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January 2, 2010
From journal 4 Days in Antigua, Guatemala
Rohnert Park, California
February 11, 2005
Climbing Pacaya was a great experience. It's safe and secure going with a tour company and yet you're able to appreciate the nice hike on your own.
You begin in a small village called San Francisco de Sales, which is likely highly dependant on the revenue it receives from tourists’ entrance fees. Children and women are at the ready to sell you plasticos para la lluvia (rain ponchos) and bottled water for the way up and cold drinks and snacks on your way down. A troupe of starving dogs even made the climb with our group and were rewarded with bits of our lunches.
The trail at first winds through a lovely shaded forest, allowing to see the peaks of Pacaya up ahead and of Antigua in the distance, along with the volcanoes that surround it. I was out of breath quickly, and although it was cool, I broke a good sweat.
Eventually we burst from this forest into a desolate landscape that looked out of this world. It was all volcanic rock and sand. It was possible to see where past eruptions had done their worst damage.
Trudging up the bare cone was the worst. The sand slipped away under each step and the climb was very steep. As progress was made, the smell of sulfur wafted through the air, and eventually, small vents of steam could be seen along the cone's trail.
The way down really was out of this world! You could run down the crater, making huge leaps because your steps were always cradled by the soft cone's material. It felt like I was weightless - the best part of the day I think!
I enjoyed the rest of the way down, daydreamed about my next adventure, and guzzled another water before napping against my soft backpack on the ride home.
From journal Colors of Paradise - Antigua, Guatemala
January 31, 2005
The hike is tough, although for part of the way they will offer you a donkey. Also, near the top they ask who wants to continue on, and some members of the group chose not to. Towards the top, your feet sink in volcanic ash, so it is difficult to step. Also, the air gets thin, making it difficult. It is well worth it when you get to the top. Getting to the crater is very cool and you feel a real sense of accomplishment.
From journal Guatemalan Travel
by Van Rhijn
New York, New York
June 4, 2004
The first part is good, about an hour and not too steep, with a few stops with gorgeous views. Then you reach the volcano, which is where the volcano rocks start. The rocks are loose and you easily slip away. It's very hard to find your balance and this walk takes about 45 minutes of steep climbing. The last 15 minutes are also tough because the air is very thin and you can smell the gasses of the volcano. But when you reach the top, it is very rewarding! You can feel the heat coming from the volcano. Unfortunately, we didn't have a good view because it was very cloudy, but on a clear day, you should have magnificent views.
I can definitely recommend it though; it's an amazing experience to climb an active volcano. The last time it erupted was 2000, so it's quite safe.
From journal Beatiful Antigua
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
January 16, 2001
From journal Antigua