Ever since I read about roasting marshmallows on top of a volcano I knew I couldn’t leave Guatemala without doing it. The good news was it was extremely easy to do. I’m all for off the beaten path but some things are popular for a reason. Pacaya ended up being one of the highlights of my whole trip.
Go to any tour operator in town and they’ll have Volcan Pacaya tours leaving at least twice a day. A winding 90-minute van ride from Antigua took us to the base of Pacaya. At this point there were some local kids selling walking sticks and a little shop to buy marshmallows. I parted ways with a few quetzals and got a walking stick which is totally unnecessary but I thought I would look more badass in pictures (I was wrong).
I had heard that this hike was extremely easy and well suited for beginners. While I think that anyone can do this hike, there were some parts that can get pretty steep. For those who don’t want to make the trek there is an option to ride a horse up.
Because Pacaya is an active volcano, you are not actually allowed to go to the top but our guide was pretty lax with the rules and let a couple of girls in our group go off on their own to keep climbing. As for the rest of us rule followers, the view from the highest point you get to is still pretty dang amazing. After getting past the tree line, we found ourselves in a field of cooled lava. I’ve heard rumors of a little shop where you can buy lava jewelry but either it was closed when we went or our guide just decided not to take us there.
After crossing through the volcano field you’ll probably stumble on a sea of tourists armed with marshmallows. Yes it is completely gimmicky but c’mon — if you have the chance to say you ate a s’more that was roasted in volcanic lava you better take it. My only regret is that I didn’t think to bring graham crackers and chocolate.
After inhaling as many marshmallows as we possibly could, our guide took us up behind the lava field for a view the sunset over the other volcanoes in the area. We were lucky enough to see Fuego Volcano erupting into the sunset. I was too mesmerized to whip out my camera but it was absolutely breathtaking. I did capture a few shots after the initial eruption but they don’t do the experience justice.
After the sunset we began our descent. Since you will be doing this in the dark I would highly recommend bringing a flashlight. Some of the members of our group forgot flashlights and we had a few stumbles.
This makes a great half-day trip from Antigua. I went with a tour agency in town called G-Adventures. The trip cost about $11 for roundtrip transportation, a guide, and marshmallows. The park fee was another $6. Most tour operators offer trips in the morning as well as the afternoon. We chose the latter and left Antigua at 2pm and were back at around 8pm.
The hike is well suited for beginners but you definitely earn your marshmallow!