The Best Hike in Guatemala Without a Guide: Volcan Acatenago

We summited Volcan Acatenango!

The views of Volcan Fuego erupting are such an amazing reward after this strenuous hike. We decided to fill up our backpacks and sleep above the clouds without a guide

It’s common to take a guide to trek Volcan Acatenango but if you have the gear and the strength you can make it on your own.

The Acatenango trailhead in La Soledad is an hour from Antigua. There are huge signs pointing it out as well as a few people offering to bring your stuff up for you.

It’s around eight and a half miles or almost fourteen kilometers round trip and the elevation gain tops out at five thousand two hundred feet or sixteen hundred meters, a lot of which are in the first and last stretch.

The trail was not hard to find, but there are a few branches to pay attention too. We used the app to find and stay on trail. It’s well marked on the app and is easy to follow.

I checked the website Mountain Forecast to figure out the best day to hit the volcano. Following this website we were able to go a day earlier for the best forecast.

The park allows dogs and our pup loved climbing Acatenango! She drank 2 liters of water and ate an extra cup of food.

The hike is through farmland, rainforest and alpine. Beautiful vines and moss droop from the trees, leaving the forest covered in green. Truly an amazing place with rewards after the painstaking steps.

Base camps are separate platforms scaling the mountain. Some are obviously used by tour guide companies with fireplaces or even metal structures but others are up for grabs. We picked one without structures and at least one platform higher off the trail. There are fantastic views from every one so no need to crowd other campers.

The most important part about active volcanoes is they are 1000 times better at night. So if day hikes are more your style make sure you do a sunrise or sunset. I highly recommend staying the night. If you don’t have the gear, everything is easily rented in Antigua.

We had a front row seat from our tent to see Volcan Fuego erupt many times. After seeing the lava explode from the volcano a boom louder than thunder would follow.

A lot of blogs comment on how cold it is, we were very comfortable at night with our own 25° sleeping bags. We also brought a blanket for the dog who shared our sleeping mats, she always felt plenty warm.

The nice part about not taking a guide is we were able to follow our own schedule. But I think because of the payment to enter the park as well as the high use of guides the trail stays very clean.

Entrance to the park is 50Q which converts to $6USD. The entrance is about a mile or so into the hike, after the farms. Parking the van was 25Q a night which converts to $3USD The three of us (Danny, Emily & Sombrita) climbing this mountain was less than $20USD whereas taking a guide could be upwards of $150USD per person.

Living in the van enables us to be prepared for anything. After not busting out our ski gear too much this season we were able to wear our coats to summit Acatenango.

After breakfast and packing up camp we were on our way to summit. We packed some things in Danny’s backpack and hid mine off of a side trail. Our experience was very positive with friendly locals and tourists so we felt safe to leave our stuff while summiting. We did make sure to put it all into one bag and take it off the trail.

The summit of Acatenango is a giant crater with crazy wind and crazy views of Fuego.

We made it back to base camp in less than half the time sliding down the scree.

A cute dog we gave our leftover tortillas too watched my bag for us while we summited so obviously we gave him some pets and water.

Heading down took less than half the time, with breaks for lunch. Towards the end of the hike it becomes slippy on the loose rock and dirt. Coming down we were able to enjoy the trail, feeling the glow of the hike.

Getting back down to the van took two and a half hours. We had the cute dog, we named chico help us the whole way down.

The following is our gear list and the food we brought. There is no water source making our backpacks super heavy.

Gear List :

25° sleeping bags
Blanket for Pup
Sleeping Mats
Jet Boil
Hiking boots or shoes
Ski jacket
Long sleeved shirt
Fleece or sweatshirt
Two pairs of pants
Camera with Telephoto
First Aid Kit
Poncho (always bring but we didn’t need, YAY)

For our sustenance we each had :
4 liters of water (there is no source)
4 granola bars
5 corn tortillas
1/2 packet of refried black beans
1 cup of precooked veggies
hot sauce
1/2 bar of chocolate
1 cup of oatmeal
1 packet of instant coffee
2 apples
3 peanut butter jelly sandwiches
1 package of mini Oreos 🙂

Head out there and do it for yourself! With or without a guide this backpacking trip is so rewarding.

We also made a YouTube video with more about our trip!

More Resources for the Hike :


Summit Post