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“Active tour, you don't get to go to the top.” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Pacaya Volcano

Pacaya Volcano
Antigua, Guatemala
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Top Rated
$73*
and up
Pacaya Volcano Day Trip from Antigua
Ranked #7 of 31 Attractions in Antigua
Type: Volcanos, Outdoors
Attraction details
Atlanta, Georgia
Senior Contributor
38 reviews 38 reviews
18 attraction reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
30 helpful votes 30 helpful votes
“Active tour, you don't get to go to the top.”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 2, 2013

We went with a tour group to Pacaya and expected it to be an "easy" hike as was stated in the brochure. My husband and I are very active runners and are in very good shape. I had a very tough time with this hike. The ground is mostly a sand-like consistency, which makes it difficult to get your footing, and your clothes will get very dusty. I realized, about 20 minuted into the hike, that the reason I was so winded was also because of the altitude. I would classify the hike as moderate to difficult, but the guides do a good job stopping and letting people catch up. There were some older people in our group that definitely benefited from the breaks. You don't actually get to go to the top of the volcano, rather you go next to it and look at it, a bit disappointing. Parts of the hike back down were on a different path and was quite slow moving. It was so steep that I kept expecting to fall and slide down on my butt. Overall, this was a nice experience and good exercise. I would definitely put this on your "to-do" list.

Visited December 2012
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Lower Mainland, BC
Top Contributor
98 reviews 98 reviews
38 attraction reviews
Reviews in 42 cities Reviews in 42 cities
65 helpful votes 65 helpful votes
“Not as easy as I had thought”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 1, 2013

Booked the tour with Mayan Tours who shares an office with a photographer. They forgot to pick me up at the hotel so I had to try again the next day. The tour company returned my money so I was given a free tour. That was really nice of them. There were 12 of us in the van which took an hour and a half to get to the volcano. Tour itself was U$10 but at the site one is charged an entry fee of 500Q which includes a guide up the volcano. Initially I thought I could do the 5 km climb to the top but found it too difficult after 2 kms. Luckily there were horses that accompanied us and I had to use the horse to get me up to the top (U$10). Once on top, there were great views, steam vents, even small holes (pits) in the hardened lava one can crawl in to experience a unique sauna of sorts. Since the hotel pickup starts at 2 (often 5 to 15 mins. late depending on the number of people joining the tour) one does not start descending the volcano until after dark. Be sure to take a torch with you. Going down in the dark was terrible as the path is not marked at all so you can easily stray from the group if you are slow. I was glad a few of the men stayed with me. Our guide never asked us for extra money but didn't really keep track of everyone he was supposed to be looking after. Still I don't regret the tour, but one has to be in pretty good shape to do the climb. Otherwise, get on the horse.

Visited December 2012
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Tel Aviv
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
6 attraction reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
“Great trip - but beware Atitrans Tours”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 30, 2012

The Pacaya Volcano is great - it is a medium stress hike up and down (I am 52 years old and in unperfect shape....). Our guide, Liliana, was kind and interesting. We did, however, want to warn travelers about Atitrans Tours - we used them because they advertise that they use their own employees for tours and that appears to be true on the shuttles from Antigua to Panajachel. In this case, however, they subcontracted the "piece of junk" minivan service (broken windows, no handles on doors, holes in seats). The only thing that did not make this "minivan" a death trap was that it only went about 20MPH. To make matters worse, the driver spent over an hour driving around Antigua picking up people (putting 15 people in a 12 person van). Instead of arriving at Pacaya at 3:30 we arrived an hour later, thus having to rush up the volcano to see the sunset. So choose your tour company carefully and ask lots of questions.

Visited December 2012
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Melbourne
Senior Contributor
32 reviews 32 reviews
8 attraction reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
42 helpful votes 42 helpful votes
“Harder than I thought it would be but great value for money”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 28, 2012

When you get to Antigua, you'll inevitably be handed a flyer for one of the local tour companies offering tours to Pacaya. We ended up going with Ash, which charged $10 per person for pick up at our hotel, transportation to Pacaya, a hiking guide and transportation back to the main square. Pick up was 2pm and drop off was around 7:15pm.

Transportation was comfortable enough in a 15 passenger van that was completely full for the 1.5 hour drive. Our guide spoke little English but was nice enough guiding us along the barely there trail. Don't expect a full service tour where he is telling you about lava flows, fauna, history, etc as the guide seems to be solely there to make sure no one does anything stupid.

The hike wasn't brutal but it was definitely harder than I thought it would be. You walk uphill for a solid hour on a barely there trail on loose rocks. If you are unfit at all, don't do this as you won't enjoy yourself. There is an option to rent a horse for 100Q to take you part of the way if things are desperate for you once you start.

You don't go to the summit but get near enough to it that it seems very close and there is enough heat in the ground to roast marshmallows! Our guide brought a bag for all to share but best check with whatever company you go with as it was a great moment to roast a marshmallow on a volcano! This is also when you get the longest rest to look around, take photos and sit down. Not sure if we had a late start or whatever but we had a very quick pace on the way up which felt very rushed.

Hike down was fine but we went a different way which had us going through knee deep lava rocks. I don't know the technical term but its where you have to kind of run down the hill as your feet are sliding out underneath you as you walk. I just got in a groove and went for it as if you think too much, it just gets harder. But this was pretty steep and a solid 10 minutes of this type of descent, so be self aware enough of your own fitness level. Back to the trail we took up after that, which was great as it was a bit easier, allowing us to appreciate the sunset, which was amazing.

For the $8 - $12 the local tour companies charge, this is great value for money. Just bring appropriate footwear and clothing as it gets COLD up there as the sun starts to dip. Enjoy!

Visited December 2012
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San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Senior Contributor
45 reviews 45 reviews
6 attraction reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
45 helpful votes 45 helpful votes
“Steer clear of Onvisa Travel when booking the volcano”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed December 22, 2012

We booked a tour through Onvisa Travel to see the volcano. Stay aware from them and their nasty guides! We were an hour late leaving Antigua because they overbooked the tour and had to find a van to fit us all. The driver was a mad man, probably trying to make up for lost time. We hiked to a stopping point called The Lava Store, at which point he would not take the group any further unless we paid him more. What a shifty, horrible guide. 7 in the group decided to pay him, 5 of us on principle said no. He left without us (taking the local guide with him) so that we went down alone in the dark with three kids. It would have been so easy to get lost as you're traveling across many paths and changing directions. It was December so very dark at 7pm.

We had been told the volcano was active but there was no lava or smoke. Those who went said they got to a hole where you could find heat (though not at the summit--don't expect you're climbing to the top of volcano and looking down in).

Cannot say enough about what a disappointment ONVISA Travel was. There are so so many tour companies in town. Do not use them.

Visited December 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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