Guatemala: Volcanoes and Highlands

This trekking-based journey across Guatemala begins and ends with three impressive volcano ascents, linked by a dramatic overland route from Spanish-Colonial Antigua to the stunning waters of Lake Atitlan.  An undoubted highlight is sleeping on the side of 10,000ft Acatanango Volcano as the lava flows of nearby Fuego Volcano come alive.  We finish at Tajamulco, Central America’s highest point, offering views of multiple countries.  This is a multi-day trekking journey, across a wide variety of climates, including high altitude, challenging days, and camping. It is a well-supported trek, with a strong cultural component, as you hike trails used by indigenous highlanders.  Our expert team has curated one-of-a-kind cultural experiences to compliment your trek.  We visit and study coffee plantations, learn native weaving, indigenous bread baking and much more along the way.  Finally, we tap into the incredible tapestry of Guatemalan culture at the famous market of Chichicastenang. No technical skills are needed on the volcanoes.

Trip Highlights

  • Visit UNESCO world heritage city, Antigua
  • Multi-day trekking journey, with a strong cultural component that weaves an incredible tapestry of Guatemalan cultures
  • Sleep on the side of 13,000 ft Acatanango as the lava flows off nearby Fuego Volcano
  • Explore a 5,000ft high caldera Lake Atitlan; home to a myriad of Mayan Villages
  • Climb the highest peak in Central America, Tajamulco

Trip Summary

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Day 1
Arrive Guatemala City, Transfer to Antigua

Arrival, meet your fellow trekkers, and private airport transfer to Antigua, the tranquil and historic capital of Guatemala tourism.

Difficulty: Easy
Day 2
Antigua City Tour

Break in your walking shoes with a morning guided walking tour of the old colonial houses and cobblestone alleys of this UNESCO World Heritage city. Learn about the complex colonial history of the city while sampling local chocolates, exploring ruins, and taking in the breathtaking views of the three volcanoes that surround the city.

Difficulty: Easy
Day 3
Overnight on Acatenango Volcano

Immerse yourself in the mountains today, with a private transfer to Acatenango volcano and an acclimatizing hike through four distinct microclimates, sharing trails with local farmers as you pass their corn, lily, and pea fields, emerging in an old-growth tropical cloud forest filled with birds, including the legendary Quetzal. We will enjoy lunch with a local family, then continue to ascend through the treeline to a campsite with sweeping views of Antigua and the justly named Fuego volcano, still spitting fire. Rest or explore the slopes of Acatenango until sunset and a fresh, hot dinner. After dark, peer down into the spectacular lava flows rolling down Fuego volcano, sights and sounds so rare it may just keep you up at night.

Hiking Time: 3 mi
Difficulty: Difficult
Day 4
Summit Acatanango Volcano

After breakfast, we undertake the short but steep climb to the chilly summit of Acatenango, scrambling up a trail of gravel scree to views that stretch all the way to Mexico. After approximately a three hour descent a private vehicle transfer returns you to Antigua for a free afternoon and restful night.

Hiking Time: 4.3 mi
Difficulty: Moderate
Day 5
San Adres Itzapa to Camp #1

After breakfast a transfer to the first trailhead, with a stop en route to admire a popular shrine to a Mayan deity known as “San Simon.”

Hiking Time: 7.6 mi
Difficulty: Moderate
Day 6
Camp Flores to Camp #2

Today the trek passes through a protected natural area and descends more than 3,000 feet through forest and farm fields to enter the La Vega valley. After a field lunch, you cross a swinging foot bridge of the La Vega river and climb a challenging but beautiful route through coffee farms and pine forest, arriving in mid-afternoon. Tonight we warm ourselves before a campfire dinner with panoramic views of Fuego volcano.

Hiking Time: 6 mi
Difficulty: Easy
Day 7
Camp Lava to Camp #3

Today is the highest point of the trek--working your way up through terraced fields, you have the chance to have organic local interactions and learn the traditional agriculture of the Mayans. We will cross Balam Juyu mountain, enjoying more breath-taking views of the volcanoes. Today we have the chance to learn how to make tortillas and bread with Mayan families and meet local weavers. Our last bit of hike for the day is a 3 km trail that will put us in our last and highest campsite overlooking Lake Atitlán. Here we will have a hot cup of coffee or chocolate and enjoy the bread we made earlier at the house of a local Mayan weaver.

Hiking Time: 12.5 mi
Difficulty: Difficult
Day 8
Transfer to Panibaj, Descend to Lake Atitlan

Today we'll take a morning ride to a local coffee grower where we receive a coffee demonstration and tasting. The final leg of your cross-country hike is a descent to the La Madre Vieja valley, where a river winds through small villages and a patchwork of fields. Descend via terraces filled with flower and vegetable crops to San Antonio Palopo, where you will be transferred to the bustling town of Panajachel, on the shores of Lake Atitlan. From here we have a short boat ride across the green waters to your hotel.

Hiking Time: 6 mi
Difficulty: Moderate
Day 9
Layover Day- Explore Lake Atitlan

Today we have a free morning. You can choose to explore the waters of Lake Atitlan by kayak or simply rest. In the late morning we will make our way to the local village of San Juan where we will have the opportunity to explore and learn about local artisan crafts. Back at the hotel choose to get a massage and soak in a wood-fired hot tub that sits perched at on the shores of Lake Atitlan. Tonight includes a communal dinner at the hotel.

Difficulty: Easy
Day 10
Overnight Summit at Volcano Santa Maria

Today is a busy day, we will depart early from Lake Atitlan and transfer by private bus to the trailhead of Volcano Santa Maria, near the city of Quetzaltenango- the former capital of Guatemala. From a small town outside Xela (Quetzaltenango's shorter nickname) we begin out ascent of Santa Maria, an active volcano boasting a lava dome that has grown inside the crater- this cute offspring of Santa Maria has been dubbed "Santaguito". Our ascent will take us through grassy meadows that give way to pine forests on the way to the summit of the volcano. If we are lucky with the weather, we are in for spectacular views of eight other volcanos- Acatenango, Fuego, Agua, Atitlan, San Pedro, Toliman, Tajamulco and Tacana. Also from the summit we can peer down into the crater to witness the eruptions of Santaguito from above.

Hiking Time: 4 mi
Difficulty: Difficult
Day 11
Descend Santa Maria- transfer Tajamulco- Begin Tajamulco Ascent

We begin our day taking in breathtaking views at sunrise but we will need to be on our way early to make it to our next destination. Tajamulco, the highest mountain in Central America, is located on the northern boarder with Mexico. We will have a 3-hour transfer to get to the trailhead near the town of Tuichan at almost 10,000 feet. Our ascent today will only cover a distance of 2 miles but due to the altitude and elevation gain it will take approximately 5 hours to reach our campsite for some well-deserved dinner and warm campfire as we watch the sun set over Central America.

Hiking Time: 4 mi
Difficulty: Difficult
Day 12
Summit Tajamulco- Transfer to Chichicastenango

Today we wake early for the sunrise and an early breakfast. Our route will take us around the crater of the volcano and up to the summit where it is said that the sunrise views from Tajamulco are some of the best in the world. We have quick descent to our transport, which will take us to the vibrant city of Chichicastenango- approximately 4 hours away. Here we will overnight at a hotel in preparation for a visit to the market the next day.

Hiking Time: .6 mi ascent/ 2.6mi descent
Difficulty: Moderate
Day 13
Chichicastenango Market - Departure

After a recuperative breakfast, your final day is spent in certainly the most colorful market in Latin America: Chichicastenango. Held twice a week, this famous market features vendors from across Guatemala’s tapestry of ethnic groups, especially the large K’iche’ Maya population and smaller linguistic groups like the Ixil, Kaqchikel, and Mam. This memorable morning includes a guided tour of an iconic local church, blending indigenous and Spanish influences. Keep your eyes open and you may luck into incredible encounters here, including ceremonies from various religions. In the early afternoon we return to Guatemala City for your flight home. Please book flights for after 5pm to allow for travel time.

Difficulty: Easy

Dates & Pricing


Double Occupancy
  • Feb 4
    Feb 16
    $3295 USD
  • Mar 5
    Mar 17
    $3295 USD
  • Jun 3
    Jun 15
    $3295 USD
  • Nov 4
    Nov 16
    $3295 USD

Above Costs Include:

  • All international and domestic airport transfers as per the program by private vehicle
  • All domestic transfers by private vehicle
  • 3 nights accommodation in Antigua & breakfasts while at the hotel
  • Guided city tour of Antigua
  • All park fees
  • All meals and accommodations while on trek
  • Accommodation, meals, insurance, equipment, transportation and allowances of guide and porter
  • All applicable government taxes

Cost Does Not Include:

  • Lunch & dinner in Antigua and other locations when not on trek.
  • International airfare
  • Bottled drinks (mineral water, any cold drinks, and alcoholic drinks).
  • Travel insurance & overseas medical insurance coverage
  • Expenses of personal nature (tips for guide, porter and driver, laundry, bar bill, etc.)
  • Liability for expenses against sickness, flight cancellation, road blockage, accidents and other occurrence beyond our control
  • Any other expenses not mentioned above
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