Pacaya Volcano Hiking in Guatemala (With A Fantasy Twist)

My pre-climb meal and my overly high expectations.
My pre-climb meal…and my overly high expectations.

When you allow your imagination to get the better of you, whilst planning to hike an active volcano in the heart of Antigua, Guatemala – it usually goes a little something like this…

Although your quadriceps feel like a thousand tons of lead, after the hours upon hours of brutal uphill hiking – you fight against the odds and clamber your way to the top with the very last part of glycogen reserve in your tired, weary, aching body.

You stand proud atop the beast that you have just conquered, but it’s bittersweet as you fight back the painful tears as you remember the many good men that you lost along the way.

Suddenly, a Latina version of Kate Beckinsale (wearing one of those tops that slightly hang off one shoulder, revealing her perfectly shaped collarbone, because who doesn’t like a sexy clavicle?!) loses her footing and cascades towards the unapologetically savage lava below. You make a valiant dive and catch her by the arm, as she hangs there over the gaping, boiling magma. It’s all on you now, champ.

You both try to ignore the obvious sexual tension, because you know – time and a place and all that. With every last bit of energy you have, you pull her up like the hero everyone knew you were and she gratefully collapses into your big, safe, strong, vascular arms.

Some years later, after making many mixed-raced babies together, you’re at a dinner party and someone mentions the word “volcano.” You fall silent and despondent as it all comes back to you. Because you’re still tight after all these years, she just ‘gets’ it and makes a polite excuse to leave the party.

When you both get home, she understands that you need to retreat to the balcony (overlooking the ocean) with a glass of award-winning Malbec to gather in your own thoughts. Yet she comes out and gives you a warm hug at exactly the right time, her hair smells like rain and she looks up at you with those dreamy hazel brown eyes as she whispers; “mi amor, vamos a la cama” and you make sweet, passionate love all night to that Cuban band that was playing on the night that you proposed to her.

You spoon to ‘Only Fools and Horses’ reruns and although she doesn’t understand the odd British humour – she laughs, because it makes you fu**ing happy and she can’t be when her man is not.

She falls asleep with her bouncy curly hair on your Hugh Jackman-esque chest to Nina Simone’s; ‘I put a spell on you’ and you ignore the fact that you really need a post-coital wee because she looks so comfortable and you don’t want to disturb her inner peace.

Aaaaaaand back to reality…


Don’t fall for the exaggerated claims on Trip Advisor from buoyant, chest-beating, American frat boys – the hike is not difficult by even the lowest of fitness standards. Two hours max and you’re at the highest point that you can be – and to call it a live volcano, at least when I was there is somewhat of an embellishment too. But saying that – it did get so angry in 2010 that Guatemalan air space had to completely shut down for a few weeks due to the resulting ash cloud!

I’m probably just being a volcano snob – Mount Yasur set the active volcano bar way too high!

But don’t let that put you off – the scenery of the hike is spectacular, so it’s more of a lovely photo opportunity than a gruelling fitness test. It’s no mystery here ladies and gents – just rock up to a tour company whilst staying in Antigua and sort out a lift for your day of preference. Have fun, and keep your dirty little hands off my Latina Kate B! 😉

The top of Pacaya.
The top of Pacaya.

Join the Conversation


  1. Ray Reply

    Love your sense of humour while capturing your underwhelming visit to Pacaya!

  2. Cate Brubaker Reply


  3. Backpacking Through Thailand Reply

    Better than the volcanos in Nicaragua? (if you’ve done that) Would be interested to know!

  4. Arpita Garg Reply

    wow that foods is looking so delicious and yummy.

  5. Ciku Reply

    Great article…..That pre-hike meal looks yummy! I would love to hike Pacaya Volcano, some day.