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Acatenango volcano hike

How to Choose the Best Tour Company for an Acatenango Volcano Hike in Guatemala

Planning an Acatenango volcano hike in Guatemala but don’t know where to start? Travel blogger Pubali Kanjilal has you covered. In this article, she walks you through the process of finding the right tour company so your volcano hiking experience can be the best one ever. 

I took another sip from my hot cup of ponche de frutas, my gaze fixated on the spectacle before me. Red hot lava was trickling down the slope of Volcán de Fuego volcano in Guatemala.

Gathered around the campfire at our base camp on neighboring Volcán Acatenango, Guatemala’s (and Central America’s) third-highest peak, we marveled at the fireworks while a rumbling sound broke the silence of that cold, starry night.

It’s a magical thing, I thought, to experience an erupting volcano from so up-close-and-personal. But in Guatemala, if you sign up for an overnight Acatenango volcano hike, it’s an experience to enjoy and you’ll cherish the memories forever. I will, at least.

It’s not an easy hike, Volcán Acatenango. But with right guides and equipment, it could become one of your most memorable travel experiences. And to make the most of Acatenango, you need to choose a tour company that best suits your requirements.

In this article, I’ll show you how to do exactly that.

Five Questions To Ask Before Choosing a Tour Company for Your Acatenango Volcano Hike

While shopping around for a tour company for your Acatenango volcano hike, make sure you ask the right questions. Based on my experience of doing the hike, here are some I would recommend.

1. What does the total cost of the Acatenango volcano hike include?

The total cost of an Acatenango volcano hike fluctuates from one tour company to another. I had come across various price points ranging from $60-$150 per person for a group tour. This variation is usually based on what the tour companies provide on a hike.

What food and equipment do they include? Transportation with hotel pick up/drop off from Antigua (Most -although not all – hikers do this tour while staying in Antigua)? Quality of guide? Sleeping/camping arrangements? All these factors affect the price, and reputable tour companies will account for them.

The Volcán Acatenango hike passes through several ecosystems and temperatures will range from very hot to freezing cold. So you need to carry proper winter gear like jackets, gloves, and caps.

Most travelers in Central America don’t bring cold weather gear with them, but never fear – some companies will provide these items.

Ask the tour company if this gear is already included in the price or if you need to pay extra. If you have your own warm clothing, you can subtract the rental cost of each item from your tour price. But, if you don’t, you may want to look for an all-inclusive price with all necessary materials covered.

2. How many meals will a tour company provide on the overnight hike?

Since this is an overnight hike, tour companies usually include lunch and dinner on Day 1 and breakfast on Day 2. We were more than satisfied with the food our tour company provided. Each meal offered freshly-cooked, delicious, and nutritious food. There were plenty of snacks too, essential for this energy-consuming hike.

But we also heard many stories about how some tour companies offer insufficient meals, well below the standard of nourishment that this hike demands. So it’s important to ask beforehand about meals. Ask how many meals they include and what kind of food they will offer in each meal.

3. Do you need to carry your tent, food, and sleeping bag?

The Acatenango volcano hike involves many hours of walking. On the first day, it’s a grueling uphill climb. The next day it’s all downhill on a slippery slope. Needless to say, you want to keep your backpack lightweight for this kind of a hike.

But here comes another challenging aspect of the Acatenango hike: Despite wanting as light a load as possible on your back, you’ll still need a large enough backpack to fit your warm clothing, rain gear, 3-4 liters of water, flashlights, and other essentials like toilet paper. This backpack by no means can be lightweight!

Also, with some tour companies, you will need to carry your tent, sleeping bag, and two days worth of food. For some people, this extra weight is no problem, all part of the adventure. For others, though, it may be a major burden. So, remember to ask exactly what you need to carry in your backpack. Some companies offer the option of porter services at an extra cost.

To prepare well for hiking Volcán Acatenango, refer to this packing guide with a handy checklist included.

Our experience: With food, we had to carry the day one lunch only, which was over within a few hours of starting the hike. The rest of the meals were freshly-prepared. Also, we didn’t have to carry tents or sleeping bags, as everything was already set up at the camp.

They had 6″ high density foam mattresses to put our sleeping bags on, which helped us to deal with the cold of the night. Not all companies offer these foam mattresses, but you can still ask about the sleeping arrangements.

4. Is a Volcán de Fuego hike offered as an add-on?

You can actually hike two volcanoes on this trip for some extra bucks. After you reach the Volcán Acatenango base camp, there are two options. You can summit Acatenango or you can hike the neighboring Volcán de Fuego. Here, you’ll walk on the knife ridge and get as close to the eruptions as it’s possible to do safely.

Usually, they schedule one around sunset on Day 1 and the other before sunrise on Day 2. Which of the two hikes is for which time slot depends on the tour company. So, if you want to include the Volcán de Fuego add-on, and have a preference of when to see it, ask about the schedule.

Please note, not all tour companies have permission to take visitors to Volcán de Fuego. So, if it’s an absolute must-have experience for you, make sure your company includes this. The rest of your research should then be easier, as it’s based on a smaller sample of tour companies to start with.

5. Are the guides bilingual?

The tour company we went with had Spanish speaking guides only. Although that wasn’t a problem for us, many English-speaking hikers in our group found it difficult to follow the guides’ instructions. They needed to rely on other hikers translating for them.

If you don’t speak Spanish, you may want a tour company with bilingual guides. Volcán Acatenango is a long and strenuous hike. It’s important you feel comfortable with how you communicate with your guides.

Popular tour companies for hiking Volcán Acatenango

Now you know what questions to ask when choosing a tour company for your Acatenango volcano hike, here are some of the most reputable ones to start with:

We went with Soy Tours on our hike, and can recommend them. But any of the other ones in the above list are also well-recommended and trustworthy based on the specifications listed earlier in this article.

You can also hire a private guide to take you up, although please ensure this person comes recommended from people you trust. Don’t ever undertake this hike alone without any type of guide whatsoever.

Final thoughts

If you’re an active person who loves nature and natural wonders, take an Acatenango hike when you’re in Guatemala. Do your research, plan ahead, train well, and prepare for an experience of a lifetime. Volcán Acatenango won’t fail to disappoint you!

Originally from Kolkata, India, Pubali Kanjilal has been living in Costa Rica since 2018. She enjoys exploring new destinations and embracing new cultures, which she writes about on her Paradise Catchers travel blog. 

Pubali Kanjilal

Pubali Kanjilal

Originally from Kolkata, India, Pubali Kanjilal has been living in Costa Rica since 2018, traveling across Latin America and the Caribbean with her husband whenever they get the chance. She enjoys exploring new destinations and embracing new cultures. Pubali and her husband share their best travel tips and recommendations on their travel blog, Paradise Catchers.