volcan pacaya hike

It seems that every Volcano in Guatemala is different. They each have their own story and every hike is not the same. Volcan Pacaya is no different. Since I chose not to hike to Volcan Fuego when doing the Volcan Acatenango hike, I felt I had to redeem myself. When I heard about this hike and that I had a chance to walk next to lava, I instantly wanted to do this. Unfortunately, we weren’t that lucky. They said this is actually quite rare and especially since at the time, Fuego was very active. It is said these 2 volcanos are connected and thus if one is very active, the other isn’t. Still, I think it was an amazing and unique experience completing the Volcano Pacaya hike.

The weather surrounding volcanos, especially active ones, is very hard to predict. There wasn’t much of a view for us from any point during the hike. It was honestly fine because the real reason you go is to feel the texture of the rocks and eat a marshmallow heated by Volcano Pacaya itself. If you want views then I suggest hiking San Pedro Volcano on Lake Atitlan. In this guide, I will teach you some of the facts about Pacaya Volcano as well as what the Pacaya Volcano hike entails. At the very bottom will be information about gear and other things to do around Antigua.

pacaya volcano hike

Pacaya Volcano Facts

There are 37 volcanos located all throughout Guatemala. Each one of these volcanos has its own history behind it. Pacaya Volcano first erupted over 23,000 years ago. It became dormant for a long period of time before becoming more active in 1961. Since then there have been more frequent eruptions of Fuego but Volcan Pacaya still can put on a show of her own. These 2 volcanos are linked together so if one is extremely active then the other one is usually not. With a quick drive of just over an hour from Antigua, the Volcano Pacaya hike is a must on your list of activities.

Pacaya Volcano Eruption of 2010 and 2021

The most recent massive eruption of Volcan Pacaya was in 2021 but a far more devastating one occurred in 2010. Ash littered the air and was pelting civilians as far as Guatemala City. An evacuation was started but there were still some casualties. In 2021 villages were asked to evacuate once again but refused to do so.

volcano pacaya eruption

Pacaya Volcano Hike Details

  • Distance: 3.2 miles out and back
  • Time: Roughly 2-3 hours depending on how long you stay in certain areas
  • Elevation: 1500 feet (450 meters) of elevation gain
  • Difficulty: Alltrails ranks this route as hard but the route we took was more of a moderate rating
  • Height: 2,552 meters (this is very short compared to some of the surrounding volcanos)

Pacaya Volcano Location

pacaya volcano location

For full access to the location of the Pacaya Volcano hike then click here

Pacaya Volcano Cost

The price to do the Pacaya Volcano hike can vary depending on who you talk to and if you’re doing the sunrise one or not. We chose to do it through our hostel at Maya Papaya. The cost of this tour was 150 Quetezales ($20). This did not include the entrance fee which was an extra 50 Quetzales ($6.50). This tour included transportation to and from, a very knowledgeable guide about the area, and marshmallows that are heated by Volcan Pacaya itself. Overall this is a great deal. Here is a link to a reputable tour guide for the same price as we found.

pacaya volcano tour

My Suggested Hiking Gear

Below is a list of some of my favorite hiking/travel gear I bring everywhere. Everything below is something I currently use and never leave my house without.

  • KEEN Durand II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots: I finally upgraded my hiking boots in 2022 and these are fantastic. They have top-notch ankle support and are super durable.
  • Petzl Tikka Headlamp: A headlamp for hiking is a must if you’re like me and love sunrise hikes. This is a great price for a quality headlamp and also has a good red light to not disturb others in the morning.
  • Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks: I originally got these as a present but I had to buy more because these are the most comfortable hiking socks I’ve ever tried on.
  • Grayl GeoPress Water Filter Bottle: You will never have to rebuy plastic water bottles. This is the best water filtering device on the market. It is excellent for hikers and travelers alike.

Other Important Gear

On any hike more than a walk in the park, you should bring the right equipment. The Volcan Pacaya hike is no different. Although this hike is a lot shorter than the other popular ones in Guatemala, it still can be challenging at certain points. Below is a list of recommended equipment that I suggest as well as the tour companies suggest that you bring.

  • Jacket
  • Sunglasses
  • Sun Hat
  • Cash
  • Sun Screen
  • Water
  • Snacks
volcano pacaya hike

Pacaya Volcano Difficulty

Overall, the trail is very easy and most individuals won’t have a hard time at all. They do offer walking sticks and a horse but it is not needed at all. The terrain is unique in some areas because you are on active volcano.

There will be sections where your feet sink into the ground but that is part of the experience.

My Experience of the Volcano Pacaya Hike

The Volcano Pacaya hike is not your normal hike in Guatemala. It is also very unique when comparing it to the other volcanos in and around the area. The terrain of Pacaya Volcano has been shaped by the slow flow of lava when it erupts. This makes for a very interesting hike that will have you guessing what it looks like around the next corner. For how cheap this hike is, I was shocked at the number of interesting features that we ran into.

The hike starts at the park entrance where you will have to pay an additional 50 Quetzales. Here they will give you wristbands to enter the park. Once you go through, you can use the restroom if you need to and there will be a quick overview of the park and what the hike will entail. Our guide showed us some Pacaya, which grows around the surrounding area. Shortly after we began the Volcan Pacaya hike.

volcan pacaya plant
volcano pacaya hike
volcano pacaya hike

Section 1

The beginning of the trail takes you through a forest and next to some farmlands. The soil surrounding volcanos typically has good soil to grow crops in. This is why growing coffee in Guatemala is so popular. The trail starts to have a slight increase in the incline but it’s nothing too crazy at all. There were people following us for the majority of the time with a horse trying to get someone to pay for a ride up. One girl did it and it cost her 50 Quetzales for only the ride to the top. For the most part, this won’t be necessary at all. Some people opted to buy a stick from the kids at the entrance for 10 Quetezales each but this is also not needed. After about 45 minutes into the Volcano Pacaya hike, you won’t ever need it again.

volcano pacaya hike weather
volcano pacaya hike

Section 2

After hiking for about 45 minutes you will get to a section of a steep incline that gives you the feeling of being at the end of the hike already. When we got to this section, the clouds were rolling in and we had almost zero visibility besides the people around us. We thought this was it and the adventure was over. That couldn’t have been further from the truth. After taking a few group photos we continued onto a path that lead seemingly nowhere. Our guide then said, “Ok guys, we’re gonna slide down this mountain now” and then he was gone into the clouds. We were all confused at first and then we followed him down the mountain. This must have shaved off a bunch of time from our hike and was honestly super exhilarating.

volcano pacaya
volcano pacaya hike
pacaya volcano hike

Section 3

Shortly after sliding our way down the mountain, we hiked for a few more minutes on the side of the volcano. This was the part of the Volcano Pacaya hike that was really wild to me. It really felt like you were walking through an area that just had a huge volcanic eruption. We stopped for a minute to clean out our shoes of rocks and continued on. Here he went over some old areas where lava was once flowing out. It was here that we felt some intense heat.

We continued onwards for a few more minutes where we ended up staying to cook our marshmallows. And let me tell you, these were the best marshmallows I’ve ever had. There was also a very small pizza restaurant that cooked whatever pizza you want inside the volcano! Super cool but it was around $40 for one pizza so we decided to pass. After we ate our marshmallows and took a few more pictures, we headed back down cutting through some paths to get down faster.

volcano pacaya hike
volcano pacaya pizza
volcano pacaya marshmellow

My Final Thoughts on Volcano Pacaya Hike

When I read some other blogs and saw other pictures of the Volcano Pacaya hike, my imagination went crazy. The idea of lava flowing right next to us was something I couldn’t put a price tag on. Unfortunately, we weren’t lucky enough to see this. It is said that this is actually quite rare but can definitely happen. Once we got to the top and we couldn’t see anything, I got extremely disappointed. I thought we just came on a bad day and there were going to be no more chances of seeing anything cool. I was wrong. The Volcano Pacaya hike is totally worth the money and especially if you’re lucky enough to see lava. There are not many places in the world where you get to hike through multiple environments and end the day by eating a volcano marshmallow.

Thank you for reading my guide to the Pacaya Volcano hike. This is a very affordable activity that I hope you don’t miss out on!

Other Activities to do in Antigua, Guatemala

Antigua, Guatemala is a magical town that feels like a European town in Central America. The cobblestone streets and old buildings take you back in time. Everyone you meet is nice and the coffee is amazing. This country and especially this town should be on everyone’s list when traveling to Latin America. Some other great activities you can include but are not limited to an ATV tour as well as visiting Hobbitenango. Below are a handful of other activities that you can choose to do during your visit to this amazing country.

Subscribe To My Travel Newsletter

Receive top travel tips, news and adventure ideas!

Invalid email address
Give it a try. You can unsubscribe at any time.