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South America Snapshots
Smoking Volcan Fuego

From the beautiful colonial town of Antigua, Guatemala, Volcán Fuego is a constant presence  in the distance.  It is an active volcano, and it is a common to see puffs of smoke throughout the day.  The puffs of smoke make for great sunset photos like the one above.

In addition to being a pretty backdrop for the town of Antigua, Volcán Fuego is also an adventure destination for hikers.  There are multiple tour companies in town that offer a guided hiking and camping tour, including Outdoor Excursions.

The 1.5 day hike will take you through farmland near the base of the volcano where loose soil makes for a difficult start.  After a couple of hours, the environment shifts to a cloud forest with lots of green vegetation and more solid terrain.  As you near the top, the environment changes again to high alpine forest.

This s a medium-high difficulty hike, and you must carry in a tent, warm sleeping bag and clothing (for the cool nights), camp stove and food, and plenty of drinking water.  Most tour companies will provide the necessary gear as part of the tour price.

Once you complete this first long day of hiking, you set up camp in the area between Volcán Fuego and the attached Volcán Acatenango.  Leaving the heavy packs behind, you make the final steep climb to the top to watch one of the most beautiful sunsets above the clouds.  In the distance you will see a series of volcanoes peaking over the clouds, which is a visual indicator of the fault line.

Sleeping near the top of an active volcano is a surreal experience, especially if you are lucky enough to see smoke, or even volcanic rocks, shooting out of the volcano.  But don’t worry too much.  Although this volcano is highly active, it is active at a low level.

Volcán Fuego is just one of many volcanoes in Guatemala.  Out of the 37 volcanoes located in Guatemala, only 4 are active, including the nearby Volcán Pacaya.  So it is quite a special experience to be able to stand on top of one of the few active volcanoes in this Central American country.

Whether you are up for the challenge of an overnight hike or prefer to simply enjoy the view from town, Volcán Fuego is an iconic symbol of Antigua, Guatemala.

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