This active adventure will take you on hikes around three different volcanoes in Guatemala's western highlands. Become one with nature as you traverse dried lava fields, enjoy picnic lunches atop volcano summits, and camp under the stars. When not ascending mountains, you'll embark on walking tours of historic Antigua and boat rides on the shimmering waters of Lake Atitlán.

Highlights

  • Explore the historic city of Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Hike up the slopes of Acatenango Volcano and cross its dried lava fields
  • Experience the beauty of Lake Atitlán on a kayak or boat ride
  • Conquer the summits of Pacaya and San Pedro volcanos
  • Enjoy picnics atop volcanic peaks and enjoy views of Guatemala's highlands

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Antigua, Explore the City Antigua
Day 2 Pacaya Volcano Hike Antigua
Day 3 Acatenango Volcano Hike & Camping Acatenango Volcano
Day 4 Sunrise Hike & Transfer to Lake Atitlán Lake Atitlan
Day 5 San Pedro Volcano Summit Hike San Pedro La Laguna
Day 6 Lake Atitlán Free Day Antigua
Day 7 Transfer to Guatemala City, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Antigua, Explore the City

The Arches of City Hall
The arcade of the Palacio del Ayuntamiento (City Hall), in Antigua

Welcome to Guatemala! Upon arrival at the international airport in Guatemala City, you'll transfer one hour to the colonial city of Antigua. After settling into your accommodation, enjoy free time to explore at your leisure. 

Once the capital of Guatemala, Antigua is known for the Spanish colonial Old Town around its main plaza, Central Park. Looming over the city are three volcanoes, and along its historic streets you'll find an impressive array of colonial buildings painted in bright pastels. Some of these have been reduced to ruins due to earthquakes in the 18th century, while others have been beautifully renovated to something resembling their former glory. 

Head out on the cobbled streets for a stroll through the Old Town. Visit 18th-century landmarks like the Palacio del Ayuntamiento (City Hall Palace), which houses the town offices and a museum of ancient books; the Palace of the Captain's General, home to the headquarters of the Guatemala Institute of Tourism; the Casa Santo Domingo, a former convent that is now a hotel and museum; and La Merced Church, whose canary yellow Baroque facade is a hallmark of the city.

When you need a break, pop into a cafe to sample some local cuisine at cafes, or head to the food markets for quick eats like tostadas and empanadas (called dobladas in Guatemala). And when the sun goes down you can do dinner on the town followed by indulging in a bit of Antigua's nightlife. However, make sure to be in bed at a reasonable hour—you've got a long hike tomorrow.

Day 2: Pacaya Volcano Hike

Time to stretch your legs

One of the hallmarks of Antigua's dramatic skyline is the 8,370-foot (2,552-m) Volcán Pacaya. It may not be Guatemala’s highest peak, but it boasts some of the most impressive volcanic landscapes in Central America. Set in its own national park, Pacaya is a fascinating active volcano that cuts an imposing figure with its continuous plume of smoke drifting from the summit. And today you'll get to hike it.

You'll embark in the morning, and as your group moves up the mountain trails stunning vistas will appear with every step. Upon reaching the base of the caldera, your guide will lead the group across rugged lava fields that were reformed after an eruption in 2010. Continue traversing these unique volcanic landscapes as you ascend the peak. After conquering the summit, celebrate with a picnic as you enjoy panoramic views that include three nearby volcanoes: Agua, Fuego, and Acatenango

The hike back down takes you across more dried lava fields before descending through Pacaya’s tropical forest and farmland. Upon returning to the trailhead, you'll transfer back to Antigua.

  • Est. hiking time: 3-4 hours
  • Distance: 3.8 miles (6 km)
  • Ascent: 1,300 feet (400 m)
  • High point: 7,500 feet (2,288 m)

Day 3: Acatenango Volcano Hike & Camping

Fuego Volcanic Eruptions From Camp
Watch Volcán Fuego erupt from your campsite

Get ready for some of the best hiking in Guatemala. This 2-day/1-night journey will take you up the slopes of the 13,041-foot (3,976-m) Volcán Acatenango to a private campsite carved into the side of the mountain. The adventure begins in the morning 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 those 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 exotic 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: 3,600 feet (1,100 m)
  • High point: 12,300 feet (3,750 m)

Day 4: Sunrise Acatenango Hike & Transfer to Lake Atitlán

Sunrise View Over  Volcán de Agua
Sunrise view from Acatenango Volcano

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 to Lake Atitlán, settle into your accommodation, and can then enjoy free time on the lakeshore.

  • Est. hiking time: 2-3 hours
  • Distance: 4.5 miles (7 km)
  • Ascent: 1,500 feet (475 m)
  • High point: 13,000 feet (3,976 m)

Day 5: San Pedro Volcano Summit Hike

San Pedro Volcano in the Distance
View of San Pedro Volcano

Wake up bright and early and eat a hearty breakfast accompanied by strong Guatemalan coffee. Then hop on a private water taxi for the ride to the village of San Pedro, located on the west side of the lake. After transferring to the trailhead, you'll embark on a full-day hike to the peak of San Pedro Volcano, which sits at 9,900 feet (3,020 m).

After a 3.5-hour ascent through a dense cloud forest, you'll arrive at the rocky outcropping that forms the summit of the volcano. While snapping photos and relishing the views of the highland scenery (including the neighboring peaks of Toliman and Atitlan across the Bay of Santiago), you'll dine on a picnic lunch with your fellow hikers.

The descent back down to the lakeshore will take most of the afternoon, and you'll arrive back at your hotel in San Pedro in the early evening.

  • Est. hiking time: 7-8 hours
  • Distance: 5.5 miles (9 km)
  • Ascent: 4,000 feet (1200 m)
  • High point: 9,900 feet (3,020 m)

Day 6: Lake Atitlán Free Day

View of Lake Atitlán
View of Lake Atitlán

Today is yours to enjoy beautiful Lake Atitlán on your own schedule. Whether you choose to relax at the hotel or travel around the lake, you'll probably want to take it easy and recoup after all that hiking. If you're still feeling active, head out for a swim and kayak ride. Or you can hire a boat to take you around the lake and visit the different villages. Your hosts can also arrange specific tours such as lake excursions, zip-lining, visiting women's weaving co-ops, and more. 

In the late afternoon, you'll return to Antigua. Enjoy your final night in Guatemala in the historic Old Town and treat yourself to a night out at a local restaurant.

Day 7: Transfer to Guatemala City, Depart

Central Plaza, Antigua
Central Plaza, Antigua

Depending on your departure schedule, you'll enjoy breakfast in Antigua and then transfer back to Guatemala City for your flight home. Come back soon!

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Map

Map of Culture & Hiking in Guatemala - 7 Days
Map of Culture & Hiking in Guatemala - 7 Days