There is no shortage of rugged hiking trails for enjoying the spectacular mountain scenery and peaceful mountain villages found near Antigua .
Old Town Outfitters (5a Avenida Sur #12C, tel. 5339-0440, www.adventureguatemala.com ) and Guatemala Ventures (1a Avenida Sur #15, end of 6a Calle Oriente, tel. 7832-3383, www.guatemalaventures.com ), can point you to the best hiking trails. A guide is highly recommended, as robberies of solo hikers along remote mountain footpaths is sometimes an issue in rural Guatemala.
The bulk of the hiking done around Antigua involves one of the volcanoes towering ominously over its streets.
At 3,750 meters (12,325 feet) Agua Volcano is one of the most popular climbs because of its proximity to town, from which it invites hikers to attempt an ascent of its steep slopes to the near-perfect crater ringed with various radio antennas.
The trailhead is in the nearby village of Santa María de Jesús, from where it’s a five-hour ascent, though numerous tourist robberies have occurred through the years in the vicinity of this town.
Guatemala Ventures (1a Avenida Sur #15, end of 6a Calle Oriente, tel. 7832-3383, www.guatemalaventures.com ) drives farther up the road to a spot two hours from the summit and is the recommended way to go. A day trip costs $40 with this outfitter.
Just shy of 4,300 meters (14,000 feet), Acatenango Volcano is a safer and somewhat more interesting climb, as it has twin craters and often affords fantastic views of nearby Fuego Volcano, which entered a phase of increased activity in 1999.
Old Town Outfitters (5a Avenida Sur #12C, tel. 5339-0440, www.bikeguatemala.com ) offers a one-day ($49) or overnight ($69) trip to the volcano starting in the village of La Soledad, from where it’s a 5–6-hour hike through cornfields and pine forests to the first crater. The overnight trip camps on the second peak, which stands at 13,900 feet.
Guatemala Ventures also does this trip, driving to within two hours of the first summit and costing $59/$99 for the one-day and overnight trips.
By far the most popular volcano trip is to active Pacaya Volcano, near Lake Amatitlán and closer to Guatemala City. There’s no shortage of outfitters offering this trip, which generally leaves in the afternoon and costs $7–30 per person. Recommended companies include Old Town Outfitters (5a Avenida Sur #12C, tel. 5339-0440, www.bikeguatemala.com , $30 including lunch), which leaves earlier than most other companies to avoid the crowds.
Adrenalina Tours (5a Avenida Norte #31, tel. 7832-1108 or 5535-6831) leaves daily at 6 a.m. and 1 p.m. The trip costs $10–20 depending on whether or not you want a meal with your climb. The more expensive V.I.P. trip has a four-person minimum and also includes the $3 park admission fee. For your standard trip in the $5–7 vicinity, a good outfitter is Gran Jaguar Tours (4a Calle Poniente #30, tel. 7832-2712), leaving at 6 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Recommended by readers for all of the above trips is O.X. Outdoor Excursions (1a Avenida Sur #4B, tel. 7832-0074 or 5801-4301, www.guatemalavolcano.com ), offering well-guided trips to the Antigua area volcanoes. The Spires of Fire trip is a five-day adventure climbing Guatemala’s three active volcanoes (Fuego, Pacaya, and Santiaguito); it costs $500.