Antigua, the magical place nestled in between 3 volcanoes, of which two still active today.
I wasn’t expecting to travel to Guatemala. I had a lot of other places higher on my ‘to go’ list. Though with the suggestion from an awesome friend, Woody: @hike4heads, I felt a real motivation to go. He had been guiding volcanoes out of Antigua for the past 6 months and had endless admiration for the country and this city. Antigua, the magical place nestled in between 3 volcanoes, of which two still active today. This town was once destroyed by one, Volcan’ Agua, in 1527, then it was rebuilt to its Italian Renaissance and the quaint city as before. I traveled with some close friends to experience these live volcanoes for myself.
The morning of our big hike, it felt quiet. We had a light breakfast with a cup of Guatemalan coffee. I was anxious for the hike before us. Hoping that we were all completely prepared for the adventure that has been described as “one of the hardest things people have done in their lives”. We were grateful to be apart of our friend’s final guiding tour in Guatemala and the weather couldn’t have worked out any better. With an amazing group of people, I was confident we would be able to complete this excursion.
...the summit to the fully active Volcan’ Fuego
The hike up to the Acetenango or “vista camp” was about six hours of technical trails, slippery slopes, and all around steep terrain. But the views kept us moving, along with frequent water breaks. The whole experience was breathtaking. Once we arrived at the camp we took extra time to rest our legs from the strenuous climb and watch the clouds clear from overhead.
Then came the “double whammy” portion of our journey; we were coming up to the summit of the fully active Volcan’ Fuego. Together, we descended the steep slopes, before climbing back up to 12,000 ft reaching a ‘safe distance’ from this angry volcano. This was one of the most incredible and inspirational views I have ever seen. Living in the moment, above the clouds, seeing, no, feeling and being fully present from the vibrations of this erupting volcano was surreal and nearly indescribable.
Due to high winds and cold temperatures we hiked back down soon after accomplishing the climb. But this wasn’t the usual descent from the summit, we still had to climb back up to our camp where we were eager to have some dinner and a glass of wine. We did this all while watching the erupting Volcan’ Fuego again and again, it never got old. As the sun went down and allowed the darkness to take over, the night was still ignited with stars and the rolling lava flowing freely down the sides of Fuego.
Before I knew it, I was being pulled out of my sleeping bag around 3:45 am. We needed the early start to reach the summit Acetenango for sunrise (a must do suggestion from Woody). And when I say being ‘pulled out of my sleeping bag’, I mean quite literally, I almost didn’t wake up! My body felt like it couldn’t move one more step, just thoroughly exhausted. But I made it.
El Paredon will forever have a special place in my heart.
It was more than worth it. I reached out to the clouds and stared at a painted sky with hues of orange, purple and pink. It was like no sunrise I had ever seen before. Being ‘grateful‘ is an understatement.
We continued our venture down to a black sand beach to decompress after our long hike. The beach town of El Paredon in Guatemala was created from volcanic ash. We settled down and found refuge in our hammocks under the shady palm trees for seven epic days of surfing, relaxing, and meeting some unforgettable people from all over the world. El Paredon will forever have a special place in my heart.
We continued our travels through Guatemala back to Antigua and onto Lake Atitlan. We kept the exploration alive through the different towns around this massive lake that was surrounded by more dormant volcanoes. The landscape that was laid out in front of us was constantly and beautifully surprising. And the people we met along the way were welcoming. I drank the best coffee ever, ate the most authentic Guatemalan cuisines, and enjoyed every moment of immersing myself in a new culture.
Thank you back Guatemala, I will be back for sure.
If you are inspired to take a stab at this hike as well, this is the only company I would recommend. They were extremely knowledgeable, have rentals of all necessary equipment, great meals, and very experienced guides:
Also, the town of Antigua, as well as neighboring towns, are still recovering from the recent destruction caused by Volcan’ Fuego. If you would like to donate to help the reconstruction and other various needs please follow the separate links below: