Hiking My First Active Volcano!
Pacaya Volcano, Guatemala
It’s my first day in Guatemala and after an hour of hiking, I already find myself questioning the sanity of the activity I’m participating in. I’m on the side of the most active volcano in Guatemala; hey, what could go wrong.. it’s only a volcano right!?
The day started out with a routine introductory meeting – my new companions for the week are an Israeli family of 4 who I’d be joining for a five day guided tour of Guatemala’s most popular destinations with Guatemalan Adventure.
We drove up much of Pacaya’s base and upon arrival after the last bit of bumpy road we were all treated to beautiful views of two other volcanoes across the valley.
To my surprise one of them began emitting a large plume of ash just after I made eye contact! Whelp… glad we didn’t pick that one to hike today! A few minutes of ogling over the views pass and we’re all ready to play the climb the mountain game.
Onward we go, passing through some light trees and shrubs- with young children and horses hot on our trail (hoping we’d decide that hooves were a better ride up than our own feet!). Left, right, left – one step after another, time ticks and sweat begins to trickle through the cracks and crevices of my body. At nearly 8,000 feet in elevation I’m finding it increasingly difficult to satisfy my lungs request for more oxygen. This is the point in all hikes where I begin pondering why I torture myself with long walks up steep hills.
After an eternity of walking or possibly less than a couple hours (who’s counting?) we’ve reached new surroundings – gone is the soft, fertile soil – replaced by hard, dried lava. Pacaya’s crater is now in sight and I’m beginning to remember why hikes are worth the pain – the payoff at the top!
And what a payoff it was! We were all pleasantly surprised to see rocks being violently ejected out of the crater and safely away from our direction. It wasn’t a constant eruption, just quick intervals which added to the challenge of snapping this photo for the blog 😉
Pacaya was a great introduction to Guatemala’s beautiful and natural landscapes that left me with even more anticipation for what was to come in the following days!
This was the first day of my guided trip with Guatemalan Adventure, read more here:
- Day 1 – Hiking an Active Volcano
- Day 2 – The Chaotic Chichicastenango Market
- Day 3 – Lake Atitlan – The Most Beautiful Lake in the World?
- Day 4 – Hiking the Biotopo del Quetzal Cloud Forest
- Day 5 – Semuc Champey – Guatemala’s Hidden Paradise
That’s so brave of you mate. Well done, guess you couldn’t get anything closer :). Stunning scenery!
Woah. I’m in Mexico right now, and I’m considering heading down to Guatemala. This could tip it for me because hiking is my favourite thing to do – these seems like a real ‘once in a lifetime’ kinda thing.
Well if you like hiking Southern Mexico and Central America have tons of great options.. there are volcanoes, waterfalls, etc all over the place.
What an impressive hike! You’ve been VERY brave, I’m not sure I would have been able to do the same!
I did this hike a few years back and the glue melted on my runners. 🙂
Now that must have been quite an experience!
Pacaya volcano’s condition was abnormal and in an eruptive state. Your trek was very risky. Fortunate that no one was injured when climbing its summit crater. Surprising that authorities permitted this trek. Thanks for sharing this daring trek.
James that looks like a great adventure – but also sounds like lady luck was on your side. I think I’d be running up it and down – no lingering for me.
This looks so cool. I love volcanoes. Have climbed Cotopaxi in Ecuador before, but it sure wasn’t as active as this one. :-/
That’s so awesome… That looks like such a cool trip
Completely nuts! And something I’d love to do too 🙂 Great pics.
Wow, this looks like an absolute challenge. I would love to do it though!