The Volcan Acatenango hike, otherwise known as the Acatenango volcano hike, or simply the Acatenango hike, is easily one of the best travel experiences you can have in Guatemala. A superb volcano hiking trail leads you to the base of an active, erupting Volcan Fuego. This is where you’ll gawp and watch in awe at nature’s fireworks during a glorious sunset and into the night. The Acatenango volcano overnight hike then includes a sublime sunrise enjoyed from the summit of Acatenango, with Volcan Fuego huffing and puffing in the background.

Hiking Acatenango sounds awesome, right? It certainly is, but, time and time again, we’ve heard travellers experience two primary issues during the Volcan Acatenango hike. First, being unprepared. Basically, not knowing exactly what they’re getting themselves into and not having the right gear. Second, overcrowded tour groups. The Volcan Acatenango hike is so popular, that the Antigua-based tour companies have the freedom to overbook. We’ve heard ridiculous group sizes of 40 people!

In this guide, we’re going to prepare you properly for the Volcan Acatenango hike. Hiking details, what to expect, the itinerary, trail description, what to wear, what to pack, safety, bonus tips – we’ll cover everything you need to know.

But, most importantly, we’re going to reveal a new local company, based outside of Antigua, in La Soledad, at the base of Volcan Acatenango. Their groups are much smaller, their service is an improvement on the norm and their guides are genuine locals who are very experienced. So, even if you ignore all of our preparatory advice, this new tour company will take care of you, guaranteeing you an epic Volcan Acatenango hike.

Volcan Fuego at sunrise, as seen from the Acatenango summit
Volcan Fuego at sunrise, as seen from the Acatenango summit

Volcan Acatenango Hike Preview

Before we talk about the best tour companies, what to pack or any other details, let’s discuss the Volcan Acatenango hike itself. Many travellers we met were really confused about the actual details of the hikes involved. Assuming you’re interested in the overnight hike (we discuss the day hike option here also), overall, there are potentially four distinct stages or hikes over two days, including:

  • Stage 1 (Day 1): Hiking from the main entrance in La Soledad to your Volcan Acatenango base camp. The location of your base camp depends on which tour company you choose.
  • Stage 2 (Day 1): Hiking from your base camp to the Volcan Fuego viewpoint for sunset and to watch the eruptions once it’s dark, and then back to base camp. The viewpoint is around 500 metres or so from Volcan Fuego, because, well, this thing is very active and you shouldn’t get any closer!
  • Stage 3 (Day 2): Hiking from your base camp to the summit of Volcan Acatenango for sunrise, and back to base camp for breakfast.
  • Stage 4 (Day 2): Returning from base camp to the main entrance in La Soledad.

What we’ve listed is the full shebang when it comes to the Volcan Acatenango hiking experience. We highly recommend doing all of these stages as part of your hiking adventure to maximise your experience and to avoid any FOMO. But, you have the option to not do all of these stages.

We hope you find this guide helpful. For other fantastic Guatemala hikes, check out the Xela to Lake Atitlan 3 Day Trek, Rostro Maya (Indian Nose), Volcan Santa Maria and Volcan Santo Tomas from Fuentes Georginas. Or, check out 17 Best Hikes in Guatemala.

Volcan Acatenango Overnight Hiking Options

Not all four stages of the Volcan Acatenango hike are mandatory, so many travellers going on the same tour, will have a different hiking itinerary. The first and last stages, which involves hiking to your Volcan Acatenango base camp, and then back down the next day, are the only mandatory options.

It’s totally up to you, whether you hike to Volcan Fuego or do the Acatenango sunrise summit hike. Depending on your choice, your hiking itinerary could look like this:

  • Hiking Option 1: All four stages – yes, bring it on, let’s see and experience it all!
  • Hiking Option 2: Stage 1 (Day 1), Stage 2 (Day 1) and Stage 4 (Day 2) – some travellers skip Stage 3, which is the Volcan Acatenango sunrise summit because they’re usually too tired from the first day. We urge you to set that alarm clock and get your butt up for sunrise from the summit – it’s incredible!
  • Hiking Option 3: Stage 1 (Day 1), Stage 3 (Day 2) and Stage 4 (Day 2) – some travellers skip the out and back option to Volcan Fuego for sunset to save money, or, again, because they’re too tired. Again, we highly recommend that you save your pennies and summon all of your energy to complete this stage as it’s the most magical part of the whole experience.
  • Hiking Option 4: Stage 1 (Day 1) and Stage 4 (Day 2) – this involves just hiking to base camp on Acatenango and then back down the next day. You’ll miss out on both an amazing sunset and sunrise, so we don’t recommend this bare-bone option.
Volcan Fuego erupts
Volcan Fuego erupts

Why Are Their Different Volcan Acatenango Hiking Options?

Tour companies have adapted their tours to suit the needs and abilities of the broad spectrum of travellers in their groups. Basically, it all has to do with money and fitness, or, both. There are options, which involve less hiking, which makes the tour cheaper and less physically demanding.

How much does it cost to hike Volcan Acatenango?

Prices vary considerably from company to company. But, here are the usual prices and breakdown of main costs:

  • Stage 1, 3 and 4: hiking to Volcan Acatenango base camp and the summit for sunrise: approx. 300–450Q ($40–60USD)
  • Stage 2: hiking to Volcan Fuego from your Acatenango base camp: approx. 200–300Q ($25–40USD)
  • Park Entrance Fee: 50Q ($7USD)

It’s cheaper to skip the Volcan Fuego out and back hike, as this stage adds approx. 200–300Q to the price. Plus, hiking to Volcan Fuego is really tough, especially after already hiking to Acatenango. The Volcan de Fuego hike is steep, slippery and half of it you’ll be doing in the dark when returning to base camp.

But, keep in mind, depending on the position of your base camp, you may not have great views of Volcan Fuego. So, if you skip this hike, there’s a risk that you don’t get to watch or experience the active Volcan Fuego, at all!

In terms of good value for money, it doesn’t incur any extra costs to summit Acatenango for sunrise. So, many travellers are happy to just hike to base camp and then do the summit sunrise hike the next morning.

Dan and our guide, Rene, take in sunrise from La Meseta, which is the viewpoint for Volcan Fuego
Dan and our guide, René, take in sunrise from La Meseta, which is the viewpoint for Volcan Fuego

Acatenango Volcano Hike Difficulty

Hiking all four stages of the Volcan Acatenango hike is a thrilling, but physically demanding and tiring experience.

In particular, hiking to Acatenango base camp and Volcan Fuego on Day 1 requires a huge effort. So, even though it’s included in the base price (approx. 300–450Q), many travellers will decline the Acatenango summit sunrise the next day and opt for a lie-in or to watch sunrise from base camp! It is possible to do so if your base camp position allows. But, even so, we still recommend you watch sunrise from the summit of Acatenango for the best experience.

Unfortunately, due to illness during the hike, many travellers may be unable to complete some stages. At 3,976m, Volcan Acatenango is a high-altitude hiking endeavour, and if you haven’t acclimatised properly, it’s not uncommon to feel unwell. Altitude sickness has caused many a traveller with the intention to hike all stages, to struggle to base camp, and struggle some more waiting to descend the next day.

Beck ascends Volcan Acatenango
Beck ascends Volcan Acatenango

Volcan Acatenango Overnight Hiking Details

To show you the difficulty of the Volcan Acatenango overnight hike, we’ve broken down the hiking specs for each of the four stages. So you know exactly what each hike entails, have a quick read of the distance, time and accumulated elevation gain. We hope you find the interactive maps helpful in getting a sense of what the hike is all about.

  • Type: Overnight hike with 4 stages, i.e. 4 distinct hikes (2 hikes per day)
  • Distance: 19.1km
  • Time: 12.5–18 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 2,310m
  • Accumulated elevation loss: 1,300m
  • Difficulty: Hard

Day 1 Hiking Breakdown

  • Type: One-way + Out & Back
  • Distance: 11.1km
  • Time: 8.5–11.5 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 2,070m
  • Difficulty: Hard

Day 1: Hike 1 – Volcan Acatenango Hike (Ascent)

  • Type: One-way
  • Distance: 6.3km
  • Time: 4.5–6 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 1,300m
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Trailhead: La Soledad
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Day 1: Hike 2 – Volcan de Fuego Hike

  • Type: Out & Back
  • Distance: 4.8km
  • Time: 4–5.5 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 670m
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Trailhead: Expedicion Volcan Acatenango Base Camp
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Day 2 Hiking Breakdown

  • Type: Out & Back + One-way
  • Distance: 8km
  • Time: 4–6.5 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 240m
  • Accumulated elevation loss: 1,300m
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Day 2: Hike 1 – Volcan Acatenango Sunrise Summit

  • Type: Out & Back
  • Distance: 1.7km
  • Time: 2–3 hours (waiting for sunrise)
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 240m
  • Difficulty: Easy–Moderate
  • Trailhead: Expedicion Volcan Acatenango Base Camp
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Day 2: Hike 2 – Volcan Acatenango Hike (Descent)

  • Type: One-way
  • Distance: 6.3km
  • Time: 2–3.5 hours
  • Accumulated elevation loss: 1,300m
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead: Expedicion Volcan Acatenango Base Camp
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Volcan Acatenango Day Hike Option

It is possible to hike Volcan Acatenango as just a day hike. This would involve just hiking to the summit of Acatenango. Of course, this is better than not hiking Volcan Acatenango at all! The Acatenango summit hike is still an awesome hike on its own. This might be a suitable option for you if you’re short on time.

But, if you can spare an extra day, you should forget about doing Volcan Acatenango as a day hike. That’s because hiking Acatenango as a day hike forfeits the opportunity to experience and enjoy the best of Acatenanago and Fuego. By doing a day hike, you’d miss the epic sunset from the Volcan Fuego viewpoint and miss seeing the eruptions up close, at night. You’d also miss out on sunrise from Acatenango summit, which again, is an awesome experience.

But, each to their own. Many tour companies in Antigua offer Acatenango as a day hike. So, this is an option, if you must. The usual itinerary looks something like this:

  • 5:00–5:15am: Hotel pick-up or meet in office in Antigua
  • 5:15am–6:30am: Drive to La Soledad – the trailhead of Volcan Acatenango
  • 6:30–11:30am: Hike to Acentango summit
  • 11:30am–1:00pm: Arrive at Acatenango summit and have lunch
  • 1:00–4:00pm: Hike back down Acatenango
  • 4:00–5:00pm: Drive back to Antigua
Farmlands surround the track leading to Volcan Acatenango

Volcan Acatenango Sunrise and Sunset Day Hike Options

It’s now possible to hike Volcan Acatenango as a day hike to arrive at the summit for either sunrise or sunset. This is made possible by a local tour company in La Soledad called Expedicion Volcan Acatenango.

As a new company, launching in late 2021, Expedicion Volcan Acatenango is breaking all the norms when it comes to experiencing Volcan Acatenango. Unlike any other tour company, Expedicion Volcan Acatenango offer a day hike option for sunrise and sunset.

For the Acatenango sunrise summit option, you’ll be picked up from your accommodation in Antigua at 11pm and provided breakfast in the morning. For the Acatenango sunset summit option, you’ll be picked up from your accommodation in Antigua at 11am and provided dinner before you descend. Each tour costs 350Q ($45USD) per adult.

Of course, these tour options don’t include hiking to the viewpoint of Volcan Fuego. But, during each tour, you’ll catch a small window where it is dark enough, so that can you can experience watching Volcan Fuego erupting during the night. This holds true just prior to sunrise, and, of course, just after sunset. Views of Volcan Fuego from the Acatenango summit are superb, so this way, these day hike options deliver on all the best parts of doing an overnight hike.

The best part is, you can pack lightly, just for a day hike excursion. But, despite just being a one-day hiking tour, you’ll have to be prepared to do quite a bit of hiking in the dark.

Beck enjoys sunrise from the Acatenango summit

Hiking Volcan Acatenango Without A Guide

Personally, we didn’t meet any travellers who hiked Volcan Acatenango without a guide. Of course, we’ve read many guides online that claim it is possible to hike Acatenango without a guide. We’ve even read the guides of bloggers who have hiked and camped Acatenango in the past, without a guide.

Although this seems a cool and thrifty option, according to the local guides we spoke to, this option is no longer possible. Sadly, there were a group of six tourists who died on Acatenango in 2017 from hypothermia when hiking independently. For the reason of tourist safety, it’s no longer possible to hike without a guide. The municipality of the area has forbidden it.

If you get to the park entrance ticket office and you are without a guide, they will not let you continue. Apparently, this new rule has been in place since 2020. But, never mind. The Volcan Acatenango hike is an experience made so much more convenient and easier with a tour company.

So, let’s talk about what the tour companies actually offer and how some of them are better than others. We’ll also talk more about Expedicion Volcan Acatenango – a brand spanking new tour company that’s breaking the mould when it comes to hiking Volcan Acatenango.

Rene passes Dan a leaf and discusses its medicinal value
René teaches us bout the medicinal value of the plants on track

Volcan Acatenango Tour Company Similarities

Honestly speaking, hiking Volcan Acatenango can be quite a similar experience, whichever tour company you go with. You’ll experience the same great hiking, a phenomenal sunrise and sunset, and watch an erupting volcano! Of course, there are some small but significant differences that can make or break your experience. But for now, let’s look at the main similarities provided by reputable tour companies.

  • Transportation: a comfortable shuttle will take you from Antigua to the trailhead of Acatenango and back to Antigua. They may also include pickup from your accommodation to their office before you leave for the hike.
  • Camping Gear: at the very least, a tent and sleeping bag will be provided. Because the big companies have their campsites already established and set up, the camping gear will be waiting for you at base camp. So, in most cases, you don’t even have to carry your tent or sleeping bag! Some companies offer cabins, so they will already have a sleeping bag and mattress waiting for you – even better!
  • Hiking Gear: any hiking gear like trekking poles or warm clothes such as gloves, beanies (hats) and down jackets are often provided at an additional cost. But, this is still much cheaper than buying your own gear, if you really only plan on using it for this hike during your Central America trip.
  • Food: it’s standard that you’ll help to carry some food and water up to base camp, but all this food is included in the package and prepared and cooked for you.

Sure, most companies provide similar essentials, so that you’re generally taken care of. But, there are definitely some differences between what the tour companies offer. This can make your Volcan Acatenango hike an outstanding one, or, a regretful and uncomfortable one.

Volcan Acatenango Tour Company Differences

As you’d expect, all of the Antigua based tour companies claim their Volcan Acatenango packages are the best. With so many options, it can be overwhelming to know which tour company is best for you. And, of course, it can be subjective to what you want and need from a tour provider.

But, let’s distinguish some of the main differences between the companies to help you figure out which company you’re most likely to enjoy. Make sure you also quiz the tour companies about these things and the sticking points that are most important to you.

The Main Differences

  • Group Size: some companies have upwards of 40 people in a single group! We can’t imagine anything worse than hiking in a group that size. Sure, if you’re a solo backpacker, you might not want to hike in a tiny group. But, we think a group size of 10–15 people is more appropriate.
  • Sleeping Setup: this is where the quality of the package can really vary between the companies. Some will squeeze you into a shelter, whereas some provide just a tent to sleep in. At least the tents are private, but they won’t keep you very warm at night. As mentioned before, the best companies provide a cabin!
  • Volcan de Fuego Hike: some bare-bone companies do not offer the additional Volcan Fuego hike. This is one of the highlights of the Volcan Acatenango experience, so make sure the company can deliver on this!
  • Exact Location of Base Camp: most of the south facing base camps provide an exceptional view of Volcan Fuego, whilst also being a fantastic place to watch sunrise. But, some base camps do not offer either views of Volcan Fuego, nor is it a good place for sunrise. It’s easy enough to hike to the summit for sunrise, so this isn’t a concern. However, you’ll 100% want to be able to sit back at camp, relax, and watch Volcan Fuego do its thing.
  • Food Quality: we noticed some companies paled in comparison with the quality and quantity of food on offer.
  • Supporting Locals: most of the Antigua based companies will claim they support locals and give to the communities around Volcan Acatenango. But, this can be all talk, no trousers. What about the actual communities living around and at the base of Volcan Acatenango, like La Soledad?
A large group of people sit and relax at a Mirador
Expect to see large groups along the way

The Best Volcan Acatenango Tour

Until recently, all of the companies offering Volcan Acatenango tours have been based in Antigua. And, this makes sense, given that’s where the tourists are. But, it’s really refreshing to see a new tour company based in La Soledad, at the foot of the volcano. This company is run by genuine Acetanango locals, living in these communities, who provide work and opportunity to people in their town. This is just one reason to choose Expedicion Volcan Acatenango, and why we recommend them.

Other than genuinely helping the local community of La Soledad, there are many other reasons why you should hike Acatenango Volcano with Expedicion Volcan Acatenango. To keep it simple, let’s look at the main differences that separate this company from the rest.

Beck, our guide from Expedicion Volcan Acatenango, Rene, and Dan before descending the volcano
Beck, our guide from Expedicion Volcan Acatenango, René, and Dan before descending

Group Size

When Beck and I hiked with Expedicion Volcan Acatenango, we were meant to hike in a group of 4. But, due to an earthquake the night before, the other couple pulled out. So, we were thrilled to essentially have a private tour. Now, we don’t mean to brag about this, as this occurrence is unlikely. The day after, the company had a group of 10. So we were just lucky. But, it shows how small the group sizes can be, compared to the Antigua-based over popularised mass group tours of 40 people.

The maximum group size for Expedicion Volcan Acatenango is 15 people. Given they are a relatively new company, in early 2022, average group sizes vary from 6–10 people. This means the guides can offer a much better service with fewer people to attend to, ensuring a better experience. Of course, this company will only grow and become more popular. So join one of their tours now before they’re averaging closer to 15 people!

Sleeping Setup

One of the best parts of the Expedicion Volcan Acatenango hiking experience is the sleeping setup. Forget about freezing your butt off in a tent or being crammed into a shelter with large groups. At their base camp, Expedicion Volcan Acatenango offers three newly built cabins.

Each cabin is fitted with comfortable five-inch mattresses, high-quality sleeping bags and blankets. The best part is, the bamboo, aluminium-roof cabin prevents you from feeling the cold weather and wind. So, you’ll be warm enough inside the cabin even without the blankets!

Sure, the cabins aren’t as sizeable as the shelters provided by other companies. At full capacity (15 people), it’s five people in each cabin, which will be a snug fit. If that makes you feel uncomfortable, don’t worry, Expedicion Volcan Acatenango can provide you with a private North Face tent. You won’t be as warm, but if you happen to be on a busier tour, it’s an option for privacy. The tent option is also slightly cheaper at 325Q, compared with the normal price of 350Q.

Volcan de Fuego Hike

Like most other companies, Expedicion Volcan Acatenango offers the guided Volcan Fuego hike. The price actually depends on the number of people going with you! For three people or less, it’s 300Q each, and for four people or more, it’s 250Q each. We can’t recommend doing the Volcan Fuego component of the Volcan Acatenango hike enough, it’s just immense!

Because the guides from Expedicion Volcan Acatenango are true locals, they know the trails really well. Our guide, René, was able to take us on quite a few shortcuts, which helped us save time and energy during the Volcan Fuego out and back hike from base camp.

The Volcan de Fuego hike allows closeup views of this erupting volcano

Base Camp Location

The location of the Expedicion Volcan Acatenango base camp is simply amazing for watching Volcan Fuego. Perched on the south-facing side of Volcan Acatenango, you’ll have unimpeded views of an erupting Volcan Fuego from literally just outside your cabin.

This means, that if you decline the option to hike to the viewpoint for Volcan Fuego, for whatever reason, you’ll still have unrivalled views of it from base camp. Simply sit back with your wine or hot chocolate and marshmallows next to the campfire, and marvel at the erupting volcano.

Admittedly, from this base camp, you cannot watch the sunrise from the cabin area itself. This really shouldn’t matter though, as you should do the Volcan Acatenango sunrise summit hike for the best sunrise experience.

But, if you’re unwell or can’t do that hike for whatever reason, you won’t get to watch sunrise from the base camp, like you can from some other base camps. Of course, once the sun has risen, you can experience a bit of a delayed sunrise event. On a clear day, you can see part of the Pacific Ocean and Lake Atitlan, from Expedicion Volcan Acatenango’s base camp!

It’s also worth noting that this base camp is really quiet and serene. There are only two other companies set up on this side of Volcan Acatenango, including Tropicana and we’re unsure of the name of the other company. In contrast, the other main base camp is much busier, with many companies like Wicho & Charlie’s, OX Expeditions and CA Travelers, with bigger groups, all based around there.

Beck eats breakfast at base camp with Volcan Fuego erupting in the background

Food Quality

The food provided by our guide, René, was delicious, generous, high-quality and had a real home-cooked vibe about it! Lunch on the first day was prepared in La Soledad by René’s family so it was fresh and tasty.

Similar to the other companies, you’ll be provided three meals (lunch on Day 1, dinner on Day 2 and breakfast on Day 3). Lunch was fried chicken, noodles and salad. Dinner was spaghetti with a tomato sauce, red wine and hot chocolate when watching Volcan Fuego erupt from the viewpoint. Breakfast was porridge, jam on bread, an apple and a coffee when waiting for sunrise at the summit. You’ll also be given a snack bag that has cookies and oat biscuits.

Even when we finished the hike, René invited us into their office, which is only around 100 metres from the trailhead. He then fed us watermelon and coffee. This was such a nice touch! There are also vegetarian and vegan options if required.

Lunch on Day 1 includes fried chicken, noodles and salad
Lunch on Day 1
Booking with Expedicion Volcan Acatenango

Because their agency is located in the village of La Soledad, next to the main entrance of the Acatenango volcano, it’s unlikely you’ll book at their office. Plus, they don’t have any online booking or website currently.

The best way to book a tour with Expedicion Volcan Acatenango is to message them directly on WhatsApp (+50233262454 or +50248347003). René, speaks excellent English and is quick to respond (unless he’s guiding a tour, his brother-in-law, Alexander will get back to you shortly). You can also contact them on Facebook or Instagram. Don’t be fooled by their lack of marketing and low social followings compared to other companies. They are only a new company, and those things will grow with time!

If you want to talk to someone in Antigua about this tour, head to the A Viajar Guatemala (Travel to Guatemala) office at 7a Avenida Norte No. 20 Antigua, Guatemala. The friendly owner, Alexander, can explain this tour in more depth and even book the tour for you, with Expedicion Volcan Acatenango.

Other Volcan Acatenango Tour Companies

We highly recommend Expedicion Volcan Acatenango as your tour company of choice for hiking Acatenango and Fuego. Yes, they are new to the scene, but their guides are locals and know the volcanoes very well.

We’re sure you’ve heard about some of the other Antigua based companies that run Acatenango tours. Before arriving in Antigua, we had looked into these companies. To be honest, we would have chosen one of them, because we hadn’t yet heard of Expedicion Volcan Acatenango. After all, they are still a new and unknown quantity. Thankfully, a traveller we met at Semuc Champey highly recommended Expedicion Volcan Acatenango. Bless you Alex from Mexico!

Anyway, we don’t want to go too in-depth in reviewing the other companies because we haven’t experienced them firsthand. But, we can discuss what these companies offer, which can help you decide if they’ll be a good or bad fit for you.

Wicho & Charlie’s

  • Price: 450Q/person (+50Q entrance fee)
  • Maximum Group Size: 15
  • Sleeping Setup: Shelter
  • Optional Volcan Fuego Hike: Yes – 200Q/person
  • Food Quality: Very good (all food is vegan)
  • Base Camp Location: Good views of Volcan Fuego

This tour company had come recommended by a trusted tour operator in Xela. He vouched for the company’s quality. Although the price is a little higher than average, their group sizes are relatively small and they provide a decent sleeping setup that shouldn’t be too overcrowded.

Soy Tours (Gilmar Soy)

  • Price: 300Q/person (+50Q entrance fee)
  • Maximum Group Size: 15
  • Sleeping Setup: Tents
  • Optional Volcan Fuego Hike: Yes – 200Q/person
  • Food Quality: Good
  • Base Camp Location: Very good views of Volcan Fuego

Soy Tours was another company that had come recommended to us by a different tour operator working out of Lake Atitlan and Antigua. The other tour operator mentioned that Soy Tours is a company with a social conscience and one that gives generously to the community.

Soy Tours offer one of the best prices in Antigua, but for that, you’ll have to battle the cold in a tent instead of a shelter or cabin and carry up your sleeping bag. Otherwise, Soy Tours have small group sizes and a solid base camp, so they could possibly be the best Antigua based company to go with.

CA Travelers

  • Price: 350Q/person (+50Q entrance fee)
  • Maximum Group Size: 15
  • Sleeping Setup: Tents
  • Optional Volcan Fuego Hike: No
  • Food Quality: Very good
  • Base Camp Location: Good views of Volcan Fuego

Another decent budget option is the package offered by CA Travelers. At 350Q/person, the price is very reasonable considering you’ll have fantastic food, a small group size and really nice views from the base camp. But, the biggest drawback is that there’s no add-on to hike to Volcan Fuego. For this reason alone, we can’t recommend you go with CA Travelers. Plus, you’ll also be battling the cold in a tent.

OX Expeditions

  • Price: $89USD (685Q/person) (+50Q entrance fee)
  • Maximum Group Size: 20–30
  • Sleeping Setup: Tents
  • Optional Volcan Fuego Hike: Yes – $30USD (230Q/person)
  • Food Quality: Very good
  • Base Camp Location: Good views of Volcan Fuego

OX Expeditions are the old guys on the block, running the Volcan Acatenango tours for the longest. This means they charge the most. Yes, the views of Volcan Fuego from their base camp are apparently excellent. But, we can’t get our head around why you’d spend more to be in a bigger group, sleep in a tent and have to carry all your camping gear up.

Similarly, Old Town Outfitters is another premium-tour type company offering pricier tours that can be customised and tailored. But, similar to OX Expeditions, we question the value.

Tropicana

  • Price: 300Q (+50Q entrance fee)
  • Maximum Group Size: 30–40
  • Sleeping Setup: Shelter
  • Optional Volcan Fuego Hike: No
  • Food Quality: Okay
  • Base Camp Location: Very good views of Volcan Fuego

Popular with backpackers and hostel-goers, Tropicana has a name for itself as being a budget-friendly tour operator heading to Volcan Acatenango. Boasting a sociable atmosphere, this is a great tour to do if you’d like to meet other travellers. Plus, being perched just below Expedicion Volcan Acatenango, their views of Volcan Fuego from base camp are also excellent.

But, the group size can be huge and if that’s the case, you’ll be squeezed into the shelters like sardines.

Typical Volcan Acatenango Trek Itinerary with Antigua-Based Companies

Despite there being subtle differences between the main tour companies in Antigua, hiking Acatenango Volcano in Guatemala follows a fairly similar itinerary. Here’s what you can expect from hiking Acatenango, whichever company you choose:

Day 1:

  • 7:00–8:00am: Meet at the tour company office and arrange hiking/camping gear and food
  • 8:00–9:00am: Private shuttle from Antigua to La Soledad
  • 9:00–1:00pm: Ascend Volcan Acatenango
  • 1:00–1:30pm: Lunch
  • 1:30–3:00pm: Hike to base camp
  • 3:00–4:30pm: Free time
  • 4:30–9:00pm: Volcan Fuego sunset hike to viewpoint to watch eruptions up close
  • 9:00pm onwards: Dinner, campfire, watch Volcan Fuego erupt

Day 2:

  • 4:00–5:30am: Volcan Acatenango sunrise summit
  • 5:30–6:15am: Watch sunrise
  • 6:15–7:00am: Return from Acatenango summit to base camp
  • 7:00–8:00am: Breakfast and pack up gear
  • 8:00–11:00am: Descend Volcan Acatenango
  • 11:00–12:00am: Private shuttle from La Soledad to Antigua
Sunrise over volcanoes in Guatemala

Expedicion Volcan Acatenango Trek Itinerary Differences

Compared with the Antigua-based Volcan Acatenango tour companies, the trekking itinerary differs slightly when hiking with Expedicion Volcan Acatenango. Because their office is based in La Soledad, they will organise a shuttle service from Antigua to La Soledad. The pickup time from your accommodation in Antigua is approx. 8:30am. Conveniently, their office is located just a few minutes walk away from the trailhead!

In terms of storing your belongings, that you don’t need for the hike, you have two options. You can either keep your extra belongings in storage at your Antigua-based accommodation. Otherwise, you can take all of your stuff to the Expedicion Volcan Acatenango office in La Soledad.

They’re happy to store your belongings during the hike and can provide a spare rucksack if needed. But, we’d recommend having your stuff organised before going to La Soledad. It would be a pain in the backside for your group if you’re taking ages to sort all your stuff upon arrival in La Soledad.

Otherwise, the trek itinerary runs in parallel with the other tour companies. Perhaps, one option that’s not really on offer is being able to hire a porter (200Q) to carry your belongings up. That’s one thing we liked about Expedicion Volcan Acatenango – they don’t pamper or mollycoddle. With all the camping gear already up at base camp, your bag will just be moderately heavy from your water, food, warm clothes, essential toiletries and equipment (check out our Volcan Acatenango packing list).

Once you finish the hike, the shuttle will take you back to Antigua from La Soledad. They’ll even drop you back at your accommodation in Antigua.

Dan stands by a red van in La Soledad
Our shuttle service picked us up from Antigua and dropped us off at the Expedicion Volcan Acatenango office in La Soledad

What to Expect Before Hiking Volcan Acatenango

With Expedicion Volcan Acatenango, our guide, René, was in constant communication with us. He ensured we were prepared and organised with everything we needed. Specifically, Rene lent us a rucksack to store our belongings, provided trekking poles (40Q) and gloves. It’s also possible to hire wooden sticks for only 10Q. At 8:30am, we were picked up, and driven straight to La Soledad.

In early 2022, at their site in La Soledad, they are building a restaurant and accommodation. Their plan is to eventually expand their services to provide a convenient place to stay before and after the hike.

Once in their humble office space/house, you’ll be greeted by René’s family. If you’re lucky, they might even put a pot of coffee on for you. There was a lovely atmosphere meeting the guide’s family and being immersed in their world. They’ll also provide you with your lunch and snacks for the trip, that you’ll pack in your rucksack.

In terms of water, you’ll need to carry 4L. They suggest 2L of drinking water for Day 1, 1L of drinking water for Day 2, and the third litre you give to them at night for cooking. Personally, Beck and I carried 5L, which admittedly, I got through during the trip; although, Beck didn’t. It did make our rucksacks heavier and the ascent harder having extra weight, but that’s better than running out of water on a hike!

Volcan Acatenango Trail Description

Finally, the fun and exciting stuff! We’ll talk about the actual four stages of the Volcan Acatenango hike to give you a little taster!

Ascending Volcan Acatenango to Base Camp (Stage 1)

At around 10am, Beck, René and I set off for the Volcan Acatenango hike. We’d been dreaming about this moment for ages, so we were pumped to get moving. The initial section is a gradual ascent up slippery volcanic sand and rock. You’ll pass by farmland and the locals working the fields. Views of mountain ranges and volcanoes become apparent as you climb higher.

You’ll soon pass a surprisingly bustling area of cafes and food vendors accommodating to the hundreds of hungry hikers, exhausted from the previous night’s experience. With lots of energy, we continued on to the national park entrance. Here, you’ll fill out a form and pay your entrance fee (50Q). Shortly after, you’ll notice a fork in the track. With Expedicion Volcan Acatenango and Tropicana tour companies, you’ll follow right. The views from the track to basecamp are simply superb.

Dan stands next to the official sign for the park entrance
National Park entrance

We’d read online about a ‘red track’ and ‘green track’. Apparently, the ‘green track’ is the trail heading left and has superior views to the ‘red track’ leading to the right. To set the record straight, there’s no acknowledgement of any coloured track at the national park entrance, nor did our guide have any idea about these coloured tracks. Rest assured, the track leading to the right provides extraordinary views throughout your ascent and descent!

Your surroundings soon change as you continue your ascent. The dry farmlands make way for lush tropical oak forest. The trail is winding and steep, but shaded, which helps you from overheating. At around 12:45pm, we were glad of a rest at a designated lunch spot with a small makeshift cafe and Mirador.

The Second Half of Ascending Volcan Acatenango

After lunch, you’ll continue the steep climb towards base camp. Panoramic views of the Guatemalan highlands and huge volcanoes dotted around Lake Atitlan emerge. Another ecosystem transition occurs as you swap oak forest for cloud forest at around 2,500–2,700m. This type of forest is characterised by a greater variety of plants and animals because it’s a more aquatic and wet environment. Hopefully, your hike is well-timed to enjoy some wildflowers.

Dan and Rene hiking up a steep track amongst cloud forest

Being avid speed hikers, Beck and I have hiked a heck of a lot of trails over the years. We’d heard differing opinions about the ease of hiking Volcan Acatenango. Admittedly, there were sections of the unrelenting climb, where I was really fatigued. Beck seemed to have more energy climbing up, and I just tried to keep up! Anyway, there are many Miradors to stop and admire the views, rest and re-energise along the way.

What’s speed hiking? It’s our passion and hobby, and we want the world to know about it! Find out more here.

There comes a point where there is a side-trail option that is steeper, but shorter. We opted for this shorter side-trail to reduce the ascending mileage. But, it’s bloody steep and slippery in sections. We only recommend taking this route if you’re an experienced hiker, with energy! Soon enough, the side-trail meets the regular track.

First Views of Acatenango

Once again, another ecosystem change takes place from cloud forest to pine and subalpine forest at around 3,000m. Given the height, the temperature is much cooler, and you’ll have unique grasses and plants on either side of the track. Soon enough, you’ll catch your first glimpse of the summit of Acatenango, and its black volcanic sides. At this point, the wind picks up! Thankfully, you’re not too far from base camp. Once you arrive, make time to relax as the hike to Volcan Fuego is another tough endeavour!

Volcan de Fuego Hike (Stage 2)

Hands down, the highlight of hiking Acatenango is experiencing the erupting Volcan Fuego up close at the nearest accessible viewpoint. So, even if you’re buggered, you’ll have to muster up the energy to do the Volcan de Fuego hike.

Pro tip: We recommend offloading any unnecessary equipment (e.g. toiletries) and leaving them at base camp, to make your load lighter for this hike. Your guide will lock the cabins at Expedicion Volcan Acatenango base camp, so your stuff is safe! Make sure to take all of your layers as it will get cold very quickly once the sun drops. Don’t forget your headtorch either!

At around 4:45pm, Beck, René and I set off for Volcan Fuego. We shortly caught up to the mass group that was Tropicana and were caught in a bit of queue. Thankfully, René and the local guides at Expedicion Volcan Acatenango know the trails really well, so we took a few alternate trails and short-cuts to get ahead of the crowds.

Essentially, you’ll descend a saddle connecting Acatenango and Fuego. These volcanoes are considered twins or paired volcanoes. Similar to Volcan Santa Maria/Santiagutio near Xela and Toliman/Atitlan in Lake Atitlan, the volcanoes located to the southeast (Fuego, Satiaguito and Atitlan) are the younger and active ones. This suggests that the volcanic chain is moving!

The trail descending the connecting saddle is steep and slippery. Eventually, you’ll reach a flat base and your ascent to the Fuego viewpoint will begin. Make sure to look back at Acatenango. You should be able to spot your southern facing base camp and you’ll enjoy the volcano side turn orange as the sun descends.

Volcan Fuego

After a steep climb, you’ll arrive at a flat, diffusely winding trail leading to the erupting Fuego. By this point, it’s just about time for sunset. We encountered strong winds and rolling clouds. So, we put on all of our layers and took in the sunset above the clouds!

A little further on is the main viewing area for Volcan Fuego. Admittedly, it’ll be crowded as all of the tour groups gather here. In the dead of the night, all you can do is find a spot, keep warm and wait for the magic to happen. Volcan Fuego erupts every 15–30 minutes, and with a bit of luck, you’ll have an immense display of lava and ash exploding from its tip.

FYI – during the day, when you watch Volcan Fuego erupt, you can only see the ash clouds emitted from its peak. The beauty of the Volcan de Fuego sunset hike is that once it’s dark, you can actually see the red-raw lava exploding and rolling down its sides. It’s absolutely incredible!

Lava explodes from Volcan Fuego

Our Special Experience at Volcan Fuego

Surprisingly, after only a few eruptions, most of the tour groups started to leave. With huge groups moving slowly, the guides probably need to head back to base camp as earliest as possible to avoid getting back too late. The beauty of hiking in a small group is that, with a bit of persuasion of your guide, you can stay a little longer to enjoy a few more eruptions. Beck and I had the privilege of watching Volcan Fuego erupt, with our guide, without anyone else at the viewpoint.

Admittedly, the hike back to base camp is a tricky one as it’s slippery and obviously pitch black by now. To avoid any injuries, make sure to take your time, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and pack some snacks to keep up your energy levels.

It’s definitely a relief to return to base camp for dinner. But, the show is not over! Whilst relaxing at base camp, Volcan Fuego will continue to put on a show. It’s really hard to pull yourself away from the action. That FOMO mentality of staying for just ‘one more’ eruption really kicks in. But, you’ll have to go to bed eventually and get some rest before the sunrise summit hike.

Dan sits and admires Volcan Fuego

Volcan Acatenango Sunrise Summit (Stage 3)

Despite the tiredness and weariness, don’t ignore the alarm clock and get yourself up for the glorious summit sunrise. Part of the tiredness is being woken several times during the night by shaking as Volcan Fuego erupts. It’s quite the experience, to say the least!

The hike up to Acatenango summit is fairly straightforward and pales in comparison to the hiking you did the day before. But, with tired legs, little sleep and a dark trail, the hike is still challenging. I seemed to have a burst of energy as I was super excited for sunrise. Although Beck had all the sprightliness yesterday, the roles seemed to reverse as she struggled up the trail for sunrise. Thankfully, it’s only around 240 metres of elevation from the Expedicion Volcan Acatenango base camp to the summit.

Anyway, soon enough, you’ll park your bum on some rocks and be given a hot cup of coffee. As you wait for the epic sunrise, Volcan Fuego will continue to erupt and put on a marvellous display. Facing Volcan Pacaya, you’ll experience a palette of vivid colours emerging over the horizon. The Acatenango sunrise summit is breathtaking and a moment to savour.

Following sunrise, you’ll stumble and stammer back down to base camp for breakfast. With the campfire by your side, a clear morning should bring with it amazing views of the mountains, Lake Atitlan and the Pacific Ocean. With breakfast eaten and your gear packed up, it’s time to head back down the volcano!

Volcan Acatenango Descent (Stage 4)

Hiking down Volcan Acatenango is nowhere near as difficult as the previous day’s hiking. With an orange glow covering the sides of Volcan Acatenango and Volcan Fuego continuing to erupt, it’s a pleasant start to the descent. Once you hit the steep sections, the hiking is more challenging. Take your time and rest when you need to. After all, you’ll be fairly sleep-deprived.

Generally, weather conditions are better in the morning around Acatenango. So, you should have mindblowing landscape views to keep up your spirits as you descend the volcano. During the descent, you’ll stick to the main path instead of taking any shortcut side trails, which would prove too steep, slippery and dangerous to descend. You should cover the trail down surprisingly quickly as momentum makes jogging down feel easier than walking, at times.

The Most Difficult Part of the Descent

After you pass the national park entrance, be warned that the trail is its slipperiest. The loose volcanic rock makes stable footing difficult and it’s common to see hikers fall over. In combination with the use of steps, you’ll soon need to master the sliding approach, to basically go with the flow of the unstable loose rock. Beck didn’t quite perfect this tactic, having one hell of a bruise on her hip as a souvenir from her graceful fall.

Dangerously, the narrow and slippery trail is separated from the farmland by a barbed-wire fence. We saw a girl fall and grab the fence instinctively to cushion her fall, but ended up cutting herself really badly on the barbed-wire. Do take your time and be careful around this point.

Nearing the end of the hike, Beck and I decided to forgo a refreshment with the hoards of hangry hikers at the small food vendors. We were keen to wrap things up, and so we made it back to La Soledad in just under two hours from base camp.

Beck and Rene descend the trail

Recap

When you’re in Guatemala, you really have no choice but to pencil in two days to tackle the Volcan Acatenango overnight hike. Whilst you’re at it, make sure you add the Volcan de Fuego hike to your adventure to ensure you get the most out of your experience. By hiking Volcan Acatenango with Expedicion Volcan Acatenango, you’re guaranteed an improved tour experience. And, at the same time, you’ll be helping provide jobs for the local community of La Soledad.

Anyway, whichever tour company you choose, you’ll want to make sure you pack the right gear. Being unprepared and not having the essentials can ruin your Volcan Acatenango experience. Check out our packing list below to make sure you don’t forget anything for your hike.

René from Expedicion Volcan Acatenango during sunrise
René from Expedicion Volcan Acatenango

Five Hiking Essentials For Volcan Acatenango

There are definitely some hiking essentials that you’ll want for the Volcan Acatenango hike.

Hiking Essential

Why do you need this?


See it in action


You'll want a good pair of hiking boots for the Acatenango hike. Particularly when you decend, you'll want decent traction to help prevent slipping and sliding

This camera is lightweight and compact, so it's perfect for a multi-day hike. The Sony Cybershot RX100 VII takes high-quality photos and 4K videos

A waterproof jacket is a non-negotiable, particularly if you do this hike during the wet season

Expedicion Volcan Acatenango can provide you with a hiking backpack if required. But, if you're looking for a fantastic backpack for hiking and general backpacking, we recommend the Osprey Aether AG 70L backpack. The anti-gravity suspension makes the backpack feel really light and you can adjust the back support so it fits your body perfectly

A fleece jacket is just one of the layers you'll want to take to keep you warm during the night. The North Face TKA Glacier has a fantastic warmth:weight ratio, so it's ideal for an overnight hike

Five Camping Essentials For Volcan Acatenango

Although Expedicion Volcan Acatenango provides the camping essentials, we highly recommend these other bits of camping equipment.

Camping Essential

Why do you need this?


See it in action

At base camp, there will be a high-quality sleeping bag and even blankets waiting for you. But, for an extra layer of warmth, cleanliness and an extra anti-mosquito measure, you should take a sleeping bag liner

A headlamp is absolutely necessary for the Volcan Fuego sunset and Volcan Acatenango sunrise summit hikes

A normal pillow is provided by Expedicion Volcan Acatenango, so we didn't need to pack our inflatable pillow. But, if you choose another company with a different sleeping setup, you may need to pack your own pillow

You won't be getting a lot of sleep in between the Volcan sunset and sunrise hikes, but this will help you get some better shut eye

Having a portable battery pack will come in handy to charge your electronics during the overnight adventure

What To Pack and Wear For the Acatenango Hike

Other than the five hiking and camping essentials, here’s a general list of other things to wear/pack for the Volcan Acatenango overnight hike:

  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Quick dry T-Shirt
  • Waterproof trousers, or water-resistance trousers and packable waterproof over-trousers
  • Warm clothes: down jacket, long-sleeve top, thermal top
  • Beanie (hat)
  • Hat (cap)
  • Gloves
  • Neck gaiter: it’s a fairly dusty track
  • Spare pair of underwear and quick-dry hiking socks: c’mon guys, hygiene!
  • Sunglasses
  • Trekking poles
  • Sunscreen
  • Toothbrush/biodegradable tooth paste
  • Baby wipes/toilet paper
  • Ear plugs
  • Any necessary medications
  • Action Camera (GoPro Hero 9)
  • Phone (alarm clock/watch)
  • Tripod: night photography
  • Bag for rubbish to take back down with you

For a more comprehensive hiking gear list, check out our 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With. Otherwise, for a general summary of everything you’d need for a trip, visit our Ultimate Packing Checklist.

Volcan Acatenango Safety

Hiking Volcan Acatenango, specifically, is safe. It’s hiking to the viewpoint of Volcan Fuego that is potentially dangerous. Of course, the tour companies will claim hiking Volcan Fuego is completely safe. But, ask any geologist, and they will tell you that there are serious safety concerns about hiking to the Volcan Fuego viewpoint.

I mean, it makes sense. Volcan Fuego is a very active volcano after all, and one big eruption could spell trouble. A prominent British geologist, Matt, who lives in Guatemala and runs his own brilliant geology-focussed tours, highly discourages hiking to Volcan Fuego.

So, if you listen to his sensible advice, you don’t have to do the out and back hike to Volcan Fuego. We think you’d be crazy not to, because of the mindblowing experience and views. But, safety is always a risk if you do the hike and safety should always be prioritised. Plus, you can easily enjoy and watch the erupting Volcan Fuego at a safer distance from Volcan Acatenango.

As mentioned, in principle, hiking Volcan Acatenango is safe. There aren’t any bandits or trouble makers to be found on these volcano hikes nowadays, unlike other Guatemala volcano hikes like Volcan San Pedro. Plus, these days, you can only hike Acatenango with a guide, so the likelihood that you’ll be in an unsafe situation is very low.

But, safety is ever-evolving, so talk to the locals when you visit Antigua to ensure the hike remains trouble-free.

Volcan Fuego during sunrise

Acatenango Volcano Facts

Before you go, it’s nice to know a little bit more about the volcano that you will summit. For instance, when was the last Volcan de Acatenango eruption? Here are some quick fun facts about Volcan Acatenango:

  • It’s one of the highest stratovolcanoes in Central America.
  • Acetanango is a dormant volcano.
  • The first historic eruption of Acatenango was in 1924.
  • Two other eruptions occurred, one between 1924 and 1927 and the other in 1972.
  • Acatenango deaths: other than the tragic death of six travellers in 2017 on Volcan Acatenango, there have been a higher number of deaths caused by Volcan Fuego. Hundreds of people lost their lives during an eruption of Volcan Fuego in 2018, that caused a mass evacuation of the towns below.

Volcano Hike Guatemala: The Other Ones

There are other fantastic Guatemala volcano hikes that you should do. There are 37 Guatemala volcanoes, which means there are many other brilliant volcano hikes other than just Volcan Acatenango and Fuego. We highly recommend these other volcano hikes in Guatemala:

Unfortunately, due to safety concerns, we weren’t able to hike Volcan Tajumulco near Xela or Volcan San Pedro in Lake Atitlan. But, if safety isn’t such a concern when you visit, these would be some of the other best volcano hikes in Guatemala.

Dan descends a steep trail during the Volcan Santo Tomas hike
Volcan Santo Tomas hike

Volcanoes around Antigua Guatemala

Other than Volcan Acatenango and Volcan Fuego, there are two other volcanoes in Antigua. Volcan Pacaya is another one of the popular volcanoes in Antigua Guatemala. Hiking Volcan Pacaya is a much more leisurely trail and is great to do for sunset. Volcan Agua is the other volcano in Antigua Guatemala. Unfortunately, there are safety concerns about hiking Volcan Agua. So, we decided not to hike this volcano.

Beck photographs Volcan Pacaya
Volcan Pacaya

Bonus Tips

  • Pack extra snacks: admittedly, we were quite peckish after breakfast from Expedicion Volcan Acatenango on the second day. Pack some extra nutrient-rich snacks like nuts, muesli bars or a trail mix to stop the hunger pangs!
  • Use trekking poles: it’s a steep hike up and down Volcan Acatenango and Fuego. Do your knees a favour, and use trekking poles. Even the cheap wooden sticks are better than nothing.
  • Hike during the week: Volcan Acatenango isn’t too far from Antigua or Guatemala City. So, hiking on the weekend can get very busy as you’ll be hiking with all the locals.
  • Volcan Acatenango weather: it’s best to do this hike in the dry season (November to May) to avoid the wet and wild weather during rainy season.
Volcan Acatenango and Volcan Fuego pinterest

Did we miss anything in this guide? Let us know in the comments below.


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