This quick yet action-packed itinerary includes the best adventures in Guatemala's western highlands. Stroll through the well-preserved colonial town of Antigua, bike along epic downhill runs on mountain trails, and camp in front of an active volcano. You'll return from this escape inspired by the rugged beauty of the land and the warmth and welcoming spirit of its people.

Highlights

  • Tour the charming town of Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage site
  • Hike Acatenango Volcano and marvel at Volcán de Fuego's lava eruption
  • Ride some of the best bike trails in Guatemala led by local guides

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Antigua Antigua
Day 2 Mountain Bike Nature Ride Antigua
Day 3 Acatenango Volcano Hike & Camping Acatenango Volcano
Day 4 Sunrise Acatenango Hike & Transfer to Antigua Antigua
Day 5 Antigua to Guatemala City, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Antigua

Antigua’s famous Santa Catalina Arch.
Antigua’s famous Santa Catalina Arch.

Welcome to Guatemala! A representative will be waiting to pick you up at the airport in Guatemala City. From here, you'll head straight to the colonial city of Antigua, which is about an hour away. After checking in and resting, you can roam about the city at your leisure. 

Once the capital of Guatemala, Antigua is a well-preserved Spanish colonial city surrounded by towering volcanoes. The contrast between these imposing mountains and Antigua's colorful architecture makes it one of the prettiest places in the country. Stroll the cobbled streets, treat yourself to local street food, and see why UNESCO lists the city as a World Heritage Site. Highlight buildings to visit include the 16th-century Antigua Guatemala Cathedral and the 18th-century Convento Santa Clara.

Day 2: Mountain Bike Nature Ride

Bike through lush forests on the El Zur trails.
Bike through lush forests on the El Zur trails.

Today kicks off your first great adventure in Guatemala! In the morning hop on a mountain bike and head out on a one-of-a-kind trail that runs through a beautiful nature reserve on the southern side of Volcán de Agua, located just outside Antigua. The route covers 12 miles (19 km) of flowy, rolling, purpose-built, single-track bliss.

The top of the trail network sits at 8,500 feet (2,590 m), which you will reach by 4x4 shuttle. Once at the trailhead, you're sure to have fun racing down the mountain on this fun route. There are plenty of switchbacks and it passes through lush forests and features awesome views. Once at the bottom, enjoy a snack and refreshments before catching the shuttle back to Antigua.

Day 3: Acatenango Volcano Hike & Camping

Fuego volcanic eruptions seen from the campsite.
Watch Volcán Fuego erupting from your campsite

Get ready for hiking amid some of the most stunning scenery in Guatemala. This 2-day/1-night journey will take you up the slopes of beautiful Volcán Acatenango to a private campsite carved into the side of this 13,041-foot (3,976-m) mountain. The adventure begins at 8 am when you meet your hiking group at Old Town Outfitters in Antigua. Here you'll fill up water bottles and stock up on gear. Be sure to eat a hearty breakfast and pack a snack for the road.

A one-hour drive then takes you from Antigua to the sleepy village of La Soledad, perched on the slope of Acatenango. The trail up the volcano has four distinct microclimates, each of which will take you about an hour to traverse. You'll start by walking up a steep path through farmland—the same trail used by villagers each morning to reach their crops. The first hour of hiking will help you acclimatize and warm up the leg muscles for the day’s hike.

The second phase of your ascent passes through an old-growth, high-alpine cloud forest. In this environment you'll see remarkable biodiversity and some of Acatenango’s oldest pines. This type of cloud forest is found on the higher slopes of many of Guatemala’s tallest volcanoes and is home to many native birds, including the famous resplendent quetzal.

After emerging from the cloud forest around mid-day, you'll be treated to fantastic views of the other highland volcanoes: Atitlán, Tolimán, San Pedro, Santa María, Santo Tomás, and Tajamulco). Plus catch glimpses of the Cuchumatanes mountain chain. You'll have time to admire the scenery as you take a break and enjoy a picnic lunch.

Temperate and tropical forests characterize the 3rd part of your ascent, which leads to the storm-beaten tree-line of the volcano. Your campsite is just below this tree-line and offers sweeping views of the Antigua Valley and the adjacent Volcán Fuego. After setting up camp, take some time to stretch out and relax while your guide prepares dinner at 12,300 feet (3,750 m). Enjoy your meal while marveling at the awe-inspiring display of Volcán Fuego’s eruptions.

  • Est. hiking time: 5-6 hours
  • Distance: 5 miles (8 km)
  • Ascent: 3600 feet (1100 m)
  • High point: 11,480 feet (3,500 m)

Day 4: Sunrise Acatenango Hike & Transfer to Antigua

Sunrise view over  Volcán de Agua.
Sunrise view over Volcán de Agua.

Depending on weather conditions, your group will rise early, enjoy the sunrise over volcano peaks, and embark on a 45-minute/1-hour trek up a gravel trail through pine forest. The is the steepest trail yet, and it leads to the rocky, windy summit of Acatenango’s peak.

At the summit, rest and enjoy breathtaking 360-degree views of the the Guatemalan highlands stretching all the way to Mexico. After eating breakfast and breaking camp, you'll begin the 3-hour descent back to La Soledad. This route follows a different trail so you can enjoy more beautiful scenery as you descend through different microclimates. 

From La Soledad, you'll transfer by shuttle back to Antigua, where you'll have the rest of the afternoon free to relax and enjoy the town.

Day 5: Antigua to Guatemala City, Depart

Depart Antigua and the Guatemalan highlands.
Say farewell to Antigua

Depending on your departure schedule, enjoy a leisurely breakfast in Antigua before transferring back to Guatemala City. Then head to the airport to catch your flight home. ¡Buen viaje!

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Map

Map of Antigua & Acatenango Adventure - 5 Days
Map of Antigua & Acatenango Adventure - 5 Days