Guatemala’s breathtaking beauty owes much to the 37 volcanoes standing like sentinels over the country’s fertile faros, colonial towns and azure lakes. While most of these volcanoes are dormant, the Pacaya, Fuego and Santiaguito Volcanoes are active, providing a glimpse of nature’s awesome, subterranean power.
Here’s a brief idea of what you can expect to find on some of the most popular summits:
PACAYA VOLCANO: ( 2550m/ 8,366 ft) Pacaya is an active volcano located just 30 kilometers south of Guatemala City. A short hike quicly bring visitors to the summit, where they can observe eruptions of ash and lava at close rang.
AGUA VOLCANO: ( 3,766 m / 12,352 ft ) A climb up this volcano is recommended for spectacular views of Antigua Guatemala. Hiking time is about 5 hours from Santa Maria de Jesús or 2 hours from the end of a road that climbs partway to the top.
ACATENANGO VOLCANO: (3,976 m / 13,041 ft) The third volcano that watches over Antigua Guatemala, Acatenango is Fuegos’s dormant twin. A hike to the top takes about 6 hours but is recommended also for spectacular views
FUEGO VOLCANO : ( 3,763 m / 12,343) Constantly spewing small ash clouds, this monstrous volcano’s last major eruption occurred in 1974. The hike up its barren slope is grueling and most visitors will be content to admire Fuego’s beauty from the safety of Antigua’s cobblestone streets.
ATITLAN VOLCANO: ( 3,537 m / 11,601 ft) The tallest of the three volcanoes dominating the Lake Atitlan, Atitlan’s summit takes about 8 hours to reach. The reward is a breathtaking view of the world’s most beautiful lake and Guatemala’s Pacific coast.
SAN PEDRO VOLCANO: ( 3,505 m / 11,496 ft) Perhaps the most frequently photographed of all Guatemala’s volcanoes, San Pedro’s beautiful cone seems to rise from the waters of Lake Atitlan. The hike to the top takes about 6 hours and views are limited due to vegetation on the summit.
TOLIMAN VOLCANO: (3,158 m / 10,358 ft) A small group of horned Guans survives in the forest near the summit about a four hour hike from San Lucas. Plan on camping out for a better chance for birdwatchers.
SANTA MARIA VOLCANO: ( 3,772 m / 12,372 ft) One of Guatemala’s most beautiful volcanoes, Santa Maria towers over the city of Quetzaltenango. The hike to the top takes about 4 hours. Camping on the summit is recommended to witness a spectacular night time lava show from Santiaguito Volcano below.
SANTIAGUITO VOLCANO: ( 2,500 m / 8,200 ft) The most dangerous volcano in Central America, Santiaguito first erupted on Volcan Santa Maria’s souththern flank in 1922. It constantly spews spectacular ash clouds and lava and may be safely observed from Santa Maria’s summit.
CERRO QUEMADO VOLCANO: ( 3,191 m / 10,486 ft) A popular day hike from Xela, this volcano offers fields of broken lava and steam vents.
ZUNIL: ( 3,542 m / 11,618 ft) Horned Guans have been sighted in the protected forest on the slopes of this volcano. Further down the slope, Azure- romped Tanagers are frequently seen.
CHICABAL: ( 2,900 m / 9,512 ft) Chicabal summit and magical, crater lake can be reached in about two hours from San Martin Chile Verde, near Xela. The lake, a sacred spot for the Maya is surrounded by forest, with familiar altars tucked among the trees.
TACANA: ( 4,093 m / 13,425 ft) Located on the mexican border, Tacana provides a challenging hike to Mexican and Guatemalan mountaineers alike. It’s a hard climb, at least 10 hours to reach the summit.
TAJUMULCO: ( 4,220 m / 13,842 ft ) This is the tallest volcano in Central America, but the hike to the top which begins at a high altitud, is relatively easy. Good (but cold!) camping in pine glades near the summit