Our alarm this morning went off at 4.45am so that we could be up, breakfasted and at the OX shop by 6am this morning for our hike up to Volcan Acatenango.
Once at the shop we finished our packing with sleeping bags, part of the tent and some food and met up with the rest of the group, outside of guides there were 10 of us in total – 3 Germans, 2 French Canadians, 2 Dutch, 1 American and us, of course. Then it was in the van and off to a restaurant for those who did not yet have breakfast. Finally it was time to go and we drove the approximately 1 hour to the trail-head where we got to sit for a minute to consider what we were about to partake in before getting on our way.
This first part of the hike was the worst for many reasons. Firstly, as the hike started at 2,500 metres in altitude, it was already a little taxing on the lungs as we quickly made our ascent I literally felt like I couldn’t breathe, and secondly, the ascent was a killer on gravelly volcanic scree up through farm lands. Thankfully there were many shorts stops along the way so we could take our time and actually enjoy the walk.
The day pretty much continued as that, climbing, being out of breath and taking the occasional break.
By the time we arrived it was about 2.30pm, so considering we had started just after 9am, we made it in pretty good time. At the top firstly we admired the view. In the last half hour or so we could hear Volcan Fuego erupting and making lots of groaning and grumbling, it was pretty incredible to hear, so when we eventually got to see it, it was pretty awesome!!
When at the top, well the base camp of Volcan Acatenango, that is, we got to rest for about an hour and a half until we were off again. Well, that is us and the 2 French Canadians – Abby and Oliver, as we were the only 4 crazy enough to follow up our 5+ hour hike with another 4 hours, across to Volcan Fuego! (Or in distance terms another lazy 6kms!!!)
This next portion, was simple madness!! I still cannot believe I completed it. As we were on Acatenango, we had to climb down and then back up again to get to Fuego. It was intense. In the valley between the two mountains it was pretty amazing though, as the sound from Fuego just reverberated around the valley and we heard the groans and grumbles echoing around. As an FYI – Fuego is still an active volcano (obviously from the eruptions spewing out of it, and Acatenango is dormant…for now…).
We sat right next to Fuego for ages just enjoying the amazing view of not just one, but 3 other volcanoes off in the distance. It was a bit unfortunate as we got to Fuego it was largely clouded in, though it did clear every now and then for us to get some great glimpses of the beast. Before the sun fully set, we decided it was time to set off back to camp as we knew the hike that lay ahead.
The walk back to camp was both the best and the worst. It was the best as walking along the sun had set which meant a nice black sky to see the incredibleness that was bright red lava erupting and spewing out of the mouth of Fuego – just a simply unforgettable experience. The worst because on tired legs and tired everything, we had to walk back. Seriously I think this day pushed me to my absolute limits. There is a reason why they say doing these 2 volcanoes in the one day is not for the faint hearted.
Eventually we made it back to camp just after 8pm, the struggle was real, I was really using every last ounce of energy I had just to make it back, it hurt….everywhere!!
Back at camp they had a nice warm fire set up and we had a nice hearty pasta to warm our cockles. Funny, I initially thought it was way, way too much food for me, however, with the amount of energy I had exerted today I smashed it all down! There was wine being passed around as well, however, I was really not feeling very well so decided not to partake. Bed, it was all I could think of and all I needed, so before long as I was dead on my feet I stumbled myself off to bed to try and sleep…