I have another volcano story for you. Yesterday, I’ve attended a guided tour to the volcano Pacaya. Pacaya is one of three active volcanoes in Guatemala. It is situated 25 km south east of Antigua Guatemala.
We went there in a van operated by a travel agency. After picking up several other people, we were on our way, leaving Antigua on the highway, or “carretera” as they call it here in Guatemala. We had to cross a mountain range, and again i was surprised to see how steep the highways are in Guatemala. After passing the cities of Villa Nueva and Amatitlán, we drove uphill for a while, until we reached a small town called San Francisco de Sales, where our hike began. Children were renting hiking sticks for 5 Quetzales (~80 cents), so I took the opportunity. There was also the possibility to rent a horse, but I passed on that one. It was a quite steep path uphill, and after climbing more or less 400 m, we reached a viewpoint at an altitude of around 2250 m above sea level. The peak of Pacaya is at an altitude of 2552 m above sea level, so we were ~300 m below the peak at that point. In any case, going further up would not have been a good idea, because during these days, Pacaya is very active. It was spectacular. I would not have guessed that we really see glowing lava being ejected from the top of the volcano.
What followed could not be more touristy: The guides gave us marshmallows, and we could roast them in an earth hole within the volcanic rocks. I was surprised how hot it was inside these holes, my hands were outside the whole quickly. Comparable to a bake oven.
The sun went down just as we finished our walk, and we were able to witness a beautiful sunset. The sun went down just next to the three volcanoes surrounding Antigua: Agua, Fuego and Acatenango.
In the meanwhile, Pacaya continued to eject glowing rocks, and as it went darker and darker, it got even more spectacular. We had to say goodbye to Pacaya too soon, and started walking down. Fortunately I had a lamp with me, it was pitch dark when we got down to San Francisco de Sales, where the kids were eager to get hold of the walking stick that I had brought down with me.