I spent a month climbing volcanoes. 6 people died in a storm on this peak just a few days before we were there. It was the worst mountaineering accident in Guatemalan history. Very sad. On the summit we watched Fuego belch smoke.
Other peaks I bagged on this trip include...
Volcán La Malinche, Cofre de Perote, Pico de Orizaba (country highpoint, 3rd highest in North America), Volcán Iztaccíhuatl, Pico de Aguila, Nevado de Toluca, Cerro de Ombugo, Pico de Humboldt, Nevado de Colima, Cerro Tancitaro
Volcán Pacaya, Volcán Tajumulco (country highpoint, 24th most prominent peak on earth), Volcán Concepción, Volcán Tacaná (2nd highest in Central America), Cerro Chemal "La Torre", Cerro Chemal "Cerro los Cuervos", Montañas Peña Blanca, Volcán Santa María, Volcán Atitlán
Volcán Poás, Volcán Barva, Volcán Irazú, Cerro Chirripó (country highpoint, 36th most prominent on earth), Cerro Piramide, Cerro Terbi, Cerro Buenavista
Trip report with photos and video
Had almost no view due to jungle, and then thick cloud from the trailhead at La Soledad all the way to the summit, but just as we got to the top the weather cleared for a spectacular sunrise. La Soledad is (reachable by chicken bus from Antigua and a guide lives right at the crossroads, ask for Hector Quino - much cheaper to rent gear (if needed) in Antigua & find a guide here than pay a foreign-owned company an extortionate amount for an all-inclusive tour, and better for the locals as well.
For safety reasons, Shaylee and I joined a guided group for the climb of Volcán Acatenango. We went with O.X. expeditions. Since there have been a few robberies in the past, our group was to include two police officers. It was a good group of us and we all headed up the mountain. Since we had to carry so much water most of us (Shaylee and I included) opted to have a horse carry our stuff to camp.
We went at a pretty good pace, but took a lot of breaks, so it wasn’t overly strenuous. It was a nice uphill and then up and down trek to camp. Our camp had an excellent view of the very active Volcán Fuego. Fuego means fire. The volcano has been erupting a few years now. Rather than flow, it explodes a few times an hour. At night everything glows and it is spectacular. We had one spectacular fireworks display at night!
It was a pretty long night for me (crowded tent), but the others seem to sleep OK. I got up once at night and it was very foggy outside. In the morning we awoke at 4 am in order to climb the volcano. There was frost on the ground, but the sky had cleared.
The route up the volcano was rather strenuous due to loose ash and cinders on the steep slopes. We still made good progress and found ourselves on the crater rim for sunrise. Shaylee was first to the top.
Once on top and after watching the spectacular sunrise, some of us ran around the crater. If you run all the way without stopping, you get a t-shirt. Shaylee had to stop because of a stomach cramp and was sad.
After enjoying the summit we descended to camp, packed up and walked all the way down via a different route.
With the eruptions of Fuego, Acantenango was the most spectacular climb of the trip.
Because I was taking my wife, I opted to hire a guide. I used OX out of Antigua and was happy that I did. We camped IN a thunderstorm in the col between the two peaks and summited at sunrise. An amazing storm hit that night and although I am not religious, I literally prayed that we wouldn't be struck by lightning. The storm lasted several hours and my tent (I brought my own) leaked generously. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the hike up and look forward to doing it again.
Climbed this one guided & protected by the lovely folks from OX Expeditions based in Antigua. Watching neighbouring volcano Fuego at work from the safe distance of Acatenango's upper slopes was the proverbial blast.
We started at sunrise with a group of 9, including a guide and security. The initial push is straight up so we had two of our group decide to turn around after only half a mile. The rest of us made it all the way to the summit. It was cloudy the whole way up and we were worried that there wouldn't be much of a view from the top. Right as we were getting to the top the clouds started to open up and we would cheer every time we got a glimpse of Vulcan Agua or the valley down below. Then we came around to where you can see Fuego and we sat and watched it erupt for awhile. That was amazing!! There was one eruption where you could see black chunks of lava flying along with the smoke. It was a tough hike and took our group just over 8 hours. Definitely worth it.
We started the ascent from the village of Soledad. We went straight up (instead of making one LEFT turn through the corn field). It made the next 1,000 ft pretty tough but eventually connected with the official trail. The views and erruptions on Fuego were amazing.
We descended via the official trail which made it easier.
No security issues for our party of two.
FYI: there are 3 buses a day that pass through the little village of El Lugar de la Soledad (headed for Antigua). Buses pass through Soledad at 6am, 7am, and 1pm.
Climbed Acatenango with a guided tour and security guard organized from Antigua. In the moment, the bandits have been banished by locals. But it's probably safer to still go with a tour and it's also not that expensive.
The whole climb is really worth all the effort. With a very heterogeneous group we needed 9 hours for the climb. We camped over night in the summit crater and saw sunset and sunrise. The view is stunning: from Tajumulco in the west to the volcanoes in the east close to El Salvador and Honduras. In the night, you see the lights of Antigua, Chimaltenango, Guatemala and dozens of small villages.
As a top bonus you have Volcan Fuego directly in front erupting at least hourly with fumes and ash. No short trip to a volcano can be better.
Climbed it again in 2012 just a day before Xmas. Even a day hike is worth it. We had fantastic views of all the Guatemalan volcanoes + Cuchumatanes + Pacific Ocean.
Considering the view it is my absolute favorite in Guatemala.
I have climbed Acatenango several times. As StickT states, it is extremely dangerous, especially on the weekends. In fact, a bad experience on Acatenango stopped my attempt to climb all of Guatemala's volcanoes. Unfortunately, we were robbed at gun point early one Saturday morning in Nov, 2007. I have no idea what the security situation has been on the volcano in the past year.
Acatenangos main route is very Dangerous at the moment. Take a Police escort or find a different route until they get rid of the bandits. Our police guards were shot (by coincendence as they ran into the bandits who had chased us after seeing them escort a sick member down) and multiple unescorted groups have been robbed and raped recently. Same goes for Agua, however Pacaya is fine.
Maybe is my favorite volcano from Guatemala, I was climbed this volcano at least 100 times, and every one was really nice experiences. A curious tip: every 6 or 8 years is covered with snow, very rare in central american areas.
What a great day. The clouds were amazing and Fuego was raging!!
One of the most beautiful places in Guatemala!