Lake Atitlan – beautiful clear lake surrounded by volcanoes
I spent a little over a week in a lakeside town San Pedro La Laguna, I came down with the flu which was unfortunate, but this was the perfect place to chill and recover. Clear clean waters at a perfect temp for swimming, a moderately sized lake ringed by cute little villages and three decent sized volcanic peaks. There are quite a few outdoor activities you can indulge in, Spanish courses, good quality food, coffee and chocolate, and a lively tourist ‘party’ scene – it isn’t hard to see why people get ‘stuck’ here.
I ended up finding a great room to myself, on the balcony sitting on top of the lake (literally), and right next to a main swimming spot, had cable, hot showers, etc – this was only 70Q (or just under $10 US per night). It is almost like a little slice of heaven on earth, I spent a few days cycling between reading in the hammock, swimming with the locals, going to the local gym and practicing my Spanish with some new local amigos. After recovering from the flu, it was great to have energy again and I was feeling a sense of urgency to get my skates on and start getting the momentum going again with new sites. A key focus will be minimizing time spent in transit.
Volcan Acatenango / Fuego – raw power of volcanic eruptions amidst lighting
I did the overnight hike up Volcan Acetanango, where you are right next to the constantly erupting Volcan Fuego – it is one of the top experiences I’ve had anywhere in the Americas. I’m still recovering from the tough ascent and descent of this climb – will probably be hobbling around for a few days. But it was easily worth it.
It was truly a sublime experience, one that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. I’ve never seen or heard raw lava coming out of the earth before, and it was beautiful, incredibly loud, and spectacular. All night in our tents we could hear Fuego raging and roaring, at around 1am I decided to get up and see what it looked like now the rain had stopped (it was raining when we arrived in the late afternoon) and WOW!!!!… one of the most beautiful scenes I could imagine possible:
The cloud level was below our campsite, and it looked like a white sea under the bright moon, the sky above was clear and the stars were out in full force, with the three large volcanoes surrounding Antigua were all poking out of the clouds like islands. Fuego had a long stream of lava going down one side (creating a glow in surrounding clouds), and every few minutes would blast out some more. Off in the distance behind Volcan Agua, there was a pretty bright and consistent sheet lightning storm which provided the perfect backdrop. There was no way I was going back to bed after seeing this! (we had to wake at 3:30am anyway to do the final ascent to the very top of Acatenango).
Although our final ascent was only 1.5 hours long, it totally dominated me. I was wiped out primarily from the altitude. After catching my breath, it would only take around 2-3 steps before my heart rate when through the roof again. This was compounded by the battle of scrambling up the ash.. one step forward, then before you put your next foot forward you’ve lost 50% of the distance from the first foot… and on and on.. But, the view at the top here was easily up there with the best sunsets I’ve ever seen (btw I’ve seen a lot!).