Sales, right from the bottom of Pacaya volcano. The starting point or should I say, the meeting point for all the tourist from Antigua. Also, the entrance of 50 Quetzales will be pay there.
A local guide will walk up with you. Walking to Pacaya is relatively easy, I’m not a sportive woman, I mean I was to be but haven’t done sports for years now since my back problem. But somehow, the hike to Pacaya volcano it wasn’t easy for some people. Furthermore, if one not fit enough to hike, you can rent a horse for 200 Quetzales.
What to expect for this hike
A hike to a volcano is a great way to see nature, and Pacaya volcano is unusual, in fact, is the most astounding volcano I have ever seen. The climb takes about 1 hour depending on your speed. Some people can take a little longer.
We’re climbing for 1800 meters where the lava flows come from the volcano. It takes an effort for some people but the acknowledgment of the hard work and achievements once up there. Because it is a popular tourist attraction from Antigua, the afternoon tour is quite busy. There were six vans taking groups from Antigua and Guatemala City on the day we went. Incredulous, everyone’s walks on the same path look like competing for each other whom the fastest hiker. And if one can’t cope the speed from the others, it’s behind the dusty trail.
The volcano and the solidified lava around
We reached the top and acclaimed with a wow feeling. The views were amazing. Guess what? That’s why everyone prefers the afternoon tour because when it starts to get dark is the best time to see Pacaya spewed out lava. Also, everyone treats with a beautiful sunset at the top.
How about treated for roasted marshmallows? The lava river has disappeared since 2010, and only coagulated lava discern visually on the slope. The heat of the underground lava flows existing located under some rock holes where hot steam comes out, the guide knew exactly where to find. Above these heat sources, one can roasting marshmallows.
what to wear and pack when climbing Pacaya
What you wear for trekking? If you don’t have a trekking shoe. A comfortable walking sneaker is sufficient for climbing the volcano. Pacaya volcano is easily accessible with fairly good walking trails. If you wear rubber shoes, it must be a dark color because it likely gets dirty. It is terrible, a dusty trail, and some people even wear a mask.
If you climb in the afternoon, make sure to take a torch because you’re going down in a pitch-dark. A jacket also needed, you may not need it during the walk as you will be sweating, but once on the highest point can be cold up there. Also, take a bottle of water.