In less than a week, you can experience some of the most phenomenal natural wonders in Guatemala. This active adventure will take you to the central highlands, where you'll explore the cobbled streets of Antigua, followed by a hike up the mighty Volcán Pacaya. Then you're off to mythical Lake Atitlán for kayak rides and nature hikes before ending the trip strong with camping at the summit of yet another volcano.


  • Tour Antigua's historic streets and hike up Volcán Pacaya
  • Go kayaking and hiking around Lake Atitlán
  • Camp overnight at the volcanic summit of Acatenango

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Guatemala City, Transfer to Antigua Antigua
Day 2 Day Hike to Pacaya Volcano Antigua
Day 3 Mountain Biking at Lake Atitlán Lake Atitlán
Day 4 Kayaking & Hiking at Lake Atitlán Antigua
Day 5 Hike Acatenango Volcano & Camp Overnight Acatenango Volcano
Day 6 Descend Acatenango, Transfer to Guatemala City & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Guatemala City, Transfer to Antigua

Welcome to Antigua

Welcome to Guatemala! This small Central American country is the perfect place to enjoy outdoor adventures, whether you're a hiker, cyclist, kayaker, or all of the above. Within the highlands, here you'll find everything from sacred lakes to towering volcanoes to colonial cities—all just waiting to be explored.

Upon arrival at the airport in Guatemala City, a driver will pick you up and transfer you about an hour west to the colonial city of Antigua. Once the capital of Guatemala, Antigua is known for the Spanish colonial Old Town around its main plaza, Central Park. It's also surrounded by three volcanoes, and the contrast between these imposing mountains and the city's colorful architecture is part of the reason Antigua has earned UNESCO World Heritage status.

After checking in to your hotel, spend the remainder of the day walking Antigua's cobbled streets and treating yourself to local street food like tostadas and empanadas (called dobladas in Guatemala). Be sure to stop by historic landmarks like the Santa Catalina Arch and the ruins of the 16th-century Antigua Guatemala Cathedral and 18th-century Convento Santa Clara.

Day 2: Day Hike to Pacaya Volcano

Panoramic views from Pacaya Volcano
Panoramic views from Pacaya Volcano

Today, you'll strap on your hiking boots for a guided hike up the 8,370-foot (2,55 m) Volcán Pacaya, whose slopes are home to some of the most impressive volcanic landscapes in Central America. Set in its own national park, Pacaya cuts an imposing figure with a continuous plume of smoke drifting from its summit and the massive lava field at the base of its caldera.

The trip up and back takes about six hours, but horses are an option for those who'd prefer a more relaxed ascent. Upon arrival at the summit, you'll enjoy a picnic lunch amid panoramic views (you can even roast marshmallows over volcanic vents). The hike down traverses more dried lava fields before descending through tropical forests and farmland on your way back to Antigua. 

Day 3: Mountain Biking at Lake Atitlán

Go riding around Lake Atitlán
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At 8 am, you'll hop in a vehicle with your cycling group and make the three-hour drive to Guatemala's most famous lake: Lago Atitlán. Upon arrival at a trailhead in the lake highlands area, you'll unload the bikes and receive safety instructions regarding the day's route as well as the surrounding terrain. Then hit the trail on a steep country road that winds through the highlands above the lake on a mostly downhill ride passing several small villages and towns.

Upon reaching the first vista overlooking Lake Atitlán, your guide will stop and prepare a picnic lunch, which you'll enjoy as you orient yourself with the villages and geography of the lake. After lunch, breeze down the quick and windy road to the lakeside town of Panajachel. From here, you'll continue to your hotel in a village and will have the rest of the afternoon free to relax by the lakeshore. 

Day 4: Kayaking & Hiking at Lake Atitlán

Hit the water on a kayak

Wake up to views of the lake and its towering volcanoes before meeting your guide for today's five-hour expedition. You'll start out in a kayak, paddling westward along the north shore of Lake Atitlán for roughly two hours. Pass by villages perched on lakeside cliffs, hop in the water for a swim, or even go cliff jumping. Your destination is a spot between the villages of Tzununá and San Marcos La Laguna, where you'll leave your kayak behind and lace up your hiking boots.

Follow the lake trail between the villages, taking in views of the San Pedro, Tolimán, and Atitlán volcanoes. Hike along the shoreline and through small villages for about 1.5 hours, and eventually, the route will return you to your lodge. After a well-deserved lunch, you'll have the remainder of the afternoon free.

Day 5: Hike Acatenango Volcano & Camp Overnight

Acatenango campsite
Acatenango campsite

At 8 am, meet your hiking group at Old Town Outfitters in Antigua. Here, you'll fill up water bottles and stock up on gear. Then take a one-hour drive to the slope of Volcán Acatenango and the village of La Soledad, where the trailhead is located. The route up the volcano has four microclimates, each of which will take you about an hour to hike. You'll start by walking up a steep path through farmland, which is the same trail used by villagers to reach their crops. The first hour of hiking is a nice warm-up for your leg muscles in preparation for the rest of the journey.

The second phase of the hike passes through an old-growth, high-alpine cloud forest. 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. You'll have plenty of time to admire the scenery as you take a break and enjoy a picnic lunch.

Temperate and tropical forests characterize the third 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 Fuego's eruptions.

Day 6: Descend Acatenango, Transfer to Guatemala City & Depart

Sunrise over Acatenango 

Depending on weather conditions, your group will rise early, enjoy the sunrise over volcano peaks, and embark on a 45-minute/one-hour trek up a gravel trail through a pine forest. This 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 Guatemalan highlands stretching all the way to Mexico. After breakfast and breaking camp, you'll begin the three-hour descent back to La Soledad. This route follows a different trail, so you can enjoy even more beautiful scenery as you descend through different microclimates. From La Soledad, you'll transfer to the airport in Guatemala City, where you'll catch your flight home. Adiós!

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Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Guatemala? Check out these other Guatemala itineraries, explore different ways to spend six days in Guatemala, or learn about the best time to visit Guatemala.


Map of Guatemala Lakes & Volcanoes: Atitlán & Acatenango - 6 Days
Map of Guatemala Lakes & Volcanoes: Atitlán & Acatenango - 6 Days