Pacaya Volcano 2-Day Hike Guide (My Itinerary)

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Guatemala is known for its spectacular natural landscapes and, most importantly, its majestic volcanos.

Hiking the iconic Pacaya Volcano is exhilarating, and seeing lava bubbling in the active volcano makes for an unforgettable experience.

In this guide, I hope to help you plan better than I did on my last trip to the Pacaya Volcano for a wholesome experience. Read along.

Brief Information About Pacaya Volcano

Pacaya is 8,373 feet or a 2,552-meter tall stratovolcano, approximately 19 miles (30 km) by road from the capital, Guatemala City.

It is one of three active volcanos in Guatemala, with over 23 recorded eruptions and 17 cubic miles (70 cubic kilometers) of magma released.

After its most recent eruption in March 2021, which saw the lava flow to the outskirts of El Patrocinio village, it became my obsession to explore this freak of nature. I have since visited the volcano thrice, with my last trip being the most rewarding.

While many visitors prefer half-day hiking tours, a sunset tour offers a more immersive and gratifying experience of the Pacaya Volcano.

The hike’s difficulty ranges from easy to medium, with the ascent taking 2-3 hours, depending on your hiking experience, fitness level, and prevalent weather conditions.

The first part of the hike is the most challenging, with treks through the forest, with a few steep sections.

Active volcano
Active Pacayo Volcano

Afterward, it is a gradual climb through dried lava fields and volcanic dust which are dusty when dry and highly slippery in the wet season. Make sure your hiking shoes have good threads, especially during descent.

The views at the summit are so satisfying, with stunning views of the surrounding Agua, Fuego, and Acatenango volcanoes.

Read nextAcatenango Volcano 2-Day Hike

The highlight of reaching the summit is roasting marshmallows over the hot lava rocks.

Afterward, enjoy your dinner on the backdrop of incredible sunset with the Pacific visible on the horizon if the skies are clear. The sunrises are also dreamy if you wake up early enough.

Things I Wish I Knew Before Hiking Pacayo Volcano

While hiking any volcano can be quite strenuous, it becomes a whole lot easier when you know what to expect.

To help you plan better for your Pacaya Volcano hike, here are some valuable tips I picked from my past excursions:

Pacayo’s Weather is Unpredictable

With its microclimate, the weather at the volcano changes from sunny to cloudy and vice versa, no matter the time of day.

Occasional evening showers in the dry season are also a common sight.

The must-have items to handle whatever weather Pacayo throws at you are:

  • High SPF sunscreen
  • A hat
  • A raincoat
  • A windbreaker
  • A fleece water-resistant jacket
  • Flashlight
  • Sturdy all-weather hiking boots
  • Waterproof backpack

Possible altitude sickness

If you’re heading to Pacaya for the first time, altitude sickness is common, even for experienced hikers.

At around 7000 feet, three hiking group members began to feel nauseous and lightheaded, calling the guides into action.

Quick remedies for altitude sickness include:

  • Drinking lots of water
  • Take bananas or yogurt to increase your potassium levels
  • Wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun

Luckily, after this quick intervention and a short rest, they recovered and continued with the group to the overnight camp.

Read laterAntigua Volcanos 3-Day Hike

Plan ahead and carry all your supplies

There are no stores or refilling stations to replenish your supplies along the trail. As such, it’s important to ensure your backpack has sufficient water and snacks to last the hike and the night.

Pacayo Volcano hiking
Pacayo Volcano

In addition, it’s highly recommended to have appropriate travel insurance in case of any unexpected emergencies.

While some tour companies offer complimentary water, most operators limit you to a 500ml water bottle which is far from enough. If you’re planning to drive to the trailhead, don’t forget to explore car rental options in advance to make your journey to the starting point more convenient and enjoyable.

Lastly, when planning your trip, consider booking flights and researching suitable hotels or accommodation options in advance to reduce last-day disappointments.

You’ll be sleeping in a tent

You need sufficient clothing to ensure a warm and good night’s sleep. It would be best to pack double-duty clothing so that your backpack is lighter and gives room for other supplies.

Therefore, you will not need to book hotel accommodations during your hike.

Should You Use a Tour Company for the Pacaya Volcano?

Pacaya is still an active volcano, and it would be best to use a tour company for an overnight hike.

They employ local guides who know Pacaya to the core to keep an eye on the lava activity and can readjust the route accordingly so that you are not caught in a cloud of ash or, worse, streams of hot lava.

Besides, taking a tour guide is the best course of action if you are a beginner amateur or not in peak physical condition.

For instance, some amateur hikers in our group found the going challenging, and the guides had to reduce the pace so that the duo stayed caught up.

If you are an experienced hiker, Pacaya may be an easy climb during day hikes, but the sunset hike calls for extra caution with loose lava stones strewn across the trails.

Heed the guide’s instructions, avoid venturing too far away from your group or walking near the crater’s edges.

The 2-Day Pacaya Volcano Itinerary

As earlier stated, the best way to experience the Pacaya is through a sunset tour with us spending the night at the summit before returning to base by mid-morning.

Here is a comprehensive itinerary on how to make the most of your hike to Pacaya Volcano:

Day 1


The optimum time to start your hike is 4:00 p.m.

The sun is not as hot, and you will have enough daylight to reach the summit before dusk. With enough supplies (water, snacks, mosquito repellants, warm clothing) for a comfortable night’s stay, you can join the other hikers at the start of the trailhead.

The two guides usually set the pace for the hike, but they are flexible to requests to slow down or catch a breather.

Hydrate as you shield yourself from the scorching sun to reduce fatigue and chances of developing altitude sickness.


Even with multiple breaks along the hike, you’ll be at the summit as night falls.

The darkness lights up the volcano, with red and orange hues of lava in the crevices visible. Roast your marshmallows on the cooling lava hotspots before serving dinner.

A campfire at the center of pitched tents makes for a beautiful bonding experience and time to listen to folk tales of the local communities from the guides.

The evenings are pretty windy with the high altitude, so ensure you don a heavy jacket. The summit on a cloudless night also provides an unforgettable star-gazing experience.

Day 2


Wake up at the crack of dawn to see the dying lava embers before first light. The first sunrays illuminate the rugged landscapes making for a picturesque sight.

After the sweeping morning views, it’s time to wrap it up and return to the base. No litter should be left behind to preserve this natural ecosystem.

While the descent is relatively faster, watch out for trail patches with loads of volcanic sand to avoid slipping down the slopes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Pacayo Volcano lava

When is the best time to hike the Pacaya Volcano?

The beginning of the dry season (early November) is the best time to hike at Pacaya Volcano, with sunset hikes offering the best experiences.

The landscape is still lush green from the just concluded rainy season, while the morning and evening skies are clearer.

Temperatures are mild, and the crowds are still trickling in, making the trails less congested.

Is Hiking Pacaya Volcano Difficult?

The Pacaya Volcano is an easy to moderate hike. While the slope is less steep and demanding than Acatenago, the terrain is rocky, so wear appropriate hiking boots.

Hiking sticks came in handy during the decline as sliding in the volcanic sand is quite common. I highly recommend you rent one.

What is the Weather like at Pacaya Volcano?

With an elevation of 2552m, Pacaya is windy and tends to have its micro-climate.

While the weather conditions are relatively calm, things change sporadically; always come prepared. As such, always carry warm clothing, a windbreaker, and a waterproof jacket, even when hiking in the dry season.

Is it safe to hike the Pacaya Volcano?

While it is safe to hike Pacaya, extra caution is necessary since it’s an active volcano. Use a local guide, follow their instructions, and watch your step.

Besides, check the conditions before scheduling your visit, as the Park is usually closed temporarily when the volcanic activity gets vigorous to protect the public.

Final thoughts 💭

Whether you are a beginner or an avid hiker, the Pacaya Volcano offers a truly unique and satisfying hiking experience. It was nothing short of magical, from the picturesque sunsets and sunrises to the breathtaking night views of the lava embers glowing through the cracks. Don’t take our word for it; head down there are experience the magnificence of Pacaya Volcano. Have fun!

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