Photographer's Note

Volcán Acatenango (3976 m), Guatemala

One of my most memorable hiking experiences. The vast majority of people do this hike in two days. I was short on time and wanted to save money, so I went without a guide. A guy from my hostel, Jay, agreed to join. However, he quickly after beginning the hike changed his mind. So that left me by myself.rnrnThe first part went fast. I was keeping a steady pace, passing tens of people on my way past the three cabins along the way. After a while, I reached a campsite. At that point, I realized I should have brought more than half a liter of water.

The next climb hit me hard. I could suddenly feel the altitude playing in. Had to take a break every 10 meters or so as I ascended between dead trees and the final layer of clouds. All the time I saw a hill in front of me, thinking it was the summit. But there was always another one. The view was beautiful though, I could only see a few peaks rise above the clouds.

Eventually, the vegetation was gone and I was walking on volcanic rocks, thinking the summit was finally right there in front of me. It had to be the one. To my huge disappointment, it was only now that the summit became visible. I had to descend towards the crater and then climb the final ridge to the summit.

By the crater, I took a little nap before the last ridge. I continued taking breaks every 10 meters or so, but eventually made it to the summit. There the view opened up to neighboring Volcán de Fuego, one of the most consistently erupting volcanoes on earth. It erupts approximately every second hour. I was lucky to admire the view from the western edge of the summit exactly at the time it erupted. Had just turned around when I heard a loud noise. With my camera in hand, I was quick to react.

Being there all alone at the summit, above the clouds, was a magical experience.

On the way down, I had to be quick. I was mostly running down. Reaching the road, I was surprised to see Jay had been waiting for me. He told me the last bus had already left and we needed to rely on hitchhiking. 20 minutes later, as it was about to get dark, a pickup driver agreed to drive us to the nearest village, where he lived. He could drive us all the way but wanted a whole lot of money for that. As the traffic seemed to increase, we declined the offer. 4 kilometers of walking later, passing several people carrying rifles, we changed our minds. Maybe we should just head back to the pickup driver.

So we did. He invited us in for some coffee before driving us all the way back to Antigua. So if you're climbing Acatenango relying on local buses, get back before 3 pm.

Volcán de Fuego was earlier this year the site of the 30th deadliest recorded eruption in history, with 159 casualties.

ikeharel, ChrisJ, jimmyjimmy, pajaran ha contrassegnato questa nota come utile

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Additional Photos by Fredrik Henriksen (Bergenphotos) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 271 W: 53 N: 654] (3326)
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