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

Highlights

  • Trek up Tajumulco, Central America`s highest peak
  • Hike Acatenango volcano with magical views of Volcan de Fuego's lava eruption
  • Visit the charming town of Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage site
  • Conquer seven incredible volcano summits in the Guatemalan highlands
  • Discover idyllic hot springs & ancient Mayan ruins

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Antigua Antigua
Day 2 Hike Pacaya Volcano Antigua
Day 3 Acatenango Volcano Hike & Camp Overnight Acatenango Volcano
Day 4 Hike from Acatenango to Volcán de Fuego Acatenango Volcano
Day 5 Sunrise on Acatenango & Transfer to Antigua Antigua
Day 6 Transfer Antigua to Quetzaltenango "Xela" Quetzaltenango
Day 7 Climb Volcán de Zunil Zunil
Day 8 Summit Volcán Zunil & Hot Springs Quetzaltenango
Day 9 Day Hike to Volcán Santa Maria Quetzaltenango
Day 10 Drive 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 representative will be waiting to pick you up at Guatemala City International Airport

From here, you'll head straight to the colonial city of Antigua, which is about an hour away. After checking in and resting, you'll be free to roam about the city at your leisure. 

Once the capital of Guatemala, Antigua is surrounded by volcanoes. The contrast between these imposing mountains and the colorful architecture of the city makes it one of the prettiest places in the country. Walk around the cobblestone streets, treat yourself to local snacks, and see why UNESCO lists the city as a World Heritage Site.

Day 2: Hike Pacaya Volcano

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

The 8,370 ft (2,552 m) Volcán Pacaya 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 storybook volcano, with its continuous plume of smoke drifting from its summit and a massive dried lava field at the base of its caldera.

Meet in the morning at the local Antigua shop and fill up your water bottles before heading off to climb the volcano. The drive to the trailhead is about 1.5 hours in private transport from Antigua to the park office. 

As your group moves up the mountain trails, impressive vistas open up before you. Upon reaching the base of the caldera, your guide will direct the group through the rugged dried lava fields, recently reformed by a massive eruption in 2010. No matter the conditions you encounter on the mountain, your group will have the opportunity to traverse unique volcanic-rock landscapes as you ascend towards the peak. There you'll stop for a freshly prepared picnic to enjoy along with views of nearby volcanoes Agua, Fuego, and Acatenango. There will also be plenty of opportunities to explore geothermal hot-spots on the cooled lava formations—which are always available to help roast marshmallows!

The hike down brings you across the remaining dried lava fields before beginning the descent through Pacaya’s lush and lesser-known forests and farmland. After a walk down to the trailhead, you'll return to Antigua by private transport to arrive in town in the late afternoon.

Day 3: Acatenango Volcano Hike & Camp Overnight

Fuego volcanic eruptions seen from the campsite.
Fuego's volcanic eruptions are visible from the campsite

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

This morning, meet your group at the Old Town Outfitters Shop, where you can fill up water bottles and purchase any additional gear you might need. Be sure to eat breakfast beforehand and pack a small snack for the road. A one-hour drive takes you from Antigua to the sleepy mountain village of La Soledad, perched on the Pacific slope of Volcán Acatenango. 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—the same trail used by villagers each morning to reach their corn, snow pea, and lily crops. Your 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 tropical 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.

After exiting the cloud forest, you're 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 3rd phase of your ascent, which leads to the storm-beaten tree-line of the volcano. Your campsite is perched just below tree-line with sweeping views of the Antigua valley and  Volcán Fuego. After setting up camp, hikers are 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.

Day 4: Hike from Acatenango to Volcán de Fuego

Hike from Acatenango to Fuego.
Hike from Acatenango to Fuego

In the morning, enjoy a hearty breakfast as a spectacular sunrise brings your next objective, Volcán Pacaya, into sight. With a backdrop of sweeping views south towards the tropical Pacific coast of Guatemala and east across the Antigua Valley, you'll begin the 1-hour descent to the saddle between Volcán Acatenango and Volcán Fuego.

After a short rest, wind your way up the 1½-hour push to the vertigo-inducing ridge of Volcán Fuego. Nestled between the highland valleys and the Pacific slope, your group will rest and eat lunch as you wait for a chance to witness an eruption at close range.

Your group will spend the afternoon hiking back to the campsite, where there's plenty of time to rest and recharge. After another delicious dinner prepared by your guide, the beautiful soundtrack of the mountain will lull you sleep.

Day 5: Sunrise on Acatenango & Transfer to Antigua

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

Pending weather conditions, your group will rise early and embark on a 45 minute/1 hour trek on a sand and gravel trail dotted with dwarf pine trees and alpine mosses. The trail up is the steepest you'll have seen and leads to the rocky, windy summit of Acatenango’s peak.

At the summit, rest and enjoy unparalleled 360-degree views of the entirety of the Guatemalan highlands—all the way to the border of Mexico. After enjoying breakfast and breaking camp, you'll begin the 2.5 to 3-hour descent back to La Soledad. You have the opportunity to descend through an alternate route down  Volcán Acatenango, experiencing a variety of microclimates and beautiful trail.

From La Soledad, you'll be transported directly back to Antigua, where you'll have the rest of the afternoon free to relax and enjoy the town.

Plan your trip to Guatemala
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Day 6: Transfer Antigua to Quetzaltenango "Xela"

Parque Central, Quetzaltenango.
Parque Central, Quetzaltenango

Today you'll make a very scenic 6-hour transfer 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 at a place known locally as "Alaska." After a lunch stop, arrive in Quetzaltenango in the mid-afternoon. At an altitude of 7,660 feet (2,335 m), this is Guatemala’s second-largest city and the center of the Quiche Mayan people. Check your hotel close to the central Parque Centroamerica, and rest up for another day of adventure tomorrow.

Day 7: Climb Volcán de Zunil

Morning views from Zunil campsite.
Morning views from Zunil campsite

After breakfast at the hotel, it's a short drive to the trailhead in the village of Xecam.

From here, you'll hike for two hours—approximately 3,280 feet (1,000 m)—up to the altiplano plateau of grassland known as “Alaska.” You'll traverse plains full of sheep and goat-herders, dotted with resettlement villages (from Hurricane Stan in 2005) and isolated groves of forest, before meeting up with Xela’s famous Siete Cruces (Seven Crosses) ridge trail. Here you enter a forest full of rare Pinabete trees (an endangered species of pine tree endemic to Guatemala) as you begin to wind along the rolling ridgeline of Volcán Zunil and its neighbor Volcán Santo Tomas.

Break for lunch in one of the many open grass pitches along today’s ridge trail, and stop for the night just an hour short of Pico Zunil at a beautiful campsite with sensational views on both sides—east to the Atitlán and Panchoy Valley volcanoes (San Pedro, Acatenango, and Fuego) and west to your next objectives: Santa Maria, Santiaguito, and Tajamulco.

Day 8: Summit Volcán Zunil & Hot Springs

The beautiful Zunil campsite.
The beautiful Zunil campsite

After an early camp breakfast, you'll continue to follow 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 and the condition of the group, there's a choice of two routes. One is very steep and leads directly to the springs, while the other is less direct and ends with a short transfer to the pools. Your guide will decide on the best route for the prevailing conditions.

By midday, you should arrive at the hot springs and take the welcome opportunity to rest and soak in the thermally heated waters, nestled in a cool, lush gorge on the lower slopes of Volcán Zunil. Enjoy lunch at the springs, then meet your transport back to your hotel in Xela.

Day 9: Day Hike to Volcán Santa Maria

Views from Santa Maria.
Views from Santa Maria

Today's objective is the 12,368 foot (3,770 m) Volcán Santa Maria. Leaving early in the morning from the hotel, you'll take a 45-minute drive, mostly on dirt roads, to the start point at the village of Llanos del Pinal

The trek starts with an easy trek through fields to the base of the volcano's cone, then turns very steeply up a dirt trail, which can get slippery in places. It's a 4-5-hour trek to reach the summit, but you'll be rewarded with truly spectacular views of Volcán Santiaguito. Connected to Santa Maria by a saddle, this active volcano is lower than its sister and gives you a bird’s eye view into its fiery crater and frequent eruptions.

After enjoying lunch at the summit, return down the trail to Xela for the evening.

Day 10: Drive to Tuichán & Hike Volcán Tajumulco

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

Make an early start today for the 3-hour drive to Tuichán, which lies near the Mexican border and is the starting point for your climb up Tajumulco, the highest of Guatemala’s volcanoes.

Today's trek is relatively easy but does have a longish day of 7-8 hours. You'll begin by traversing beautiful forest trails and a pine-studded ridge to reach your campsite in about 3 hours, where you can take a short break and relax. Continue to a shoulder below the final summit cone, reached in 30 minutes from the campsite. From here, it's a steep 30-minute climb to the crater rim, followed by a short scramble to the highest point in Central America at 13,841 feet (4,219 m). The dizzying views over the surrounding countryside and eastwards along the volcanic chain are simply breathtaking. Descend in the afternoon to the pleasant and sheltered campsite, where you'll settle in for the evening with a background of panoramic views.

Day 11: Descend Tajumulco & Transfer to San Pedro on Lake Atitlán

Blue skies over Lake Atitlán.
Blue skies over Lake Atitlán

Today you'll complete the descent from Tajamulco and begin the 5-hour drive back to Lake Atitlán, stopping for lunch en route. From Panajachel, it's a short, scenic boat ride across the lake to San Pedro. Arrive at the town, with its namesake volcano towering above, and check-in at your waterfront hotel.

The rest of the day is free to relax and enjoy this special spot. Head into town to explore, or swing in a hammock and enjoy the views over the sparkling blue Lago de Atitlán.

Day 12: Hike Volcán San Pedro

San Pedro Volcano in the distance.
San Pedro Volcano in the distance

After breakfast and coffee, depart in a private boat taxi to the lakeside village of San Pedro Atitlán. Your guide will recruit a local pickup to bring you up to the San Pedro trailhead and begin your full-day hike to the peak of Volcán San Pedro. After the 3.5-hour ascent through lush cloud-forest, you'll reach the rocky outcropping of the summit at 9,908 feet (3,020 m). A fresh picnic lunch is provided for the group, which you can enjoy with views of the entire Atitlán highlands and neighboring peaks of Toliman and Atitlán across the Bay of Santiago.

In the afternoon, the descent to lakeside returns you to your hotel in San Pedro.

Day 13: Iximché Ruins & Transfer to Antigua

The ancient Iximché Ruins.
The ancient Iximché Ruins

This morning, you'll board a boat as you leave Lake Atitlán. Then, enjoy a private shuttle transfer through the beautiful highlands of the region on your way to the ruins of Iximché.

Declared a Guatemalan National Monument in the 1960s, this archaeological site includes various pyramid-temples and palaces, and two Mesoamerican ballcourts. On your private guided tour, you'll get to learn the history, symbols, and legends that are preserved in Iximché.

After the tour, you'll stop for a quick lunch on the road to Antigua, your destination for the evening.

Day 14: Transfer from Antigua to Guatemala City for Your Departure Flight

Depart Antigua and the Guatemalan highlands.
Depart Antigua and the Guatemalan Highlands

Depending on your departure schedule, enjoy breakfast in Antigua, and then transfer back to Guatemala City for your flight.

Map

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