Parque National Volcan Pacaya, Guatemala
Volcan Pacaya Parque National Volcan Pacaya Reviews
Pacaya volcano: walk on fire! May 20, 2006
A popular half days excursion from Antigua is a climb up active Volcan
Pacaya. The drive takes about 1,5 hours. The hike up starts at the
hamlet San Francisco at about 1800 m., where the visitors centre is
located. Local children will try to sell you 'plasticos' (plastic ponchos) and walking sticks. Not a bad idea! Only upon arrival were we
informed that we wouldn't be summiting. No reason was given (we found out later, though). Because we were the only ones speaking Spanish in the group, we were the only ones who realized that we wouldn't be summiting. The others only found out when our guide started turning back. Our hike went to a saddle in the mountain at about 2300 m. The hike up might have been short (about 3 km) but with the speed our guide went, we were panting after a few 100 m.! We were sweating inside our woollens and being raining upon from the outside so we were thoroughly WET. The hike went in such a speed we couldn't really enjoy the surrounding vegetation. Once we arrived at the saddle, luckily, the rain had stopped and we had a good view of the cone in the distance. Once we crossed a cow pasture, we noticed why we couldn't summit: a huge gash had opened across the pasture, blocking access to the cone. This was the highlight of the trip, looking into the gash and seeing the 'serpientes rojos' (red serpents) of lava streaming below. We thought that would be it, but our guide actually led us on top of the hardened lava stream! The air was shimmering with heat around and you could hear the lava crackle beneath your feet! Looking down, you could see red streams running in cracks you were stepping over! It was so hot the soles literally melted off my sneakers and if you threw water on the floor, it evaporated immediately. When one member of our group
broke through the hardened lava (he jumped without being burned), our guide decided we'd had enough and we started on the way back.
Of course, the way back went way quicker and in about 20 minutes
we were back at the visitors center, tired but excited!
Tons of travel agencies offer this trip, at $8-10 pp not including the
entrance fee to the park. The trip can be made on your own but because of robberies that's not recommended. Better go as a group with a guide who doubles as security. We used La Ruta Maya on the Parque Central.
Part of the Guatemala & Belize 2006 travel blog
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