Fuego means Fire in Spanish and it is a highly active vulcano in the heart of Guatemala. Acatenango is Fuego’s dormant sibling neighbor, the two peaks are a mere two kilometers apart. Hiking up Acatenango offers unbeatable views of visual spectacles involving erupting lava from Fuego which you definitely will never forget.
Hiking tours to the Acatenango summit depart daily from the beautiful colonial town of Antigua, which is only 80 minute drive from Guatemala city and its International Airport.
In Antigua, you will find a multitude of tour operators going to Acatenango and hopefully this guide will help you to select the one that fits your expectations and budget the best.
Old Town Outfitters – The Most Exclusive Tour Experience
Old Town Outfitters is the only tour company listed in the latest edition of Lonely Planet Guatemala, which says a lot about how often Lonely planet is updated…. Old Town outfitters have excellent equipment and go every day that they have customers, even if only one or two people signed up for any given day. However, this is also by far the most expensive tour company in Antigua. Prices start at 170 USD per person for a private two person group and fall to 125USD if more than 4 people go on the same tour. This is very expensive (for Guatemala) but can provide you with the most exclusive tour experience.
OX Adventures Offers a High-end Tour with Some Cons
OX adventures was started by fervent mountaineers that pays the local guides well and furthermore, this tour agency is one of only two in Antigua that offer trips onto the active volcano Fuego!!
OX is a premium company with good equipment and they will provide you with outdoor hiking gear like thick jackets etc for free. OX is cheaper than Old Town outfitters at 89 USD but still significantly more expensive than other competitors. For OX Adventure tours to Acatenango will only go if more than four hikers have signed up and consequently there are no departures every day. This has one important implication, unlike Tropicana and Wicho&Charlies which both run tours every day, OX does not have a permanent presence on Acatenango so you have to carry tent etc up and down the mountain yourself. With the other companies, you only need to carry 4 liters of water and whatever else you want up the mountain (camera, snacks etc). With OX tours, you need to add sleeping bag, mattress and tent so your backpack may end up weighing 15kg instead of 7kg. If you go with OX, it is highly recommended that you get yourself a porter for 200 Quetzales to carry your backpack. The whole trek is extremely steep so that even without any backpack you will be quite exhausted.
Tropicana Hostel Offers a Good Value for Money Acatenango Hike
Tropicana hostel has daily hikes up Acatenango. It is a respectable company that charges 400 Quetzales for an overnight hike and they generally get good reviews. They have winter jackets for rent but nothing else as hiking gear goes. Tropicana hostel gives discounts or free tours to Bloggers and Instagram celebrities so if you look around the web, you will find accounts and photos from Tropicana hikes.
Our Choice for the Acatenago Hike: Wicho & Charlie’s
We did the hike with Wicho & Charlie’s because it fit us the best. The price was 400 Quetzales for the overnight Acatenango hike. Like OX, Wicho & Charlie’s also provides you with the option of visiting Fuego itself after arriving at the Acatenango base camp. The owners of Wicho & Charlie’s are also avid mountaineers and the guides are excellent and well paid. This company also has programs to give back to the local community. We chose to go with Wicho & Charlie’s because it is possible to rent all hiking gear you need from them including hiking boots. The gear for rent is mostly secondhand stuff from USA but works fine. The best would be still to bring your own.
Hiking Boots vs. Sneakers
We saw people doing the hike in sneakers, but it was much more comfortable, warm and safe to wear hiking boots. The path is 80% gravel which makes it very easy to slip. If you don’t want to ruin your running shoes just rent some hiking boots. Usually we are not big fans of hiking boots because they weigh you down, but this time we were glad we rented hiking boots.
Avoid No Name Tour Companies for an Enjoyable Acatenango Hike
No name brand tour operators. If you walk into any tourist office in Antigua and ask about an Acatenango hike, they will likely book you with a no-name brand tour. This is the cheapest tour option, prices start at 250 Quetzales and our language school could even arrange it for as low as 185 Quetzales. Maybe you have read online about malfunctioning tents, broken sleeping bags, not enough food on the hike and other horror stories. In Guatemala you usually get what you pay for and we would avoid these no name brand tours unless you are really strapped for cash.
Wicho & Charlie’s Offers the Best Value for Money Acatenango Hike
Conclusion: Go with Old Town Outfitters for that exclusive experience or with OX for a premium hike with the Fuego option. Wicho & Charlie’s and Tropicana Hostel offer tours with the best value and we choose Wicho & Charlie’s because they provide you with the possibility of visiting both Fuego and Acatenango on the same hike. One more thing in favor of Wicho & Charlie’s is the possibility to rent a complete set of hiking gear including headlamp and hiking boots.
Vegan Food is Available with all Tour Companies
We are very happy to tell you that you don’t need to worry about vegan food for your Acatenango hike. All operators have a vegan meal options. The vegan food with Wicho & Charlie’s was nutritious and actually quite good. We brought some extra nuts and 2 apples each, which we finished.
Disclaimer. We paid everything in full and did not receive any discount from any tour operator.