This Guatemala hiking trip takes you to the top of Acatenango, Pacaya, and San Pedro volcanoes, following trails through dense cloud forests with panoramic views of the surrounding highlands. Enjoy the peace of nature with picnic lunches atop volcanic summits, camping under the stars, and discovering unique terrain, such as dried lava fields. When you're not hiking, you'll be perusing the UNESCO Old Town of Antigua and exploring Lake Atitlán by boat, kayak, or zip line.

Highlights

  • Explore the Old Town of Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Hike the slopes of Acatenango Volcano and across its dried lava fields
  • Experience the beauty of Lake Atitlán on kayaks, boats, or zip lines
  • Conquer the summit of Pacaya and San Pedro volcanos
  • Enjoy picnics atop volcanic peaks with panoramic views of Guatemala's highlands

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Antigua - Explore the city Antigua
Day 2 Conquer the summit of Pacaya Volcano Antigua
Day 3 Hike the Acatenango Volcano and camp overnight Acatenango Volcano
Day 4 Enjoy a sunrise hike on Acatenango - Transfer to Lake Atitlán Lake Atitlan
Day 5 Hike to the summit of San Pedro Volcano San Pedro La Laguna
Day 6 Explore Lake Atitlán with kayaking, boating, or zip lining Antigua
Day 7 Transfer to Guatemala City for your departure flight  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Antigua - Explore the city

The Arches of City Hall
The Arches of City Hall

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 the city at your leisure. 

Once the capital of Guatemala, Antigua is filled with a colorful Old Town surrounding its central plaza, Central Park. The city flaunts an impressive catalog of colonial relics, with streetscapes of pastel facades unfolding beneath three volcanoes. The contrast between these imposing mountains and the colorful architecture of the city makes it one of the prettiest settlements in the country.

Many of Antigua's old religious and civic structures are beautifully renovated, while others retain tumbledown charm with fragments strewn about park-like grounds. Stroll through the Old Town and visit the City Hall Palace, the Palace of the Captain’s General, and the Paseo de los Museos. You can also visit the 16th-century Antigua Guatemala Cathedral with its impressive ruins and the 18th-century Convento Santa Clara

Enjoy the rest of your evening treating yourself to local snacks at cafes and food vendors, then head back to your hotel.

Day 2: Conquer the summit of Pacaya Volcano

Landscape Near Pacaya Volcano
Landscape Near Pacaya Volcano

Views of Antigua often include the city's dramatic backdrop of the 8,370-ft (2,552-m) mountain, Volcán Pacaya. It may not be Guatemala’s highest peak, but its slopes are home to some of the most impressive volcanic landscapes in Central America. Set in its own national park, Pacaya is a fascinating volcano with its continuous plume of smoke drifting from the summit, plus a massive dried lava field at the base of its caldera.

As your group moves up the mountain trails, you'll enjoy the vistas that seem to appear with each step. Upon reaching the base of the caldera, your guide will direct the group through the rugged dried lava fields that were recently reformed by a massive eruption in 2010. No matter the conditions you encounter on the route, you'll traverse unique volcanic-rock landscapes as you ascend towards the peak. At the summit, you'll stop for a freshly-prepared picnic to enjoy along with views of nearby volcanoes Agua, Fuego, and Acatenango

The hike down brings you across the remaining dried lava fields before beginning the descent through Pacaya’s dense, lesser-known forests and farmland. Upon returning to the trailhead, you'll head back to Antigua.

Hike Details:

  • 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: Hike the Acatenango Volcano and camp overnight

Fuego Volcanic Eruptions From Camp
Volcán Acatenango Eruptions 
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This morning, you'll meet your group at the Old Town Outfitters Shop, where you can prepare water bottles, snacks, and hiking gear, purchasing any additional supplies you may need. A one-hour drive takes you from Antigua to the sleepy mountain village of La Soledad, perched on the Pacific slope of Volcán Acatenango.

From here, you'll start your 2-day/1-night hike up the slopes of Acatenango to your private campsite on the side of this towering mountain. From here, you'll enjoy camp meals, incredible views, and plenty of room to stretch out. At camp, you'll have ample time to appreciate the sights and sounds of nearby Volcán Fuego’s incredible eruptions.

The trail up the volcano has four distinct microclimates, each of which will take you about an hour to traverse. You'll begin by walking up a steep path through local farm fields, which is the same trail used by villagers each morning to reach their corn, snow pea, and lily crops. The first hour of hiking will help you acclimatize and warm up your leg muscles for the day’s hike.

The second phase of your ascent passes through a tropical, old-growth cloud forest. In this environmental zone, you'll find some of Acatenango’s oldest trees, remarkable biodiversity, fresh mountain air, and the sounds of native birds and wildlife. This type of alpine cloud forest is found on the higher slopes of many of Guatemala’s tallest volcanoes and is home to the famous Quetzal species of vibrantly-colored birds.

After exiting the cloud forest, you'll be rewarded with fantastic views of the other highland volcanoes (Atitlán, Tolimán, San Pedro, Santa María, Santo Tomás, and Tajamulco), along with glimpses of the Cuchumatanes Mountain chain. A fresh picnic is prepared mid-day for your group to enjoy.

Temperate coniferous forest and tropical dry forest characterize the third phase of your ascent, which leads to the storm-beaten treeline of the volcano. Your campsite is perched just below treeline with sweeping views of Antigua Valley and  Volcán Fuego. After setting up camp, you're free to rest, relax, and enjoy their surroundings while your guide prepares a fresh camp dinner at 12,300 feet (3,750 m) with hot tea and coffee.

Hike Details

  • 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: Enjoy a sunrise hike on Acatenango - Transfer to Lake Atitlán

Sunrise View Over  Volcán de Agua
Sunrise View Over Volcán de Agua

Pending weather conditions, your group will rise early and embark on an hour-long ascent to the summit of Acatenango, following a sandy gravel trail dotted with dwarf pine trees and high alpine mosses. Today's route is the steepest of the trip, leading to the rocky summit and unparalleled 360-degree views of the entirety of the Guatemalan Highlands, all the way to the border of Mexico

After enjoying the views at the top, you'll return to camp for breakfast. Afterward, you'll begin the 2.5-3 hour descent back to La Soledad. You can opt to descend through an alternate route down Acatenango, experiencing a variety of microclimates and a scenic trail.

From La Soledad, you'll transfer to Lake Atitlán, where you can settle into your accommodation and enjoy an evening along the lakeshore.

Hike Details

  • 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: Hike to the summit of San Pedro Volcano

San Pedro Volcano in the Distance
San Pedro Volcano in the Distance

Enjoy an early morning with breakfast and coffee, followed by a private boat taxi to the lakeside village of San Pedro Atitlan. You'll then transfer to today's trailhead and begin your full-day hike to the peak of San Pedro Volcano, which sits at 9,900 feet (3020 m).

After your 3.5-hour ascent through a dense cloud forest, you'll arrive at a rocky outcropping that is the summit of the volcano. While relishing the views of the entire Atitlan Highlands (and the neighboring peaks of Toliman and Atitlan across the Bay of Santiago), you'll enjoy a fresh picnic lunch with your fellow hikers.

Your descent back down to the lakeside will take you through the afternoon, arriving back at your hotel in San Pedro in the late afternoon.

Hike Details

  • 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: Explore Lake Atitlán with kayaking, boating, or zip lining

View of Lake Atitlán
View of Lake Atitlán

Today is yours to freely explore and enjoy beautiful Lake Atitlán. Whether you choose to relax at the hotel or discover some of the other villages surrounding the lake, you'll certainly need this day to recoup after a trip filled with hiking.

The hotel offers kayaks, swimming, and other water sports, as well as the rental of public boats that can take you around the lake. Your hosts can also help coordinate specific tours, such as kayaking, ziplining, weaving co-ops, village tours, and more. 

In the late afternoon, you'll meet as a group and return to Antigua in preparation for tomorrow's departure flights. Enjoy your final night in Guatemala in the historic Old Town of Antigua, trying local cuisine and delicious drinks.

Day 7: Transfer to Guatemala City for your departure flight

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.