Forum Index > Trip Reports > Family hike up Volcan Pacaya (Guatemala)
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jdk610
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jdk610
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PostWed Jan 04, 2017 8:59 pm 
We spent the last ~2 weeks in Guatemala, where the pace of life was slow, and wifi was even slower. Uploading photos and writing blog posts was essentially impossible. Honestly, it was nice. I turned off my phone for the entire trip, and checked my work email on my laptop once a day.

Wheels down in Guatemala
Wheels down in Guatemala
We rented a small apartment in Antigua – our home for the trip.
We rented a small apartment in Antigua – our home for the trip.
We did a lot of this, and it was awesome
We did a lot of this, and it was awesome
We ❤ Guatemala
We ❤ Guatemala

One of the main reasons we went to Guatemala was to take Spanish lessons, which we did every morning from 8 am – noon. We all learned a ton, and we also still have a ton to learn! We plan to use duolingo to keep practicing, and hopefully set up some Spanish-only playdates as well.

We all took one-on-one lessons at Antiguena Spanish Academy.
We all took one-on-one lessons at Antiguena Spanish Academy.
Rowan and her teacher Melissa
Rowan and her teacher Melissa
Tom and his teacher Oscar.
Tom and his teacher Oscar.
Some of Rowan’s schoolwork
Some of Rowan’s schoolwork

Of course, this blog is mainly supposed to be about endurance sport, so I should probably get down to business: Technically, our first hike in Guatemala was really just a very short (1/2 mile?) walk up Cerro de la Cruz. It’s like a miniature version of Rattlesnake Ledge: both the views and the crowds were stunning. There is a safe paved trail that switchbacks up to the top of the hill. You can easily do it on your own during daylight hours.

Standing at the top of Cerro de La Cruz, looking down on Antigua with Agua volcano looming in the distance
Standing at the top of Cerro de La Cruz, looking down on Antigua with Agua volcano looming in the distance
Standing at the top of Cerro de la Cruz, looking behind me at all the other tourists.
Standing at the top of Cerro de la Cruz, looking behind me at all the other tourists.

For our next hike, we skipped a day of school to go up Pacaya, one of the many active volcanoes in Guatemala. At 4 miles round trip and 2200 ft of elev gain, the route is relatively mellow and kid-friendly. Even so, this was going to be Rowan’s biggest hike to date, and while we wanted her to try her best to get up the mountain, we also wanted to keep it FUN.
Pacaya is in a national park, and park rules dictate that you must hire a guide to do the hike. We went with Old Town Outfitters, and I’d highly recommend them. Our guide Pablo was a friendly knowledgeable local who spoke excellent English and handled every detail, including packing us an amazing picnic lunch.

Crushing it!
Crushing it!
Lunch spread courtesy of Pablo
Lunch spread courtesy of Pablo
Pablo putting “Mayan Make-up” (tree sap) on Rowan
Pablo putting “Mayan Make-up” (tree sap) on Rowan

Tom and I decided ahead of time that our biggest goal for Pacaya was to make it a fun family day. We didn’t want Rowan to feel rushed or pressured about reaching the top.  As a last resort, we knew that there were locals with horses who often followed hikers up the mountain, so she could always get a horseback ride to the top if necessary.
I am so proud to say that Rowan did the entire hike all on her own two feet! More importantly, she did it with a smile on her face, and it never felt like we were dragging her up there. When she got to the top she said “I wasn’t sure I’d be able to hike up here all by myself! But I DID!” ❤ ❤ ❤

Tom and Rowan on the final uphill push.
Tom and Rowan on the final uphill push.
Rowan at the “summit.” They don’t let you get any closer because it’s so active (most recent eruption was in 2014)
Rowan at the “summit.” They don’t let you get any closer because it’s so active (most recent eruption was in 2014)
Pacaya. The lava in the foreground is from the 2014 eruption.
Pacaya. The lava in the foreground is from the 2014 eruption.

We wandered around the lava fields for a bit, taking pictures and learning about the volcano, and then had a leisurely lunch while looking at volcans Fuego, Acatenango and Agua in the distance. All in all, probably our best family hike to date!

From left to right, Fuego (erupting), Acatenango (hiding in the back) and Agua up front.
From left to right, Fuego (erupting), Acatenango (hiding in the back) and Agua up front.
Fuego erupted several times during our hike, which didn’t seem to phase anyone at all. If I saw a volcano doing this in WA state, I think I’d start planning an evac route!
Fuego erupted several times during our hike, which didn’t seem to phase anyone at all. If I saw a volcano doing this in WA state, I think I’d start planning an evac route!
After lunch we roasted marshmallows over an active volcanic vent
After lunch we roasted marshmallows over an active volcanic vent
Happy camper
Happy camper
Laguna de la Calderas, as seen from the flanks of Pacaya
Laguna de la Calderas, as seen from the flanks of Pacaya
Super fun family day!
Super fun family day!

https://evergreenendurance.com/2017/01/04/pacaya-volcano-family-hike/

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Sculpin
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PostThu Jan 05, 2017 3:39 pm 
Guatemala is a good topic for winter!

jdk610 wrote:

To borrow a line from the sailors who were stationed in the Aleutians, it looks like there is a pretty girl behind every tree on that mountain!

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Between every two pines is a doorway to the new world. - John Muir
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Brushbuffalo
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Brushbuffalo
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PostFri Jan 06, 2017 8:45 am 
Looks like you had a great family vacation. It is always thrilling  seeing active volcanoes.

Maybe some heat from the tropics will reside in your bones when you are doing your upcoming Alaska adventure, Jessica! Or at the least you can be thinking warm thoughts 😎

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Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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RichP
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PostFri Jan 06, 2017 5:17 pm 
I finally got to read your blog post. Nice family trip. Mucha suerte con el español!

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puzzlr
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puzzlr
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PostFri Jan 06, 2017 9:53 pm 
A timely report for me. We're heading down there next week. I'm hoping to get up Tajamulco. And I think Gimpalator and others are down there too.

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Mid Fork Rocksflickr
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mbravenboer
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PostSat Jan 07, 2017 8:44 pm 
up.gif Glad that you had a good time with the family!

I'm thinking about something in middle america for next winter, so this is great info!

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Langdon Greene
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PostSun Jan 08, 2017 2:31 pm 
Awesome!  We may have been there at the same time as you guys; we were in Antigua about Dec 19th or so.  Did you get to Lake Atitlan?  We spent a few nights on a mountainside right on the lake.  We had hoped to backpack 4-5 days in Tikal, but ran out of time - had to be home by the 27th.

We backpacked up Volcan Acatenango on about the 21st or 22nd, overnighted on the top and watched (and heard and felt) Fuego erupting all night.  We were just about eye level with it, and in the dark of night you could really see the orange lava & flames spurting and flowing.  It was pretty amazing.... the thunder of some of the eruptions was deafening.  Freezing cold 60mph winds up at the summit though...

I hope you found Café Injerto in the city.  There was so much amazing coffee all around Guat, but I think Injerto was the best coffee I've ever tried anywhere.

I suppose I should do a TR on Acatenango / Fuego.....     suuure.gif

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Brushbuffalo
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Brushbuffalo
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PostSun Jan 08, 2017 2:37 pm 
Langdon Greene wrote:
I suppose I should do a TR on Acatenango / Fuego.....    suuure.gif

Do it, please. There is a good deal of interest among folks contemplating interesting landscapes, flora and fauna, and  culture in warm places....and sampling good coffee.gif

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Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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jdk610
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PostMon Jan 09, 2017 3:50 pm 
Langdon, just now seeing your response. I went up to Acatenango too! I did it as a day-trip. I've been lazy about writing that TR but brush buffalo may have motivated me...

We also went to Atitlan, which was lovely.

We were there Dec 24 - Jan 3, so it sounds like there was definitely some overlap. Where did you guys stay in Antigua?

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