My favourite city of Guatemala
& an amazing volcano hike.
For me, Antigua was definitely the most beautiful city I visited in Guatemala. Back in the days, Antigua was the capital of Guatemala. Because of the great forces of mother nature (read: a lot of earthquakes) they moved the capital of Guatemala more east: the modern known Guatemala City. When in Antigua, I stayed in the Jungle Party Hostel which was fun because they had a nice bar (with swings) and you can sleep in a giant room with 27(!) mattresses on the floor. We thought it was very cosy, but if you want a bit more luxury or you’re not an easy sleeper you can book a fancier room for only a bit more. Antigua is a beautiful city with old colourful houses and it’s just fun to wander around and enjoy the vibe of the city and its colourful dressed locals.
Volcano Hike: Acatenango & Fuego
The most impressive part of Antigua is the amazing view created by the enormous volcano you will see when you’re walking through Antigua. And that brings me to the part of Antigua why most travellers are heading to this place: the volcano hikes. You can chose different hikes based on how fit and healthy you are and of course how big your budget is. We chose the two days hike on the volcano Acatenango. It’s about a 6,5 hour hike all the way up which is very hard because it’s only up up up and the altitude is an intense experience (it feels like you’re out of breathe when you’ve taken two steps). And besides that, you have to carry your tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, food an drinks with you, which make it even a harder challenge. So big tip #1: if you want to go on a volcano hike: be prepared! When we booked our hike they didn’t really inform us so we had to rent a backpack which made it harder because it didn’t fit us. If you can bring your own bag, do it! It will be way better for your back which will made this hike a lot better. And if you’re with the two of you you can divide the weight as well.
The hike was hard, but it was so beautiful! It’s amazing when you’re walking in the clouds, it’s just like walking in a movie scenery. And once you’re above the clouds it’s even more beautiful. You truly feel like you’re on top of the world! I will let the pictures speak for themselves. After the 6,5 hour hike we arrived at an amazing little spot where we set up our camp. And the most amazing part: you will be right in front of the volcano Fuego, which was extremely active when we were there. It erupted almost every fifteen minutes! This truly felt like a major bucket list check in my life. It’s even more spectacular at night because you can see the lava! We were on 4000 metres (wow!) which made it a very cold area. So tip #2: bring enough clothes with you! When you’re hiking you’ll be very warm but as soon as you’re standing still you will be cold very quickly.
At our camping site we spent our night. We had amazing hot chocolate at the campfire which the guide had for us. And the view was just breathtaking. For sure this was the most amazing sunset I have ever seen in my life. At 4am in the morning we woke up because the last part of the hike. The last hike will take you about an hour and it’s very slippery and steep, so it’s not easy! We didn’t bring any flashlights so we decided not to continue this part. Which was sad, because this part of the hike will take you to the top of the volcano which will give you a 360 degrees view! So major tip #3: bring a flashlight! Still, we had a good time while a part of the group was gone, because we had a very beautiful sunrise on top of this amazing volcano.
After the group was reunited again we had breakfast together and started our hike downwards. Because the volcano is so steep we couldn’t really walk down, because it turned into running! So we were back in no time (about two hours). For me this two day hike was the hardest but also the most impressive thing I’ve done in my life so far. So I definitely would recommend to go! Last tip #4: take enough food and water with you! You will get some food during your hike, but it’s not a lot. Of course you can decide to book a fancier hike where more stuff is included, but that’s up to you.
Amazing lunch & massages
We returned to our hostel in Antigua in the end of the morning. We decided that we deserved some luxury so we had an amazing lunch at Luna de Miel, a restaurant where they serve sweet and savoury crepes and fresh and tasty smoothies. If they still have the crêpe with goat cheese and honey: take it (it’s heaven)! After that we had a massage which was just what we needed. Antigua has a lot of spas so just walk around Antigua and you find something you like in no time!
Another thing we’ve done was a day trip to Chichicastenango, a town in the highlands of Guatemala. This little town has the biggest traditional market of whole Central America and that’s not weird if you realise that the majority of the inhabitants are Mayans. The market is every Thursday and Sunday and you can find almost everything, from flowers and animals to souvenirs.
I absolutely loved this place! The market is so colourful and there are a lot of Mayan people still wearing their traditional clothes. This market is the perfect place if you want to go souvenir shopping or if you want to dive in the Mayan culture. In the middle of the market you’ll find the Saint Thomas Church where a lot of market vendors try to sell their stuff. This place is also the area where the locals offering food to the Mayan god of the earth.