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Peps and Pete Travels "On pleasure bent again"

Boiling hot Mag-ma

GUATEMALA | Tuesday, 6 February 2007 | Views [2091] | Comments [7]

Volcano Pacaya is an active volcano that is about 1.5 hours drive from Antigua, and for US$7 you get to go on a guided walk to the top. To us, this is an offer too good to refuse, so on Friday 2/02 Pete and I left Antigua for the 7 hour sunset tour of the volcano. Only once we got there did we find out that it had had a lava flow the day before! Before I start, we recognise that parts of this tour would never be allowed in Australia but, Pete reckons that this is what travel to the 3rd world is all about: 'awesome adventures that are not overly constrained by red tape'.

So the 7 hour tour goes like this - 1.5 hours drive there, 1.5 hours hike, hour at the top, 1.5 hours hike down, and 1.5 hours drive back. We chose to go on a sunset hike, which meant that we were at the top of the volcano when the sun went down. It was pretty amazing.

We left Antigua at 2pm and had an uneventful trip to the volcano. But the bus ride did leave me with some interesting insights into guatemalan road rules which I am collecting, and will post in a while! Once we arrived at the starting point of the hike we were greeted by hoardes of kids renting sticks and horses for the walk. We climed 800m in altitude over a 3km route which took us 1.5 hours. It was not really steep - just a constant uphill. No flat areas at all! I can say that I felt it!

We arrived at the top - or so I thought- which had great views of the surrounds as well as the crater and the magma which had started flowing the day before. I expected that the hour at the top would be enjoyed from this safe, grassed, comfortable vantage. Boy was I ever wrong!

The pep talk went as follows:

1. Don't be alarmed by the sound of flowing magma underneath the dried crust (on which you are standing)

2. Don't worry if the lava is moving

3. Dont go closer to the lava than 3m

4. If the ground looks white(hot), don't stand on it

and last but not least

5. Smiling no crying mi familerio

Ah, so we're walking over that dry lava crust, further up the volcano, toward the freshly flowing lava! NO WORRIES!

'Lava crust' for want of a better word is really wierd. It reminds me of walking on barnacled rocks at the beach, but it doesnt feel like rock. It is sharp though, and one slip would not result in pretty consequences.

I got within about 500m of the flowing lava and decided that was far enough for me. Pete went much closer - within a couple of meters - and said that he could smell burning rubber from peoples shoes! In a couple of places where I was standing you could see the red hot magma through the cracks in the crust - and the ground was HOT, I had to keep moving from foot to foot 'cause otherwise it was uncomfortable.

All that said - it was an incredible place to be, and I would highly reccommend it to others, though I may not do it again!

On the way home we got an insight into guatemalan car reapirs - our bus got a stone lodged between to 2 back wheels (double wheeled truck) and it took about 30mins and a very sturdy stick to finally remove it. An adventure indeed!


Tags: Mountains



Hey hey, so you're saying you need new shoes right?! We're breaking the cat in to the new house by letting him have it out with some other cat. I hope he wins. There seem to be about six cats living here, I'm sure he'll lord over all of them.
Ciao! p.s. how's the food?

  Suz and Si Feb 7, 2007 10:02 PM


Hey, did you guys know that your blog made it to the front page?

  Suz and Si Feb 7, 2007 10:07 PM


Yep, you're the feature article this week on Adventures (will change over on Wed 14 Feb). Thanks for the great post. You got my attention with 'mag-ma' and got me thinking just how close I'd be standing next to that lava! I don't think I'm as brave as you

  crustyadventures Feb 8, 2007 9:22 AM


Hey penny_pooh,
Sounds like some fun.

  Luke Feb 8, 2007 10:27 PM


Hey everyone, Thanks for the comments. I love this form of communication - also thanks to World Nomads for featuring our post on the journals front page this week. I am honoured!

  Pen Eddie Feb 10, 2007 4:45 AM



Hope you guys are having a blast!!! Nice to see some pics and stories already!! We are having a great time in Whistler and the don't want to leave for the real world any time soon. I wish you both the best and many adventures!

Cheers Amy xx oo

  Amy Feb 10, 2007 6:40 PM


Hey Pen & Pete,

Wow - I can't believe you guys went to an active volcano!! I wish I had done that in Hawaii.

I am also enjoying life in Whistler, went skiing for the first time in 8 years yesterday and I've still got some co-ordination so was well happy with myself :-) my snowboarding is coming along ok, just need to stop being such a girl and be more aggressive.

I hope you both have many more fabulous stories to tell and most importantly, keep enjoying yourselves!!
All the best, lots of love, Joey xx

  Jo Salmond Feb 16, 2007 9:02 AM



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