When we arrived in Guatemala we knew to expect some beautiful volcanoes, but what truly amazed us was the stunning mountainous landscape Guatemala had to offer. There are 37 volcanoes in Guatemala, of which only 3 are still active today. One of those being Pacaya!
In order to do this hike you are required to have a guide. We spoke to a local who said to visit Pacaya taking local transportation they had to take multiple chicken busses and hitch hike a little and apparently once you arrive a guide is Q200 regardless of group size. Our advise; you can get a tour from Antigua (and probably Guatemala City as it is close as well) for Q80-Q100 including direct transportation and your guide. You do still have to pay your Q50 entrance fee on top of that. We are all about doing things ourselves without a tour, but when taking a tour actually saves us money, we can’t turn that down.
Tours will pick you up either at 6am, or 2pm depending when you choose. As we visited in rainy season we opted for 6am as there would generally be less clouds and lower chance of rain at this time. However, based on what we heard, there are potential positives to visit Pacaya in the evening when it gets darker, and therefore by taking the 2pm trip, of which we are not exactly sure because we chose the earlier trip, but ask about this where you are booking the tour to help you decide the time you would like to go at! During dry season, rain in the afternoon/evening will obviously not generally be a concern.
Pacaya is a relatively easy hike that takes approximately an hour and a half from the starting point and well worth it! We are animal lovers so we were excited to be joined on the hike by some local dogs (not sure if they were stray or not). Along the way you get beautiful views of the surrounding landscape, and of course, of Pacaya. At multiple points along this journey make sure to admire Pacaya as you can often see it shooting volcanic rock out of the crater and into the air. When you reach your highest point you get an awesome lookout view of Pacaya and the lava field. On our hike, as we reached this point, we had a few minutes of clear view of Pacaya before some clouds rolled in which blocked the view. However, lucky for us we love the feeling of being as high as the clouds so we didn’t mind. After a little rest here, you will continue down to walk on the lava field. The lava field is the large area where the lava has previously flowed which leaves behind an entire field of lava rock. On the lava field is a lava store that sells mostly jewelry and a couple other things that include lava rock in the making.
And now for the most unforgettable part. You will get to roast marshmallows on a volcano! As you gather around multiple hot steam vents along the lava field, you will roast some marshmallows as you enjoy some laughs with your group. It’s not everyday you get to hike an active volcano, but we’d say its even more rare you get to ROAST MARSHMALLOWS on an active volcano! On a side note, on blogs we read when planning for the hike, some suggested buying the marshmallows along the way up, but in our experience, there was nobody selling marshmallows but rather our guide handed out sticks and marshmallows (included in the cost) when we arrived to the lava field.
For any crazy adventurers, you cannot actually hike to the crater anymore. The lookout spot before going down to the lava field is the highest you will get, and the lava field is the closest you will get.