Amazing experience: climbing the volcano Acatenango & Fuego in Guatemala!

Acatenango: one of the most beautiful volcanoes in Guatemala. We climbed the volcano Acatenango and also the volcano Fuego, both amazing experiences. In this blog I will tell you everything you need to know about climbing the Acatenango volcano in Guatemala!

How to hike to the top of volcano Acatenango in Guatemala?

Acatenango is one of the highest volcanoes in Central America, almost 4000 meters high. It is an active volcano, but the last eruption was in 1972. Right next to the Acatenango, is the volcano Fuego, literally translated as the fire volcano. This is a lot more active and he spits every 20 minutes, ash, rock and lava. Both volcanoes are close to Antigua and are popular for climbing.

All you need to know about climbing the Acatenango and Fuego Volcanoes

Antigua as a base for a volcano hike

Antigua is a good base for a hike to one of the surrounding volcanoes. You can book a hike in various places in the city. Usually booking just a few days ahead is more than enough. It is important that you do the hikes with good weather. On the one hand because otherwise, you won’t see much because of clouds or rain, on the other hand, because it can also be dangerous to climb the steep volcano with bad weather.

Which tour operator to pick for a volcano hike to Acatenango?

We have doubted for a while about the company where we would book this volcanic attraction. In the end, we were very happy that we booked at Wicho and Charlie’s (this blog is not sponsored). Below information about the different organization where you can book.

Local tour operators €

On every street corner, there is a booking office where you can book a two-day hike. Normally I always try to book at a local company, this way the money really goes to the local population. However, we heard and read too many bad things about the treks at these local tour operators. Tents that leak, which are broken or blow away in the middle of the night, dirty sleeping bags and barely food. This did not sound very attractive, and we decided almost immediately not to book with these offices.

Costs for a trek with a local tour operator are between € 30 and € 40 per person.

Old Town Outfitters €€€€

We have heard good stories about Old Town Outfitters. Before booking, we read a lot online about them and thought for a long time this the only company that offered a safe and good option when it comes to climbing the Acatenango volcano. We spoke to a number of people who were very enthusiastic about this company. However, we found the price too high and when we finally heard of an alternative, we decided to go for that.

Costs for a trek at Old Town Outfitters are (depending on the number of participants) between € 110 and € 150 per person. In addition, you have to carry your tents and gear yourself, but you can hire a carrier for € 20 per person per day.

Wicho and Charlie’s €€

From step-brother Sander, we heard good stories about Wicho and Charlie’s. He had participated in the Acatenango hike last year and said that the tents were good, the food more than adequate and the people themselves fun. On his recommendation, we visited their office (which is also a hostel), and after half an hour of chatting, we decided to book here.

How do you sleep on top of the volcano Acatenango?

The hike at Wicho and Charlie’s is slightly more expensive than at a local street operator, but in our opinion, it’s more than worth the money! During the hike, we got more than enough to eat (also options for vegetarian, vegan and people with nut allergies), the tents where we slept in were large and firm. The guides we had with us were experienced, but pretty young. The latter is something we had to get used to, it feels crazy to trust boys of 16 with a difficult hike like the Fuego, but afterwards, this went fine. This is something that apparently is the case with all companies, we heard from other travellers.

How big is a group to climb volcano Acatenango?

Our group was quite large, 30 people with four guides, but we split up into two groups and that was nice because of the pace. In high season such a large group is normal, in low season you often deal with smaller groups.

We paid Q400, € 46, per person. It contained all the food, the guides, transport and some basic clothing pieces (hat, scarf, jacket and gloves).

Finally, there is also the company OX expeditions. We hear varying stories about them and have not done any further research into the possibilities of doing this hike with them.

All you need to know about climbing the Acatenango and Fuego Volcanoes

Are there any extra cost for climbing a volcano?

Please note that you have to pay for access to the park. This is Q50 per person, approximately €5,50. If you don’t have certain hike stuff yourself, you can often rent it with your tour operator. For example, we rented a trekking pole (Q40) and Ries rented a thick sweater, hat and scarf (Q40). You can also rent shoes, clothes, lights etc. Ries paid for the extra trip to the Fuego volcano Q200, € 23. Finally, we gave the guides a tip afterwards.

What do you choose: a one-day volcano hike or a two-day hike to Acatenango?

It is also possible to walk the Acatenango in a day. You won’t sleep on top, and you will not experience sunset or sunrise. At some companies, it is slightly cheaper to do the one-day hike.

We didn’t speak to anyone who did the one-day hike, but for us, the choice was very easy. I found the camping on the volcano very special. In addition, it is really worthwhile to be at the Acatenango at night because you see the Fuego spitting much better. During the day the red lava is not visible, only when it is dark.

Any other cool volcanoes in Guatemala?

It is also possible to climb the Pacaya volcano. This is a one-day hike, but in the future, there will also be two-day hikes where you will stay on the volcano. Finally, it is possible to climb the Tajumulco volcano. It is located near Xela, about three hours away from Antigua and is with its 4220 meters, the highest mountain in Central America.

Packing list for climbing a volcano! What to bring to volcano Acatenango?

What do you pack to climb volcanoes like Acatanenago or Fuego in Guatemala? Lot’s of layers! In the evening it cools down tremendously and you really need a lot of different layers to stay warm. In addition, carrying 4 litres of water is essential and a flashlight (and the most useful is a headlight) is super handy.

The majority of your belongings can be rented in Antigua. However, we have taken almost everything ourselves. Keep in mind that you will carry your food and eating utensils yourself, so there must still be room in your bag. Here is a list of what was in our backpack during this hike:

Click here to see what is in our camera bag while traveling!

Is it difficult to climb the Acatenango volcano?

It is certainly not a small easy hike that you do, but on the other hand, if you are in a good condition and you like to hike, then this volcano is super doable. We hike a lot ourselves but were quite a bit frightened by all the horror stories. This would be a horrible, heavy hike. Well, it was definitely not so bad as we thought. Up to the basecamp you walk for about four hours with a regular break. The road is steep, and especially during the first part the guides take their time, you will have enough time to catch your breath with every 20 to 30 minutes a few minutes of rest.

The difficult part: from basecamp to the top!

From basecamp to the top I found a bit more difficult. You are now at a high altitude, and I noticed that very good. I didn’t suffer from altitude sickness, but it got lighter in my head, I was sometimes dizzy and had a bit of a headache. It takes about an hour to walk to the top. When we arrived there, the wind blows incredibly hard, but this is not always the case. The way back was completely in the dark, super quick, but for me at least as hard as the way up.

How high is the Acatenango volcano?

The top of the Acatenango volcano is at 3976 meters altitude. However, you will stay here for a while, as the base camp where you sleep is at an altitude of 3600 meters.

The Fuego volcano is 3763 meters high. If you climb the Fuego volcano, you will not go to the top. Because the volcano is active, it is too dangerous to get close to the top. That is why there is a considerable distance from the top. Keep in mind that when you climb Fuego, you first walk to base camp (3600 meters) from Acatenango, then you descent, and then ascent to climb Fuego. Not much later you go back again this whole track. A physical challenge!

Can you get altitude sickness on the Acatenango volcano?

Yes, you can suffer from altitude sickness during the ascent of the Acatenango volcano. Altitude sickness can occur from 2500 meters, but usually only occurs at an altitude of 3500 meters. Because basecamp is just a little above this limit and because the top is even higher, there is a chance that you will get altitude sickness.

You cannot predict whether or not you will get altitude sickness in advance. Much is still unknown about altitude sickness anyway. To prevent you from getting it, it is important to drink plenty of water and walk slowly. Listen carefully to your body, take enough breaks and get symptoms (always headache plus a stomach, shortness of breath, tiredness or dizziness), then do not ascent any further. Sometimes a break can help, sometimes it won’t. Are you no longer walking straight (feeling like you are drunk), or are you short of breath even at rest? Then go directly to a lower height!

But having said all this: the chances are not that you will get altitude sickness. You can feel it a bit, but because you only stay one night on Acatenango it is not so bad. Of the group of 30 people with whom we went upstairs, one person really suffered from altitude sickness. In addition, there were people who did not feel 100% themselves, but found it not too bad. So don’t worry too much!

Here you can read the diary blog I wrote about the Acatenango and Fuego hike!

And what was our experience climbing the Fuego volcano?

Ries hiked an extra volcano, the Fuego. Here you start around 16.00 from basecamp, you first walk down part of Acatenango, and then in a straight line up the Fuego. This takes about 2.5 hours. After an hour of taking pictures and waiting for eruptions, you hike back in complete darkness, another 2.5 hours.

This is really a very heavy hike. Ries has a good physical condition, sports five times a week on average and has done marathons and other heavy runs in the past. He thought this was one of the toughest things he ever did. In addition, climbing the Fuego is not without risk. This is the volcano that erupts every 20 minutes and has caused many deaths in June. On the other hand, it is spectacular to walk across a rumbling volcano and to see eruptions just above you.

All you need to know about climbing the Acatenango and Fuego Volcanoes

I wonder how you experienced or will experience this hike! Do you have tips for other readers about this trek? Let us know via a comment! And if you have any questions, send us a message or leave a comment.

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  1. by jorge simoes on 1 August 2020  12:16 Reply

    Thanks for all good information. We are from Brazil, and we re going next october and your Acatenango post its just like a bible.


    • by Charlotte van de Sande on 4 August 2020  08:03 Reply

      Hi Jorge,
      Wauw this is so nice to read!! I am very happy our blog post is of big help to you! Enjoy your trip, it will be amazing for sure! And if you have any questions, let us know.
      Kind regards!

  2. by Laken Baldwin on 11 April 2022  01:09 Reply

    Thank you for the information! Very helpful!

  3. by Francisco on 23 August 2023  20:13 Reply

    Hello nice to read all these info I am going up sept did you bring your drone have read have to register did you Flyover the área ley me know any info
    Again thanks for the tips

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