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Pacaya Volcano National Park

Part of the Central American Volcanic Arc and regarded as Guatemala’s most active volcano, Pacaya’s current active phase began back in 1965. The 2,552-meter-high volcano frequently spews lava, hurtles rocks into the sky, lets off steam and disperses large clouds of ash into the surrounding area. Occasionally ash clouds disrupt flight arrangements at Guatemala City’s La Aurora International Airport. Back in 1998, the airport had to be temporarily closed after the runway was coated with a thick layer of volcanic ash. The most recent eruption at Pacaya took place back in May (2010) causing ash to rain down on Guatemala City, Antigua and Escuintla. Local communities were forced to evacuate the area and a journalist documenting the events was fatally injured by volcanic debris. Scientists expect another spate of volatile activity soon.

Despite the unpredictable nature of Pacaya, it is still a hugely popular destination for tourists to Guatemala. There are a number of reputable agencies based in both Guatemala City and Antigua that organize day trips to the volcano. It is often easier to organize such a trip and take a guide with you rather than attempting to head for the peak on your own. Generally it makes more sense to make the trip from Guatemala City as it is closer to Pacaya but the majority of tour operators tend to be located in Antigua. Unfortunately, during the 1990’s the area became known for armed robberies but nowadays there are plenty of park rangers patrolling the trails and robberies have become virtually unheard of.

Pacaya Volcano and its surrounding area achieved national park status back in 2001 and admission is $3.50. The fee goes towards maintaining the park and keeping it safe and tourist-friendly. There is a secure parking area at the trailhead in San Francisco de Sales and there are plenty of rest stops and outhouses along the way. Make sure you wear suitable footwear – volcanic rock is rough, drink plenty of water and bring warm clothing as it can get quite cold at the top. Naturally, views are better in the morning when the sky is clear. Once you reach the top, the surrounding scenery is spectacular, not to mention seeing an active volcano bubbling with hot lava, flowing lava rivers and shooting jets of steam.


Other places nearby Pacaya Volcano National Park: Mixco Viejo and Guatemala City.

30 Jul 2010

Things to do in Pacaya Volcano National Park

Parque Natural Canopy Calderas

This privately owned reserve is situated right on the slopes of Pacaya volcano, just three kilometers from San Francisco de Salas. Open from 8a.m.-6p.m. daily, admission is $10 and you are free to ...
Pacaya Volcano National Park, Guatemala
View Pacaya Volcano National Park Map

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