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Volcanoes in the Land of the Maya
15-day study trip and expedition to Guatemala's volcanoes
Eruption of the Caliente lava dome of Santiaguito volcano
Eruption of the Caliente lava dome of Santiaguito volcano
Silhouettes of Acatenango, Fuego and Atitlan volcanoes
Silhouettes of Acatenango, Fuego and Atitlan volcanoes

Volcanoes in the land of the Maya

15-day study trip and expedition to Guatemala's volcanoes
Tour type
Walking & study tour: active volcanoes - geology & volcanism - adventure
Group size: 6-12
15 days / 14 nights
no scheduled dates at present
Price per person
Guatemala: a country with spectacular volcanic activity, wonderful landscapes, colorful villages and towns, friendly people.
With its 3 active and very distinctly different volcanoes Pacaya, Fuego and Santiaguito on a stretch of little more than 200 km, and many impressive conical peaks between them, Guatemala has the highest density of active volcanoes anywhere on the planet.
Accompanied by a trained volcanologist, you watch active volcanoes from up close and get an in-depth understanding of the powerful and turbulent natural processes at work.
With its colonial heritage, the lively and colorful town of Antigua is the perfect place to start and end our tour. There is time to explore the Mayan markets, listen and dance to the sounds of Salsa and Merengue, practice your Spanish and get in touch with the friendly and warm Guatemalan people.
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  • 3 active volcanoes from close: Fuego, Pacaya, Santiaguito
  • Different viewpoints and extended observation time for each volcano
  • Competent accompanying volcanologist
  • Lake Atitlán's spectacular landscape from above, the shore and from the boat
  • Impressive volcanic landscapes
  • Colorful towns and markets
  • Friendly hospitable people
  • Selected accommodation in charming upscale hotels
  • Comfortable camping
  • Delicious food with free choice in selected restaurants

15 days itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Guatemala City - transfer to Antigua
Individual private transfers from the airport to Antigua. Meeting with the guide and other participants at the welcome dinner.
Day 2: Hiking up to Pacaya volcano
Transfer to Pacaya, short hike, setting up camp and exploring the volcanoes activity in the afternoon-evening-night.
Day 3: Sunrise on Pacaya - Transfer back to Antigua
Morning observations at Pacaya, transfer back to Antigua for lunch, followed by a free afternoon and evening
Day 4: Transfer to Lake Atitlán - giant ash & pumice deposits
Observation of spectacular pumice outcrops and short stops at viewpoints over Lake Atitlán with Toliman, Atitlán and San Pedro volcanoes.
Day 5: Lake Atitlán - sunrise viewpoint - lakeshore hike & boat tour
Optional excursion to a viewpoint for sunrise over lake Atitlán. After breakfast at the hotel we start exploring the lake: boat tour on the lake, a hike along the stunning lake shore, and visit of a lively Mayan market town.
Day 6: Transfer to Quetzaltenango town – Cerro Quemado volcano
Option for another sunrise excursion to enjoy the beauty of the lake. After breakfast, transfer to Quetzaltenango town where we have lunch and settle into our hotel. The afternoon is used for a short hike and visit of the historic lava flows of nearby Cerro Quemado volcano.
Day 7-8: Climbing Santa Maria - observing active Santiaguito
Climb about 1300 m of elevation to reach the spectacular viewpoint on the top of Santa Maria volcano (about 3660 m). After lunch on the summit we make a short descent to reach the sublime viewpoint onto the active Santiaguito dome where we will be camping for the next 2 nights.
Day 9: Descent from Santa Maria - return to Quetzaltenango
In the course of the morning we make the descent down from Santa Maria volcano and return to our hotel in Quetzaltenango where we have lunch. The afternoon and evening are free for you to rest and/or explore this charming colonial style town and its local market.
Day 10: Observing Santiaguito from the South
Transfer from Quetzaltenango to a comfortable hotel south of Santiaguito from where you have a stunning view onto the volcano´s active dome.
Day 11: Transfer to the Volcano Observatory of Fuego - camping and nighttime observation
After an optional morning excursion to observe active Santiaguito volcano, we have breakfast at the hotel and then make our way to the volcano observatory of Fuego. We set up camp in the fields nearby the observatory and get ready for a first night of observing Fuego´s activity.
Day 12: Morning observations of Fuego volcano - return to Antigua
In the course of the morning we break down the camp and travel by minibus back to Antigua. After lunch, the afternoon and evening are free.
Day 13: Fuego volcano from Acatenango volcano
Transfer to Acatenango volcano - climb 1200 m to a great viewpoint at 3600 m elevation facing active Fuego volcano - optional climb to the summit - evening & night-time observation of Fuego's fireworks.
Day 14: Morning observations of Fuego volcano - transfer back to Antigua
Optional morning excursions (further approach Fuego volcano / climb Acatenango´s summit), morning observation of Fuego´s activity from the campsite. Descend back to the start of the hiking trail, pick-nick lunch and return to Antigua. The remaining time in the afternoon is free, but the group meets up for a farewell dinner in a selected restaurant in historic Antigua.
Day 15: Transfer to airport - departure or extension
Individual private transfers to the airport. Extension tours e.g. to Tikal can be offered at request.
Dates and details
Booking inquiry

Arrival info:

The tour starts and ends in Guatemala city. Participants will be picked up from the GUA airport and transferred directly to their hotel in the colorful and charming city of Antigua, where the first and last night of the tour is.

Tour guide

Either Yashmin Chebli or Tom Pfeiffer, as they are the two volcanologists and experienced VolcanoDiscovery tour guides for the Guatemala volcano adventure.

Additional info

Physical requirements

This tour is only suitable if you are used to longer hikes and are in good overall physical shape. The hikes up Santa Maria and Acatenango volcanoes require rather strenous climbs / descends of ca. 1200 m altitude change and at moderate altitude (reaching ca. 3700 m elevation), but on good and tecnically easy trails.
Since most of the tour takes place on the highlands at >1500m elevation, you probably acquire some acclimatization before climbing the first high peak. It is important that you know how to walk slowly and at your own pace. Normally, the climbs take 4-5 hrs, but it is no problem if it takes more than that as long as you are comfortable with the pace.
You will only need to carry a light daypack with some water and clothing, and perhaps your camera during the climbs to Pacaya, Santa Maria and Acatenango.

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