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Overnight Acatenango Hike

Can I hike with a hangover?

The overnight Acatenango Volcano hike is one of the big draws of Antigua Guatemala. It’s not always easy to get around to it though. Antigua can be an all go sort of town, especially at the weekends. Volcanoes, bars, ruins, museums and Spanish School, there’s lots do.

Only an hour drive from the hustle and bustle of Guatemala City. A lot of the City crew escape the traffic and madness of the big smoke to come to the old Colonial Capital for a more relaxed weekend vibe.

The arrival of throngs of city people every weekend in Antigua to mix with travellers from all over the world creates a carnival atmosphere. People of all nationalities mixed with loads of Guatemalans just happy to have a few days off work always leads to a good time.

The busy bars and restaurants are one of the many highlights of this little town. We’ve always noticed the same pattern form with the backpackers who come to our hostel. More people start to arrive on Thursday to gear up for the party over the weekend.

FOMO

So, this often leaves the people who are tight for time with a schedule to keep in Antigua. Or some tough choices to make. Do I go partying or do I hike the Acatenango Volcano?

This is a tough choice to make for any backpacker because new friends are exciting. Volcanoes are exciting, shots of tequila and spin the wheel drinking games are exciting.

Whilst you can go out drinking with your newly made backpacker friends anywhere, there aren’t too many places where you get to see an active volcano erupt.

I know the after party sounds fun, I know the feeling of FOMO, but believe me… If you’re the type of person who can’t get out of bed the day after drinking, normal closing hours are probably late enough.

The Overnight Volcano Hike

The overnight Acatenango Volcano hike is one of the best things i’ve done on my travels anywhere, so whilst it is a tough hike, people like to exaggerate. It’s not that bad. The first hour of the hike is probably the hardest bit because you walk in a straight line. Straight up through the farmland.

After the farmland comes the cloud forrest, where the path starts to zig-zag a little and the incline isn’t quite as steep. The group and guides go at a pace that everyone is comfortable with, stopping every 500m or so for a breather. The hike to the camp takes anywhere between 3.5 and 5 hours depending on the group.

Once we arrive at camp, we can sit back and relax. All the camping equipment is already set up. The guides begin to prepare dinner while everyone enjoys a glass of wine around the camp fire. Sitting there around the camp fire, Volcan Fuego usually puts on a show. The noise an erupting volcano makes will blow you away. Mother nature is an impressive beast.

Overnight Acatenango Hike campsite views

The Final Stretch

After everyone has had dinner and everyone has seen enough eruptions it’s time for bed. 4am rolls around quickly. The hike to the crater for sunrise takes around 50 minutes. This section is quite tough because of the dark, the thin air and the cold, in spite of this, the reward at the top is well worth it.

The crater of Acatenango is a strange place when you see it for the first time, maybe due to its lack of vegetation or its big empty bowl shape. Arriving for 5am allows us to take in a sunrise that will bring a tear to your eye. Due to the prominent fault line that we are standing on, you will see a line of Volcanoes all the way to Mexico.

Was it worth it?

Even if you are unable to avoid going out for drinks, the overnight Acatenango hike is a must do in Antigua. You won’t make your life any easier but you’ll probably sweat away the hangover within the first hour. Antigua is a town to be enjoyed, the bars close at 1am and the hike starts at 11am roughly. Plenty of time for rest. This is one of those rare occasions where you can have your cake and eat it too. As long as you don’t go to the after party until 6am…

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