I think climbing the active volcano Pacaya, located a few hours outside of Antigua, will be one of my favorite memories from Guatemala. The trip required an hour trek uphill until we hit the tree line and then another hour scrambling through volcanic rock of various sizes until we hit molten lava. Especially near the end, it was very slow going, in the words of our guide, “se necesita caminar como niños,” or “you need to walk like little children [using hands and knees]”. It was quite cool until we got within forty feet of the lava. We could feel the heat radiating beneath our feet well before we could actually see the lava. We were so high up, mists of clouds swirled around us.
Our group consisted of eleven young people from all over the world – Canada, Croatia, Germany, Czech Republic, and the USA. We bonded over the experience and even took turns roasting marshmallows over the lava.
The trip back down was also tricky, especially because the sun had set for the majority of it. Luckily some of the other travelers came prepared with headlamps so we didn’t have to feel our way down in total darkness.
Once back to Antigua, we celebrated our adventure with schnitzel and drinks at a German restaurant near the hotel. In Antigua, we have enjoyed cuisine from all over the world – Thailand, China, Germany, France, and Italy. The city truly has a cosmopolitan feel.