Conquer seven summits on this 14-day trekking tour of Guatemala's Ring of Fire volcano zone. Setting out from the charming colonial city of Antigua, you'll scale some of the highest peaks in Central America and camp on volcanic slopes. Spend your downtime soaking in hot springs, visiting Maya ruins, and relaxing on the peaceful shores of Lake Atitlán.

Highlights

  • Hike up Tajumulco, Central America's highest peak
  • Camp on Acatenango and witness eruptions from nearby volcanoes
  • Tour the historic town of Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Conquer seven volcano summits in the Guatemalan highlands
  • Soak in natural hot springs & visit ancient Maya ruins

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Antigua Antigua
Day 2 Hike Pacaya Volcano Antigua
Day 3 Hike Volcán Acatenango & Camp Overnight Acatenango Volcano
Day 4 Day Hike to Volcán Fuego & Camp Overnight Acatenango Volcano
Day 5 Sunrise on Acatenango & Transfer to Antigua Antigua
Day 6 Transfer to Quetzaltenango Quetzaltenango
Day 7 Hike Volcán de Zunil Zunil
Day 8 Summit Volcán Zunil & Hot Springs Quetzaltenango
Day 9 Hike Volcán Santa Maria Quetzaltenango
Day 10 Transfer to Tuichán, Hike Volcán Tajumulco Tajumulco
Day 11 Descend Tajumulco & Transfer to San Pedro on Lake Atitlán San Pedro La Laguna
Day 12 Hike Volcán San Pedro San Pedro La Laguna
Day 13 Iximché Ruins & Transfer to Antigua Antigua
Day 14 Transfer from Antigua to Guatemala City for Your Departure Flight  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Antigua

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

Welcome to Guatemala! A personal driver will be waiting for you at the airport in Guatemala City to transfer you about an hour west to the colonial city of Antigua. After settling into your hotel, you'll have free time to explore on your own. 

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. 

Spend the remainder of the day walking Antigua's cobbled streets and enjoying local cuisine at cafés, or head to the food markets for quick eats like tostadas and empanadas (called dobladas in Guatemala). You should also visit a few of the city's main attractions like the Santa Catalina Arch and the ruins of the 16th-century Antigua Guatemala Cathedral and 18th-century Convento Santa Clara.

Day 2: Hike Pacaya Volcano

The lava fields of Pacaya Volcano.
The lava fields of Pacaya Volcano

Today you'll embark on a guided climb up the 8,370-foot (2,552-m) Volcán Pacaya. These 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 the continuous plume of smoke drifting from its summit and the massive dried lava field at the base of its caldera.

The group will meet in Antigua to fill water bottles and prepare for the hike. Then you'll transfer by private vehicle for about 1.5 hours to the park office and trailhead. As your group moves up the mountain trails, you'll be treated to ever more incredible views. Upon reaching the base of the caldera, your guide will direct the group through the dried lava fields, recently reformed by a massive eruption in 2010.

You'll continue the ascent to the peak. There, you'll stop for a picnic lunch amid sweeping views of nearby volcanoes Agua, Fuego, and Acatenango. You can also visit geothermal hot spots on the cooled lava formations, which are great for roasting marshmallows.

The hike down traverses more dried lava fields before descending through tropical forests and farmland. After a walk down to the trailhead, you'll return to Antigua by private vehicle and arrive in town in the late afternoon.

  • Est. hiking time: 3-4 hours
  • Distance: 5 miles (8 km)
  • Ascent: 1,312 feet (400 m)
  • High point: 8,372 feet (2,552 m)

Day 3: Hike Volcán Acatenango & Camp Overnight

Fuego volcanic eruptions seen from the campsite.
Fuego's eruptions as seen from Volcán Acatenango

This morning, meet your group at the Old Town Outfitters Shop, in Antigua, to prepare your hiking gear and purchase any additional supplies. A 1-hour drive then 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 the hike up Acatenango to a campsite on the side of this 13,041-foot (3,976-m) mountain, giving you a front-row seat to the spectacle of nearby Volcán Fuego’s incredible eruptions.

The trail up the volcano has four microclimates, each of which will take you about an hour to traverse. You'll begin by walking up a steep path used by villagers to reach their corn, snow pea, and lily crops. The first hour of hiking will help you acclimatize and warm up your leg muscles.

The second phase of the ascent passes through an old-growth cloud forest. Here you'll see remarkable biodiversity and some of Acatenango’s oldest pines. This type of forest is found on the higher slopes of many of Guatemala’s tallest volcanoes and is home to exotic birds, including the famous resplendent quetzal. At mid-day, you'll enjoy a picnic lunch complimented by incredible views of the other volcanoes and the Cuchumatanes Mountains.

Temperate coniferous forest and tropical dry forest characterize the third phase of the ascent, which leads to the storm-beaten tree line of the volcano. Your campsite is perched just below it and offers sweeping views of the Antigua Valley and Volcán Fuego. After setting up camp, you can relax and enjoy the surroundings while your guide prepares a fresh camp dinner at 12,300 feet (3,750 m).

  • 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: Day Hike to Volcán Fuego & Camp Overnight

Hike from Acatenango to Fuego.
Hiking to Volcán Fuego

Wake up to a spectacular sunrise and views over the Antigua Valley all the way to Guatemala's Pacific Coast. Then enjoy a hearty breakfast; you'll need the energy, as today you'll hit the trail once again. This time it's a hike from your campsite on Acatenango to neighboring Volcán Fuego. 

It starts with a 1-hour descent to the saddle between the two volcanoes. Then, after a short rest, wind your way up 1.5 hours to the vertigo-inducing ridge along Fuego, which is situated between the highland valleys and the Pacific slope. Here, your group will take a break and eat lunch as you wait for a chance to witness an eruption at close range.

Then spend the remainder of the afternoon hiking back to the campsite. Once back at camp you'll have plenty of time to rest and recharge. After another delicious dinner prepared by your guide, let the sounds of the wind between the mountain peaks lull you to sleep.

  • Est. hiking time: 3-4 hours
  • Distance: 3.4 miles (5.5 km)
  • Ascent: 1,080 feet (329 m)
  • High point: 11,700 feet (3,565 m)

Day 5: Sunrise on Acatenango & Transfer to Antigua

Sunrise view over  Volcán de Agua.
Sunrise view of the volcanoes

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 a 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 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 back to Antigua, where you'll have the rest of the afternoon free to relax and enjoy the town.

  • 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)
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Day 6: Transfer to Quetzaltenango

Parque Central, Quetzaltenango.
Parque Central, Quetzaltenango

In the morning, you'll take a scenic 6-hour drive across the high sierra to Quetzaltenango—also known by its Mayan name of Xela. Traveling along the Pan-American Highway, you'll pass its highest point, known locally as "Alaska." After lunch at a roadside restaurant, you'll arrive in Quetzaltenango by mid-afternoon. Sitting at an altitude of over 7,500 feet (2,335 m), this is Guatemala’s second-largest city and the center of the K'iche' Maya people.

Upon arrival, settle into your hotel close to the central Parque Centro América. Later you can enjoy dinner at one of the nearby restaurants. However, be sure to get a good night's rest, as more adventure is in store tomorrow.

Day 7: Hike Volcán de Zunil

Morning views from Zunil campsite.
Morning views from the campsite on Zunil

After breakfast at the hotel, it's a short drive to the trailhead in the village of Xecam. From here, hike 2 hours up to an altiplano grassland plateau. While gaining approximately 3,200 feet (1,000 m) in elevation, you'll traverse plains full of sheep, villages, and isolated forest. Eventually, you'll arrive at the Siete Cruces (Seven Crosses) ridge trail. Then enter a forest of pinabete trees (a rare pine endemic to Guatemala) as you wind along the ridge of Volcán Zunil and neighboring Volcán Santo Tomás.

Break for lunch in one of the many open grass pitches along today’s trail. Then stop for the night just an hour short of Pico Zunil at a beautiful campsite with sensational views east to the Atitlán and Panchoy Valley volcanoes, and west to your next objectives: Santa Maria, Santiaguito, and Tajamulco (Guatemala's highest peak at 13,789 feet/4,203 m). 

  • Est. hiking time: 5-6 hours
  • Distance: 5.5 miles (9 km)
  • Ascent: 2,360 feet (720 m)
  • High point: 11,620 feet (3,542 m)

Day 8: Summit Volcán Zunil & Hot Springs

The beautiful Zunil campsite.
The campsite on Zunil

After an early camp breakfast, you'll continue following the Siete Cruces trail, climbing up the ridge to reach the summit of Volcán Zunil, before descending through the cloud and bamboo forests of the Zunil Valley to the hot springs of Fuentes Georginas.

Depending on the weather, there's a choice of two routes. One is steep and leads directly to the springs, while the other is less direct. Regardless of the route your guide decides on, you should arrive at the hot springs by midday. Then enjoy a well-deserved rest and soak in the thermal pools. After lunch at the hot springs, you'll meet a waiting vehicle and transfer back to your hotel in Quetzaltenango.

  • Est. hiking time: 5-6 hours
  • Distance: 5.5 miles (9 km)
  • Ascent: 2,360 feet (720 m)
  • High point: 11,620 feet (3,542 m)

Day 9: Hike Volcán Santa Maria

Views from Santa Maria.
The views from Santa Maria

Today's trek takes you to the peak of Volcán Santa Maria, which soars 12,360 feet (3,770 m). You'll depart Quetzaltenango early in the morning and drive about 45 minutes over dirt roads to the village of Llanos del Pinal. The trailhead starts here, at 8,200 feet (2,500 m).

The trek begins with a gentle climb through picturesque fields until you reach the base of the volcano's cone. Then it transitions to a steep dirt trail, which is quite muddy, especially after rain. It will take about 5 hours to reach the summit, at which point you can relax and enjoy spectacular views of the active Volcán Santiaguito. Connected to Santa Maria by a saddle, Santiaguito is lower than its sister peak, thus affording a bird’s-eye view into its fiery crater. If you're lucky, you might even see an eruption.

After lunch at the summit, you'll head back down the trail and return to Quetzaltenango for the night.

  • Est. hiking time: 8-9 hours
  • Distance: 6.2 miles (10 km)
  • Ascent: 4,100 feet (1,250 m)
  • High point: 12,360 feet (3,770 m) 

Day 10: Transfer to Tuichán, Hike Volcán Tajumulco

Hiking through pines of Tajumulco.
Hiking through the pines of Tajumulco

Wake up early for the 3-hour drive northwest to the town of Tuichán, near the Mexican border. This is the starting point for today's climb up Tajumulco, the highest of Guatemala’s volcanoes. The trek is relatively easy but it is an all-day excursion.

The first three hours involve traversing scenic forest trails and a pine-studded ridge to reach a campsite, where you'll take a short break. From there it's about 30 minutes to a shoulder below the summit cone, then another 30-minute climb to the crater rim. After a short scramble, you'll reach the highest point in Central America at 13,841 feet (4,219 m). The dizzying views over the countryside and east along the volcanic chain are breathtaking.

Later in the afternoon, descend to the sheltered campsite where you'll settle in for the evening amid panoramic views.

  • Est. hiking time: 4 hours
  • Distance: 5.6 miles (9 km)
  • Ascent: 3,540 feet (1,079 m)
  • High point: 13,789 feet (4,203 m)

Day 11: Descend Tajumulco & Transfer to Lake Atitlán

Blue skies over Lake Atitlán.
Blue skies over Lake Atitlán

Today you'll complete the descent from Tajamulco. When finished, you'll hop in a waiting vehicle for the 5-hour drive to Lake Atitlán, stopping for lunch en route. From the waterfront town of Panajachel, it's a short, scenic boat ride across the lake to the charming town of San Pedro, which sits in the shadow of its namesake volcano. Upon arrival, you'll check in to your waterfront hotel.

The rest of the day you'll have free to relax. Head into town to explore, or laze in a hammock and enjoy the views over the sparkling blue waters of Atitlán.

Day 12: Hike Volcán San Pedro

San Pedro Volcano in the distance.
Views of San Pedro Volcano

After breakfast and coffee, you'll meet your guide and transfer to the trailhead for this 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 (1,200 m)
  • High point: 9,900 feet (3,020 m)

Day 13: Iximché Ruins & Transfer to Antigua

The ancient Iximché Ruins.
The ancient Iximché ruins

This morning, you'll take a water taxi across Lake Atitlán. Then hop in a private shuttle and transfer to Iximché, an archeological site in Guatemala's western highlands. Iximché was once a great capital of the Kaqchikel Maya kingdom back in the 15th century. On a personal guided tour, you'll visit ancient structures that include pyramid temples, palaces, and two Mesoamerican ballcourts. These ruins were declared a Guatemalan National Monument in the 1960s. 

After the tour, you'll stop for a quick lunch on the road to Antigua, where you'll overnight.

Day 14: Transfer to Guatemala City & Depart

Depart Antigua and the Guatemalan highlands.
Farewell, Guatemala

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

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Map

Map of Guatemala Volcano Trek Adventure - 14 Days
Map of Guatemala Volcano Trek Adventure - 14 Days