Majestic Acatenango is the toughest volcano climb in the Antigua region, an exhausting but exhilarating six- to seven-hour hike. Its summit peaks at 3975m, making it the third largest cone in the country. The route is along a trail of slippery volcanic ash that rises with unrelenting steepness through thick forest. Only for the last 50m or so does it emerge above the tree line, before reaching the top of the lower cone. To the south, after another hour’s gruelling ascent, is the summit, accessed via a great grey bowl, from where there’s a magnificent view out across the valley below. On the opposite side is the Agua volcano and, to the right, the fire-scarred cone of Fuego. Looking west you can see the three volcanic peaks that surround Lake Atitlán and beyond them the Santa María volcano, high above Quetzaltenango.

Several agencies in Antigua run hiking trips, usually involving camping halfway up the cone and then an ascent in the early hours of the morning.

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