If you’re planning a trip to Guatemala, one activity you will have heard of time and time again is the amazing Volcan Acatenango hike. Even if you’ve never been a huge fan of hiking, you might think the prospect of getting up close and personal with an active volcano just sounds like an absolutely incredible experience. And you’re not wrong! I personally did the Volcan Acatenango hike when I was living in Antigua, Guatemala, and it was easily the highlight of my stay.

So, without further ado, let’s get into everything you need to know about the Volcan Acatenango hike in Antigua, Guatemala, including how difficult it is, the best tour companies to go for, the packing list, safety tips, and so much more!

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What Is Volcan Acatenango?

One of the first things you’ll notice when you arrive in Antigua, Guatemala, is that this small town is surrounded by volcanoes. One of these massive structures is Volcan Acatenango. Climbing Volcan Acatenango is one of the most popular activities that many travelers include on their Guatemala itinerary.

Acatenango is located around 15 km from the town and is just 3 km from the active Volcan Fuego. Acatenango is 13,041 ft or 3,976 m tall, so this hike is definitely not for the faint-hearted, that’s for sure! In fact, it is the tallest of the three main volcanoes near Antigua (the others being Fuego and Agua), and the third-highest peak in Central America.

The reason the Acatenango volcano hike is so popular is that the hike provides the most AMAZING panoramic view of the entire region as well as the Fuego volcano, which has been erupting non-stop for over 500 years. In fact, the Fuego volcano erupts every 15 minutes, so when you’re at the top, all you have to do is wait, and you’ll be awarded with stunning and fiery erupts as close as you can get without endangering yourself! I mean… you’re not going to be able to experience something like this anywhere else!

Quick Facts About the Acatenango Hike

  • The Acatenango hike is pretty difficult but manageable as long as you can handle altitudes and have a moderate level of fitness.
  • The company I went with to climb Acatenango was OX Adventures, and I would highly recommend them.
  • It is possible to hike Acatenango on your own, but I wouldn’t do it unless you really know your way and are an experienced hiker.
  • It’s definitely worth hiking up to the Fuego Ridge, but keep an eye out for the weather – otherwise, it won’t be worth it!

How Difficult Is the Acatenango Hike?

The Acatenango hike is difficult but not impossible. That said, it is definitely a challenging hike that requires a good amount of mental and physical stamina. You’ll likely be carrying a 20 kg (45 lbs) backpack up the mountain with extremely steep slopes. The trail to the top of the volcano is essentially all uphill, which will have just about anyone gasping for air at nearly 4,000 meters of altitude!

Don’t expect a walk in the park, and (unless you are an experienced mountaineer) be prepared for one of the most difficult hikes of your life. That said, the hike is SO worth the challenge, and the views at the top are simply incredible.

The sheer difficulty of the hike and the altitude are why my partner Mia didn’t join me on this hike. She has personal difficulty with dealing with altitude. So, unless you know your body can’t deal with high altitudes and you have a moderate fitness level, you should be able to do it!

My Experience Hiking the Acatenango Trek with OX Adventures

acatanengo hike

I did my Acatenango hike with OX Adventures, one of the most popular and reputable tour companies in Antigua. I have only good things to say about this company. They provide well-trained guides and good food, comfortable accommodation, and even equipment if you need it!

Everything on my tour of Acatenango went smoothly, and I am honestly so glad that I chose them for my trek. Here is some information about the cost of the tour with OX and what they provide.

  • Cost: $99 for Acatenango, $139 for Double Whammy (Fuego and Acatenango summit)
  • What’s Included: Transportation from Antigua to the trail start (and back), 2 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 1 dinner, accommodation on the volcano, gear rental (backpack, warm clothes), and luggage storage
  • Accommodation Type: Cabins with a padded mattress and sleeping bags (5 people per cabin)

Food and Water

OX provided four meals for us on the hike: breakfast at a restaurant before the start of the hike, lunch on the trail, dinner at base camp, and breakfast the next morning after summiting.

These meals were filling, nutritious, and honestly pretty delicious, especially considering we were eating in the middle of nowhere. You should still definitely bring some snacks such as fruit, protein bars, trail mix, etc. Trust me; you’ll be burning some serious calories on this hike!

OX also provided us with 2 liters of water, but you’ll want to bring some more water or electrolyte drinks for the journey as there are no places to refill water bottles during the hike.


I am a huge fan of nature, but, unfortunately, mass tourism can have highly detrimental effects on the natural sites we flock to see. As the tourism industry in Guatemala has skyrocketed, the number of hikers on Acatenango has also gone up exponentially. Due to the lack of sanitation infrastructure in the volcano, this has led to many people (tour companies included) throwing their garbage out on the trail, which obviously has horrible impacts on the environment.

OX puts a huge emphasis on eco-friendliness, claiming the “mountains are their church”. All cabins owned by OX are built from sustainably sourced materials, and all of the gear used for the hikes is recycled. Additionally, OX incentivizes hikers to bring down garbage from the mountain by giving out free T-shirts for every trash bag you fill!

If, like me, you are interested in supporting sustainable and ethical travel companies and lessening your negative impacts on the world as you travel, you should definitely go with OX!

Check out our guide on how to be an ethical digital nomad for more on this.


My tour with OX had a base cost of $99 with the option to add on the Fuego ridge for an additional $40. Luckily, you can decide at the base camp of Acatenango if you want to go for the “Double Whammy”. It is another 4 hours of hiking, so the add-on is certainly not for everyone.

There are also some other costs that aren’t included in the ticket price.

  • Entrance fee to the park: 100Q (13 USD)
  • Porter to carry your bag up and down the mountain: 200Q (26 USD)
  • Walking sticks you can rent from a local family near the trailhead: 5 Q (.65 USD)

There are a few places near the beginning of the trail to purchase water, snacks, and drinks, so I would recommend bringing some extra cash as well.

Other Tour Companies for Acatenango

OX Adventures is your best bet for hiking up Acatenango, as they are extremely professional, environmentally conscious, and highly rated. But if you want to check out some other companies, here are a few of the other options out there.

Wicho and Charlie’s

  • Cost: $119 (8-person shared cabin), $129 (6-person shared cabin), $134 (4-person shared cabin), or $334 (private cabin for 2 hikers)
  • Accommodation type: Cabins

Wicho and Charlie’s is another excellent tour provider in Antigua that provides excursions. Like OX, they also provide gear and warm clothing at no extra cost. Porters are also included in the price of Wicho and Charlie’s. They will carry your heavy backpack 80% of the way up and down the volcano, which is definitely a game-changer!

Old Town Outfitters

  • Cost:$150 to $245 (depending on group size)
  • Accommodation type: Tents

Old Town Outfitters is a very reputable tour company in Guatemala that offers a wide range of outdoor activities and tours. They are a bit more expensive than other tour companies in the area, but they offer a premium service with excellent guides. The one downside of Old Town Outfitters is that you will be staying in tents instead of cabins, so you may not be as comfortable.

V Hiking Tours

  • Cost: $76 (shared cabin) or $101 (private cabin)
  • Accommodation type: Cabins

V Hiking Tours is a family-run tourism business located near Antigua that takes tourists to Acatenango and to the Fuego ridge. They have comfortable accommodation and offer the warm hospitality that family-run businesses bring!

Can You Hike Acatenango on Your Own?

It is totally possible to hike Acatenango without a tour group. I encountered a few hikers who attempted it on their own during my trek with OX Adventures. However, most hikers choose to do the hike with an organized tour as it is safer, much easier to organize, and more comfortable.

If you are a super experienced hiker who doesn’t mind a bit of rugged adventure, you can definitely hike Acatenango by yourself. But do your research, bring all the equipment (tent, sleeping bag, clothing, food, and water), and learn the route.

The main benefit of hiking Acatenango with a tour is that the company provides a base camp with cabins, toilets, benches, and other facilities. You’ll also have an experienced tour guide leading you the entire time. High altitude, active volcanos can be unpredictable, so having a tour guide is the safest option.

Is It Worth It to Also Hike to the Fuego Ridge?

Most tour companies that offer a guided tour to the summit of Acatenango will also offer an optional add-on to hike to the Fuego Ridge. Fuego is one of the most active volcanos in the world, so you’ll have the chance to get an up-close view of the volcano as it erupts every 15 to 20 minutes.

I chose to do the “Double Whammy” and hike the Fuego Ridge, and in my opinion, it was TOTALLY worth it. But this add-on is a challenge, especially after spending all day climbing to base camp. I would also ONLY recommend going for the Fuego Ridge if the sky is clear. If you hike out on a cloudy day, you won’t get much of a view. I was blessed with an amazingly clear view of the volcano and the surrounding countryside, but other travelers I spoke with weren’t even able to see the eruptions… But this is the case if you are hiking to the summit of Acatenango as well. The weather really matters!

If you choose to do the Fuego Ridge, you’ll hike another 3 km from the Acatenango base camp. You’ll get to go just about as close as you can safely get to the summit of Fuego, as for obvious reasons, you can’t actually climb to the summit.

This is a pretty grueling hike, and your legs will really be feeling it, but it is an experience you won’t likely get another chance at. So, I say go for it!

It is also worth noting that if you choose to do the Fuego Ridge, you may be too exhausted to climb to the summit of Acatenango in the morning. I managed to do both, but it was pretty rough considering we got back from Fuego at 10 pm and then woke up to summit at 3 am! But if you don’t want to climb Acatenango in the morning, and if you already had a good view at the Fuego Ridge, I would say it’s fine to skip the summit.

Volcan Acatenango Packing List

Probably one of the most stressful parts about planning a hike is figuring out what to take. After all, if you forget one small thing, you’re kind of screwed for the rest of the hike! To help you out, here is my ultimate Volcan Acatenango packing list. Just go through the list and tick off each item one by one to ensure you are fully prepared for this difficult hike.

What Clothes to Pack for Acatenango

Here’s what you’ll need in order to hike Acatenango. While the hike is only 1.5 days, you’ll surprisingly need all of this:

  • Underwear
  • Dry-fit t-shirt x2
  • Dry-fit hiking pants
  • Thick socks x2
  • Hiking boots or trail runners
  • Thermal top
  • Thermal bottom
  • Light jacket
  • Waterproof winter jacket
  • Sunglasses
  • Mask or bandana (it’s pretty dusty up there!)
  • Beanie
  • Gloves
  • Raincoat or poncho

Some tour companies will provide you with some of the clothes that you’ll need for the hike – sometimes for an extra fee. So, you may not need to travel all the way to Guatemala with all of these pretty bulky items just for a 1.5-day hike. If you want, you can even leave all of your bulky hiking and winter gear at home and simply rock up with the basics (depending on the company and what they provide). At the very least, most tours will provide a thick winter jacket.

However, if you do plan to borrow a jacket, keep in mind that the quality of the items may not be what you’re used to. This is especially important to keep in mind when it comes to the jacket. It is absolutely FREEZING at the top, so you’re going to want to be warm. Since the jackets provided may not be exactly your size, I highly recommend packing a good base thermal layer that will keep you warm despite a flimsy jacket.

What Else to Pack for Acatenango

On top of clothes, you’ll need to pack some other items before you begin your trek up Acatenango. Here is what I brought on the hike:

  • 55-liter backpack (I recommend the Osprey Farpoint)
  • Fanny pack
  • Headlamp
  • Portable charger
  • Toilet paper
  • 3-4 liters of water
  • Electrolyte powder
  • Snacks (I brought apples, Snickers bars, trail mix, and granola bars)
  • Sunscreen
  • Deodorant
  • Wet wipes
  • First-aid kit (your tour guide should bring a kit, but it doesn’t hurt to bring your own)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Trekking poles

What You Usually Get with a Tour

Every tour is different. As mentioned, some tours may even provide some clothes to keep you warm when at the top. But whatever tour company you go with, you should at least receive the below as a part of your tour:

  • Sleeping tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • 4 meals
  • Transportation from Antigua and back
  • Tour guide(s)
  • Storage of belongings

Safety Tips for Volcan Acatenango

acatanengo volcano hike

As with any kind of adventure activity you do abroad, you’ve got to be safe! While the hike itself is not dangerous, the reality is that you’ll be hiking near an extremely active volcano and the hike itself is pretty darn challenging. So, here are my top safety tips for Volcan Acatenango so you can arrive back home in one piece.

Take It Slow

Even if you are in excellent physical shape, listening to your body at high altitudes is important. At 4,000 meters, the air is very thin, and there is only around 60% of the oxygen as there is at sea level. This can make you feel winded much quicker. To avoid tiring out too fast, hike slowly and take breaks when needed to catch your breath.

Drink Lots of Water

This may seem like an obvious one, but you should drink lots of water throughout the hike up Acatenango. While it can be pretty chilly at the summit, it is pretty hot and humid during the day, so you’ll likely be sweating (at least I was!). OX recommends bringing at least 3 to 4 liters of water. I brought 4 liters of normal water and an extra liter of electrolytes.

Wear Proper Hiking Footwear

When I was hiking up Acatenango, I saw several people attempting the climb wearing sneakers! Props to them for trying, but I suggest bringing proper hiking shoes or boots, as it is a pretty steep climb with lots of loose gravel and sediment.

I walked up the mountain with my New Balance Fresh Foam X Hierros, which are super comfortable while still providing a good amount of support and grip.

Avoid Alcohol Before and During the Hike

If there is one thing I have learned from my hiking experiences in Peru, Ecuador, and Guatemala, it is that alcohol and high altitudes do not mix well… You will greatly increase your chances of experiencing altitude sickness if you drink during or the night before the hike. So, save the drinking till after the hike and head to one of Antigua’s many amazing bars celebrate your achievement!

Travel Insurance for Volcan Acatenango

An important note: No matter how safe and prepared you are during the hike, you never know what may happen. For example, you might accidentally slip and break your ankle, and there’s not much you can do to prevent that from happening besides looking where you step (which is hard to do in the pitch black that you’ll be hiking in the evening and the following morning). But one thing you CAN absolutely do is purchase travel and health insurance before your trip

But since a hike is sometimes considered an extreme activity, you have to ensure that the insurance you get covers the hike! The last thing you want is for insurance to deny your claim since it doesn’t technically cover the Volcan Acatenango hike!

If you’re not sure what insurance to get, I highly recommend getting SafetyWing. This is the insurance I personally use whenever I travel. In fact, you don’t even need to get the adventure sports add-on if you use SafetyWing, as hikes up to 4,500 meters are included. Plus, it’s probably one of the more affordable travel insurance options out there!

Go for It!

If you’re not already convinced to do the Volcan Acatenango hike, let me put my words here, loud and clear: The Volcan Acatenango hike is an absolute must! Unless you have some physical, mental, or time barriers to prevent you from doing this hike, this hike is totally worth it. In fact, I would put this hike as one of the top rewarding hikes I’ve ever done, and I only ended up getting 45 minutes of sleep! So, what are you waiting for?

Looking to eat a delicious meal after the long hike? Check out our list of the our favorite resturaunts in Antigua!

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