Volcan Pacaya

One of the closest, and most scenic day trips from Antigua is Volcan Pacaya. Volcan Pacaya is an active volcano, which is under almost constant eruption. It provides accessible views of volcanic activity up close. At just over 8,000 ft, it is a medium difficulty climb. Anybody in decent shape should have no problems, just make sure to bring sturdy hiking boots, water, snacks, sunglasses, sunscreen, and warm clothes. The wind gets very cold at the top of the volcano!

Less than twenty miles from Antigua, there are numerous buses and guide services leaving from Antigua every day. A decent guide is highly recommended, as robberies are known to occur, although since it became a national park in 2001, these have drastically decreased. There is no reason not to go with a guide, since it will cost you less than $15.

The climb takes about 3 hours. The first half is lushly vegetated and green. As you climb higher, the views become simply amazing. Once the vegetation ends, hiking becomes much more difficult. The rest of the hike is over slippery black ash. Difficult footing, combined with low visibility, cold wind, and sulfurous gases makes this the most challenging part of the climb, but the reward is spectacular. At the peak of the summit, standing next to a cauldron of molten lava is a spectacular feeling that you wont forget. With the cold wind on your back, and the heat from the lava not more than 10 feet away, it is like being in a hot tub on top of a mountain.

Climbing down the volcano is the fun part, and much easier than climbing up. The preferred method of descent is a sort of run-jump-ski combination, sliding down the ash. This is easier and safer than it sounds, and pretty fun too.

No comments: