As a non-early riser a 6am start is painful for me but the blow is softened as today is the day that I get to experience active Volcano Fuego erupting right before my eyes only a few meters away.
My boyfriend and I walk to the square in Guatemala’s beautiful colonial town of Antigua and wait patiently for the minibus that is nearly an hour late (that could have been an extra hour in bed for me!!). As we sit there with our tiny day packs we watch everyone board the bus and wonder why they have huge half filled rucksacks.
We arrive at the bottom of volcano Acatenango and look up at the cloud-covered summit. This hike is going to be harder than we anticipated. Once we had somehow tied, stuffed and secured everything in our bags we begin the hike. Beneath our feet is black volcanic gravel from the lava that once spewed out of this now dormant volcano. After only 5 minutes I could feel the burn in my legs as we made our way up the gravel path. Two steps up and one back as the gravel slides back down under our feet. After around 30 minutes the ground plateaus and we reach our first resting point. Already tired, hungry and out of breath, I start to question whether I can make it to the top. Only 30 minutes in and roughly another 5 or 6 hours to go! What have I signed up for??
Onwards and upwards we climb, the incline seems to be getting even steeper.As we come out through the clouds the terrain changes and it is more beautiful than before. The trees are taller and the sun is once again shining down on us. Looking down onto a carpet of cloud covering the city of Antigua below we can see the peaks of the other volcanoes poking through. What an amazing view! It can't be too much longer until we reach our camp.
I finally reach the top and feel so grateful. I sit down with my fellow hikers and suddenly understand what all the hard work was for. Volcan Fuego is in full view right in front of us. In that moment Volcano Fuego lets off a big rumble and smoke puffs out of the top. What a magical moment as we all watch in awe. While the volcano continues to puff white smoke into the clear sky, it's time for dinner. On the menu noddle ramen.
This is when the real show begins. Now dark we can see red lava spewing out of the top of Volcano Fuego with every eruption. The whole group cheers as we watch the power of nature right before our eyes. Being so close to something so powerful gives you a real appreciation of how small we really are. Eruption after eruption while we sit around the campfire sharing stories and playing silly games. Stopped in our tracks every time we hear a rumble to watch the red explosion light up the night sky, lava streaming down the sides of the volcano in what seems like slow motion.
Climbing and camping on this amazing volcano gave us sense of real achievement and a new appreciation for Mother Nature and this beautiful planet.
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