This post is about extra tips and information of the Acatenango Hike. Read this other post first.
In this post I will cover:
- Trail Details
- Difficulty Level
- Descent / Going Down
- Other Tips
1) HIKING TRAIL DETAILS FOR ACATENANGO VOLCANO
Summit : 3,976 metres
Basecamp : 3,175 metres
Trailhead : about 2,300 metres
[Antigua: 1,533 metres]
Day 1 Trailhead to Basecamp : 875 metres
Day 2 Basecamp to Summit : 801 metres
Total Elevation Gain : 1,676 metres
2) DIFFICULTY LEVEL
Okay, the Difficulty Level, really…
Some people said that this is the most difficult hike they’ve ever done, and to be honest I was getting a little bit psyched whether I should do it since my knee has been “off” from a half marathon about a year ago. Here’s what I think:
It is “Definitely Difficult,” as they say BUT….
... Is it that difficult? In my opinion…No, not IF you’re physically fit. Because:
(a) you stop every 20-30 minutes or so for breaks
(b) everyone in my group, even those in sneakers (don’t wear sneakers) finished. Struggled, but finished.
A 1,500m elevation gain and hiking up at 4AM in scree is not fun, nor easy. And the elevation makes you short of breath much quicker, hence the frequent stops. If that didn’t makes any sense, you will struggle. If you don’t know what “scree” is, you will learn what scree is and hate it going up. And you may hate it or love it going down.
It’s so do-able though so don’t let anyone scare or discourage you if you’re a decently fit person.
If by any chance you’re from a mountainous region, you’ll be even better off. A Norwegian couple in my group didn’t find it difficult after recently been hiking in the Rockies in Canada, where I’m from. My tent mate a 49 year-old runner managed just fine too (3 litres of water was not enough for him btw).
I found it to be a mixture between 2 hikes I know from the Rockies: The first 2-3 hours were like of the mid-section of Yamnuska, following 2-3 hours (completed in the wee hours) to be like upper part of Cirque Peak in Banff National Park.
There is almost no coverage for peeing or pooping up at basecamp. This is especially more difficult for women.
There was only one makeshift outhouse shared by two sites. Bring toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
Best to empty your bowels before you go up.
3) GOING DOWN
Scree (loose rock) it the funnest part. You hated it going up but you’ll love it going down.
If you’re not used to it can be a little bit scary going down on. But you just lean back and keep lifting your legs.
Something to try is linking arms with a partner and bolting down as fast as you can. It feels a lot more stable and insane fun.
Also, going down can be a little hard on the knees, especially if you have had trouble from them before (like me!). Getting knee guards in Antigua beforehand may be a good idea.
4) OTHER TIPS
Hiking pole: Not necessary but helpful to have. If you don’t have one you can buy a stick for Q50 at the base.
Water: Drink all day the day before to make sure you are properly hydrated. Dehydration increases your risk for pulling muscles and injury. At high altitudes, you are losing more water than you would at lower elevations.
Food: Bring extra food. The food portions are Guatemalan. And you will be hungry.
Camera: If you want to capture the lava at night, bring a proper camera. It was hard to capture on my phone.
Altitude Matters! Don’t neglect this important part. Altitude sickness occurs 2,500 metres. If this hike is scheduled at the beginning of your trip and you are not used to that elevation, just take that into account. If you don’t know what the elevation of your current city is find out. 3 people in my group were affected by it.
Cold: I’m from Canada and it’s cold. Warm jacket (can be borrowed from Gilmer’s place) gloves, scarf and the likes.