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Acatenango Hiking Mistakes to Avoid


Having guided over 40,000 hikers up Acatenango Volcano,  We know a good bit about which common mistakes people make and how to avoid them.  When you decide to embark on the exhilarating adventure that is the Acatenango hike, you are signing up for a trekking experience unlike any other.  Acatenango is a stunning stratovolcano in Guatemala, it offers breathtaking views, diverse fauna and flora, and the undeniable rush of standing atop one of Central America’s tallest peaks.

Fuego erupting from Acatenango

The reward of the hike.

However, as majestic and enchanting as the trek is, there are common Acatenango hiking mistakes that people often make, which can turn the thrilling expedition into a challenging ordeal. Here are a few you should avoid:

1. Insufficient Fitness Levels:

The Acatenango trek is a rigorous physical activity, requiring both strength and endurance.  Recognising that the Acatenango hike is a difficult hike means that hikers should only undertake this challenge if they feel that they have a decent level of fitness and will be able to endure 4-5 hrs of walking at a steep incline.

Acatenango hike views

The hike to the summit will test your fitness levels.

2. Inadequate Clothing:

The weather on Acatenango can be unpredictable. Despite Guatemala’s warm climate, the temperatures can plummet to near freezing levels at the peak, especially at night. Packing layers of thermal clothing, waterproof gear, and sturdy hiking boots is essential.

3. Ignoring Altitude Sickness:

This hiking mistake is one we see a lot, especially when people have just flew into the country or have spent some time at the beach.  Altitude sickness is a common yet often overlooked issue. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, and nausea, and they can escalate if left unattended.  Ascending slowly, staying hydrated, and acclimating to the altitude a few days prior to the hike can mitigate these effects.   Antigua is at 1500m approximately so a few days in Antigua before your hike should be enough.  We discourage anyone who is coming from the beach to climb for a few days.

4. Overpacking or Under-packing:

It’s a delicate balance. You need to pack essentials like water, high-energy snacks, headlamps, thermal clothes.   If you are planning on climbing the volcano without a guide it is highly advisable that you pack a first-aid kit and navigation tools too as it is not uncommon for unguided hikers to get lost.   An overly heavy backpack will drain your energy quickly so it’s important to prioritise essentials.   Equally detrimental is neglecting necessary items which could prove crucial during the hike.

5. Neglecting Hydration and Nutrition:

One of the most common Acatenango Hiking mistakes is also one of the most important. Your body will burn an immense amount of energy on this strenuous hike. Dehydration and lack of nutrition will lead to fatigue and possibly more severe health issues. Regularly hydrate and snack on energy-boosting foods throughout the hike.

6. Not Hiring a Guide:

The Acatenango trails can be challenging to navigate, especially for first-time hikers.  Hiring a local guide not only supports the local economy but also ensures you are in safe and knowledgeable hands.  Hiring a guide with Tropicana also makes your hike much easier as we supply all your camping gear so you don’t have to carry it.

7. Disrespecting the Environment:

Acatenango is not just a tourist site; it’s a precious natural ecosystem. Littering, going off-trail, and disrupting flora and fauna are actions that can cause substantial harm.  Follow the principles of Leave No Trace to ensure the beauty of Acatenango is preserved for future generations.

In conclusion, hiking Acatenango Volcano is an incredible adventure that can turn into a lifetime memory if done right. By avoiding these common Acatenango hiking mistakes, you can ensure a more enjoyable, safe, and fulfilling trekking experience on the majestic Acatenango volcano. Happy hiking!


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