Pacaya Volcano, Antigua Guatemala

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  • Pacaya Volcano
    by Waxbag
  • Red-hot lava at the Pacaya Volcano
    Red-hot lava at the Pacaya Volcano
    by Pieter11
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    View from Pacaya
    by Pieter11
  • HasTowelWillTravel's Profile Photo

    A joyful hike up Pacaya

    by HasTowelWillTravel Updated May 23, 2008

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Pacaya's Flows

    A standard item on the "to do" list of anyone visiting Antigua is heading up to Pacaya, one of the three volcanoes that rings the city. It is an active volcano, which adds to the excitement. The drive is about an hour or so away from Antigua, partially between Antigua and Guatemala City. The hike up to the mountain is beautiful, climbing fairly steeply through the forests and small farm plots. You eventually break through the trees to more meadowland, with warnings that state, basically, if you get hurt it's your own fault. You're on a volcano. I like that, a sort of common sense insurance policy.

    The meadow gives way to volcanic sand and rock, which is very sharp and jagged, so watch the step. Depending on the flow amount, you can get close enough to poke sticks into the lava and watch them catch on fire. As you step over the rocks, you can feel the heat from below, and at times it can warm your boot soles and you can see the glow seeping from between the rocks. Spooky. But it is a fun experience, seeing the lava ooze down the mountainside, being that close to the power of nature. Definitely a fun trip.

    As for details, most any guide in Antigua can set you up with a hiking trip. They run daily (sometimes a few times a day), rain or shine. It was about US$7 a person to do the trek, but it varied from company to company... some said as little as US$5, some were closer to US$12. It is a whole afternoon (or morning) trek, so be prepared, and bring good hiking shoes.

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    Volcano Ascent Part II

    by calcaf38 Written Dec 27, 2006

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    When you get to the lava, things change dramatically. Walking becomes perilous, as the surface is irregular and brittle. You keep clilmbing, and after a while the ground gets hot. Your guide might insert his walking stick in a crevice, where it will catch on fire. The wind may be chilly, but the heat from the ground is impressive. It's a bit intimidating, yet a lot of fun. In some holes, you will see the red lava glowing faintly. It's a great experience.

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  • Kindra's Profile Photo

    Volcan Pacaya

    by Kindra Written Jan 16, 2004

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    While the volcanoes Agua, Fuego and Acatenango are directly visible from Antigua, Pacaya (near Guatemala city) is also a very popular option (you can summit Agua but it will be a 5am-9pm ordeal and I suspect it is quite physically challenging). The tour will arrange your transportion to and from Antigua to the National Park where you will hike to the top with a guide. Armed security is found throughout various points on the trail. Horses accompany the hikers most of the way so if you become very tired you can hop on. The hike is 2-3 hours uphill (not that easy) where you will reach a point with great views over the valley below and the volcanic crater (the most active volcano in Guatemala). There you can spend the next 30-60 minutes on a very difficult hike to the very top. We encountered 70 km/hr winds, lots of dust, dirt, slippery rocks but it was a great accomplishment to hit the top and ever funner to litterally "ski" down the slope, screaming all the way.
    Bring lots of water, healthy snacks, a sweater and a good windproof jacket for the windier parts above. A hat and sunglasses (not just for the sun but for the flying volcanic dirt BUT dont bring super good ones as they WILL get scratched). A walking stick would also be useful and/or gloves for the last part when you are summiting practically on your hands and knees.

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  • calcaf38's Profile Photo

    Volcano Ascent Part I

    by calcaf38 Updated Dec 31, 2006

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    Pacaya ascents are a dime a dozen. It would be crazy to reserve in advance from your home country. I paid $10 at the last minute, and I ended up in a small group with people who had booked from Canada with Gap Tours for probably much more.

    The drive to the beginning of the trail is not attractive (about one hour). Water, coffee and snacks are available at the trail house. The trail is delightful: it starts as cloud forest, and it is pretty steep. There might be children offering you to ride on horses. All of a sudden, in the middle of a verdant meadow, you will find a black stream of sharp-edged, cooled lava.

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  • Babzz's Profile Photo

    Climb Volcan Pacaya

    by Babzz Updated Mar 10, 2006

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    Plateau beneath the peak
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    For US$5 you have yourself a half-day climb up Guatemala's most popular volcano. The tourist bus drops you off at the village outside of the entrance to the park, where you buy your entrance ticket (25 quetzales I believe) and some snacks/water/beer if need be. From there it's approximately a 2 hour hike, or so the tour guide told us. Of course, he's been doing this every day for the past 10 years and literally ran up the volcano himself! It got quite strenuous at times, especially near the peak where it was steep and gravely, but definitely worth the climb once we reached the top! Sulpher fumes blocked the view of the crater, but some people claimed they could hear the lava flowing inside. Very cool! The climb down was infinitely easier, more or less skiing on lava rock, fun! I recommend bringing a warm sweater as it gets cold up at the top, lots of water, hat, sunscreen, and some food to replenish your energy. The hike was at a leisurely pace, so when we needed to rest we could sit for a bit, have a snack, etc. Our guide was really friendly too. It was a great experience.

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  • Wear comfy shoes/sunscreen

    by smf834 Written Mar 21, 2009

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    There are many tour companies in Antigua offer you the shuttle service to see Volcan Pacaya. Anywhere from $6 to $12, it's probably easiest to book it through your hotel/hostel, so they'll come directly to the place to pick you up. The ride to the Volcan is about an hour or so, depending on traffic, and dun forget to buckle up, since you'll drive through some uphill/downhill roads and you'll be able to smell the burning rubber from brakes.

    Entrance fee to the park is Q40. After you're parked, you'll be mobbed by the village children that will try to sell you a walking stick for Q5. If you're fit, you can probably won't need it. There's a store that sell food and drinks as well. It's the last bathroom (free) opportunity before the hike. You'll also see a group of local horsemen ready to take you up if you can't hike up the trail. Gradually you'll hike up the trail, and in about 1.2 hour you'll reach a point where you have a great view of the peak of the volcan, and from that point on, you'll be hiking on loose volcan pebbles/rocks. It is the toughest, in my opinion, because it's like walking on an elliptical machine. The view is awesome, and you'll take turn to get pretty close to a stream of flowing lava (if you choose). They won't do the tour to the peak because of safety (it's too bad). Tour will turn back the same way. At the end, the tour guide will thank you for coming along, and help preserve this national park. The tour guide doesn't make much off the park entrance fee, so tip him if you like. The whole trip takes about 6 hours or so. Bus will drop you either at the Parque or your hotel.

    PS: If you stay in Antigua, and would like to hike Volcan Aqua, talk to the tourismo police, and they can escort you there.

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  • anuahs78's Profile Photo

    Volcan Pacaya - Awesome

    by anuahs78 Written Dec 23, 2007

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    Climbing Volcan Pacaya was one of the coolest things I have ever done. We booked through a company called Old Town Outfitters. It was a little bit more expensive than the other tour operators but our tour guide was great and he fixed us dinner when we finished the hike. It was a awesome way to get to know the other people on the trip (we were the only Americans so it was cool to visit with the other travelers). As for the actual hike, it took about 1.5 hours to climb to the top. We went at sunset so when we got to the top you could see the sun setting over the other 3 volcanos surrounding Antigua. All I can say is - absolutely beautiful.

    When we got the the lava rock our guide informed us that we would be walking over it to get a close up look at the running lava. I recommend bringing VERY tough shoes (fresh lava rock is sharp), gloves, a jacket (it's cold at the top) and a flashlight. We ended up getting about 3 feet away from the lava (you could smell melting rubber as some peoples shoes were melting).

    All in all the hiking trip was a little dangerous but I would do it again in a heartbeat. Volcan Pacaya is a "do not miss" while in Guatemala.

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  • IngaRita's Profile Photo

    Walk in an active volcano

    by IngaRita Written Jun 29, 2006

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    Our guide
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    I took a morning trip to Volcan de Pacaya. It was about 1.5 hour drive from Antigua. We made a reservation with Colonial tours and I think it was about $10. I guide brings you the whole way. Its a good hike. Kind of steep in the beginning and on concrete. Then it opens up interesting landscape. It was fun walking on the dried lava. It got chilly while we were at the top so bring a jacket. And there was no food at the top so bring a lunch. There is a little stand where you can buy bread, soda, bananas at the bottom where you start and where you buy your ticket to climb. It was a great thing to do for half a day.

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  • Pieter11's Profile Photo

    Volcan Pacaya

    by Pieter11 Updated Nov 29, 2007

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    Red-hot lava at the Pacaya Volcano
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    A nice daytrip you can make from Antigua is a trip to the Volcano Pacaya. This volcano is situated north from the city and it takes about 75 minutes to get there by bus. Pacaya is a nice volcano to visit: it is pretty easy to reach it and the chance you see red-hot lava here is reasonable.

    In Antigua you'll see lots of little touragencies who organise trips to the volcano. Normally two options are offered: one trip departing in the morning and one in the late afternoon. Tours will take about 6 hours in total: 2,5 hours for the returntrip by bus, about the same time climbing up and down the last part of the volcano (a pretty tough climb) and the remaining hour can be spent on top of and around the lava in the crater.

    The tour is easy, not expensive and pretty exciting. For more information, check out my Pacaya-page...

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  • bminorca's Profile Photo

    Pacaya Volcano

    by bminorca Written Dec 25, 2005

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    The Active Vent
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    A trip to Pacaya Volcano is well worth. It is located 30km south of the center of Guatemala City and an hour drive from Antigua Guatemala. Many of the travel agencies in Antigua Guatemala can arrange a trip which includes the transportation and a licensed guide. You need to be physically fit as it takes about 2 to 2.5 hours to climb to the top of the highly active volcano. The published elevation is 2560m, but it varies from year to year, according to the building and destroying volcanic processes. The condition on the top is constantly changing. What you see will be most likely different from the photos I took.

    Apply sunblock lotion before climbing. Bring drinking water and extra clothes with you as you will sweat a lot and the wind is usually strong on the top. Don't forget your sunglasses.

    There are usually two trips every day - one in the morning and another in the afternoon. Less people go in the morning as it may be cold and so foggy up there that you end up seeing nothing. But you'd better check with the travel agency before booking as it may also depend on the season and weather.

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  • stevepreece's Profile Photo

    Volcan Pacaya

    by stevepreece Written Oct 23, 2004

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    A Grumpy Volcano

    Volcan Pacay is a half day trip from Antigua.
    You simply get a guide and bus to the volcano and then walk the volcano. Its easy to begin with, nice track through woods. This all ends when the top is reached, an hour or so of scrambling up loose volcanic ash that gets progressively hotter. top is great if its not cloudless and the volcan is grumpy enough to be spitting lava. We were. Going down is a fast controlled slide and extremely good fun.

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  • trek06's Profile Photo

    Sunset Tour Volcan Pacaya

    by trek06 Written Apr 27, 2007

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    Volcan Pacaya Up Close
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    Found a sunset tour of Volcan Pacaya that left from the central park in Antigua Guatemala at 2 PM and returned about 9:00 PM. I'm sure it was the best $7 I have ever spent. Some people brought marshmellows to roast and share.

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  • Antigua Volcano and Thermal Bath!

    by gabymsowa Written Nov 15, 2010

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    I found a great trip regarding a volcano hike and a thermal waters and spa bath, this was amazing and I truly recommend it for everyone!.. it was excellent. I found it on a website called www.aroundantigua.com. Here I leave the link to the tour I am talking about: http://www.aroundantigua.com/todo/spatour.htm
    AMAZING!!

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  • la_beba's Profile Photo

    Antigua's Volcanos!!!!!!!

    by la_beba Updated Feb 10, 2005

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    Volcanos are highlights indeed for Antigua. Looming twelve thousand feet over the city, the volcano Agua rests in century old dormancy. In the shadow of Agua some miles distant is the volcano Pacaya, lava covered and perpetually active.
    Climbing to the top of the Agua volcano just outside of Antigua can be at first miserable and frightening, but then exhilirating once you grow accustom to the thin air. Looking down on the valleys below is a definite highlight of a trip to Antigua Guatemala.
    Check out my travelogue "Volcanos"

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  • Waxbag's Profile Photo

    Climb an Active Volcano, Volan Pacaya

    by Waxbag Written Jan 2, 2009

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    Near Guatemala City is the very active Volcano Pacaya. Pacaya is a strata volcano that was formed 23,000 years ago. It has been continually erupting since 1965. It is an unpredictable volcano that can put out small puffs of harmless steam one moment and violent explosions that can hurl bombs up to 12kms away the next. Tours leave daily from Antigua de Guatemala to climb the volcano and reach within inches of the lava flows. In some cases you can actually walk on top of very recent flows. Don't melt your shoes!

    See the video at Climbing Volcan Pacaya

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