Top Hiking Trails in Guatemala for Adventure Lovers – Antigua, Lake Atitlan & Nothern Guatemala [2023]

In this blog, we'll share insider knowledge about Guatemala's best hiking trails. Whether you're seeking adventure, awesome landscapes, or cultural heritage, you have plenty of trails to choose from.

Guatemala is a hiker's paradise that strikes the perfect balance between adventure and natural splendor. Picture this: winding trails through cloud forests, with mist-kissed treetops creating an almost mystical atmosphere. Add to that the drama of volcanoes punctuating the landscape, offering a hike with a view like no other.

But it's not just about the scenery; Guatemala is like a hidden gem for wildlife enthusiasts. Keep your eyes peeled for the elusive quetzal bird, a local celebrity, gracing the skies and trees along your trek.

From Tikal National Park with its Mayan Ruins to the lava-spewing Mount Fuego, you have plenty of hiking trails to choose from in Guatemala. If you ask us, the best options are around Antigua, Lake Atitlan, and Northern Guatemala.

We've been coordinating hiking tours in Guatemala for over 20 years, so soak up our expert knowledge before you embark on a trip to this beautiful country. Gather your hiking boots!

Key Takeaways

  1. Guatemala has countless volcanoes with stunning hiking trails, but three of the most popular options are Acatenango & Fuego (2 days), Pacaya, and San Pedro.

  2. Lake Atitlan is the center point of hiking in Guatemala. The Indian Nose Hike is our standout favorite.

  3. See Mayan ruins on the Tikal National Park Trek or the 5-day El Mirador trek in Northern Guatemala.

Antigua Hiking Trails

A view of the three volcanoes Acatenango, Fuego, and Pacaya in Central America. Sunrise hikes to the summit are

Acatenango & Fuego Volcano Hike

Hiking the Acatenango Volcano offers a two-day experience like no other (yes, this hike includes one compulsory night of camping). From the 3,976-meter summit (13,041 feet), jaw-dropping views of neighboring Fuego await you. But this is no ordinary mountain view. Fuego is an actively erupting volcano with lava spewing every 10 minutes, all of which you can observe from a safe viewing distance at the base camp of Acatenango. It's one for the bucket list!

Lava erupting from Mount Fuego volcano.

When hiking Acatenango, you have the additional option to hike Volcan Fuego. We highly recommend taking this since the additional cost is marginal (maybe 200Q depending on the tour company) and getting that bit closer to the eruptions offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

From the trailhead, the trek to reach the summit takes about 4-6 hours while traversing around 18 kilometers (11 miles) roundtrip in total. Temperatures here drop extremely low during sunrise so packing warm clothing is essential.

The optimum time to go on this hike is between November and April as it gives greater chances of staying dry amidst breathtaking landscapes. It’s required that you hike Acatenango & Fuego with a guide, so check out the Acatenango hiking tour with Kayak Guatemala.

Pacaya Volcano Hike

If you don't want to stray too far from Antigua, Pacaya is a great option to hike one of Guatemala's volcanoes as it is located only 30 miles from Antigua. Reaching an impressive height of 2,569 meters (8,428 feet), visitors can enjoy views such as lava fields and panoramic vistas while on their 2-3 hour hike.

The best time to plan your climb would be during December through April when rainfall is minimal and rivers are at peak clarity.

Cerro de la Cruz Hike

Historic Antigua seen from Cerro de la Cruz park.  This is one hike anyone should enjoy.

The Cerro de la Cruz hike is a great way to take in the wonderful views of Antigua and its surrounding Volcanoes. It begins just inside the tourist area, following Abasolo Street uphill with not too much challenge involved. The estimated time it takes to complete this trail is around 45 minutes up to an hour depending on your pace while you enjoy amazing vistas at its peak. To make the most out of your experience, hike on a cloudless day for clear views of the city. Check the route on All Trails.

Lake Atitlan Hikes

Lake Atitlan, located in Guatemala’s southwest corner, provides wonderful trails for outdoor explorers. The twin peaks of Indian Nose and San Pedro Volcano offer inspiring views with two very different hiking experiences - a gentle sunrise trek or a more strenuous hike along the volcanic peak. No matter which one you choose, both will allow stunning lake glimpses as well as cultural experiences during your excursion.

Indian Nose Sunrise Hike

The Indian Nose undoubtedly offers the most stunning sunrise vista in all of Guatemala, set against the rugged backdrop of Lake Atitlan. The only catch is you have to rise early because pick-up is at 3:30 am!

Predawn colors in the sky make getting up early totally worth seeing the spectacular views.

The Indian Nose walk starts in a verdant cloud forest and passes past terraced farmland. When you reach the top, you can see the rising sun peeking over a backdrop of massive volcanoes. It's an absolutely picture-perfect view.

The Indian Nose walk is a short one, measuring just 3 km (2 miles). This implies that families can handle it and that you don't have to be an expert mountaineer to enjoy this lovely day. It's best to travel with a guide who is familiar with the area before dawn; Kayak Guatemala's tour includes transportation as well as coffee or tea at the summit.

San Pedro Volcano Hike

Starting from San Pedro La Laguna village, you can experience a challenging yet rewarding full-day hike with breathtaking and panoramic views of Lake Atitlan and its surrounding volcanoes. The San Pedro Volcano hike takes 6 - 7 hours to complete, which brings hikers up 3,020 meters (9,908 feet) above sea level.

Hikers on the steep slopes of volcáno San Pedro.

Be warned, hiking San Pedro is no easy feat. You'll traverse through rugged terrain with a steep incline that lasts a few hours. Not every tourist is brave enough to attempt the hike, but those who do are rewarded with an unforgettable experience.

To ensure you get the most out of your hike safely and enjoyably, it’s important to start early and take note of weather conditions - dress appropriately with comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water. Hiring an experienced guide can also make for a more informative journey too! Check out the Kayak Guatemala San Pedro hike.

Santa Cruz To San Marcos Nature Trail

Otherwise known as the Lower Mayan trail, the lakeside path between Santa Cruz La Laguna and San Marcos La Laguna is frequently used by travelers and locals alike. At 8.7km each way, it's a low-impact day hike that passes through the lesser-traveled villages of Tzununa and Jaibalito on the North-West shore. This rugged section of Lake Atitlan has barely been touched by the outside world, so you'll see local farmers working in their fields as you pass by. Whether you go alone or with a guide, be sure to start hiking early to avoid the sun.

The Santiago Waterfall

Mother, father and two daughters surrounded by green leaves.

Hidden among the depths of Lake Atitlan's cloud forest is the mystical Santiago waterfall, where you can witness water bursting out of the mountainside and giving life to the region. It's one of the few waterfalls in Atitlan, meaning it's a really unique hiking trail in the area.

To reach this natural phenomenon you must hike for 3 hours through lush forest. It's common to spot monkeys, rare birds, and even snakes on the way, so it's helpful to go with a local guide who can point them out from a safe distance. Check out our Guatemala Jungle Trek.

Northern Guatemala Hiking Trails

Tikal National Park

Grand plaza with views of the acropolis and pyramids.

Tikal National Park, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1955 and renowned for its Mayan ruins, is nestled in the lush jungles of Guatemala. Among these ruins are awe-inspiring temples, pyramids, and more that were part of the long-lost city of Tikal. This 7.4-km loop trail is generally considered a moderately challenging route, it takes an average of 1 hour 59 min to complete.

The Tikal Ruins Hike offers incredible insight into Mayan civilization with its incredible temples, plazas, and history that visitors can uncover on their journey. The complex is massive, with restored temples rising high above the jungle canopy and with the lowland rainforest setting, it's a haven for biodiversity. Tikal offers glimpses of many animals in their natural environment, such as spider monkeys, toucans, jaguars, parrots, and macaws to name a few. Bring binoculars for the best views!

El Mirador Trek

The El Mirador Trek is an ambitious and lengthy hike that takes you into the Guatemalan wilderness to discover a hidden Mayan city. Lasting for 5 days, this enthralling venture will take adventurers through thick jungle terrain while offering opportunities to observe diverse wildlife species as well as stunning visuals of the surrounding area. At its conclusion lies one of Guatemala’s most astonishing archaeological sights, El Mirador, with magnificent temples rising above lush natural scenery, making it perfect for explorers looking for adventure in unknown places.

Check out our full range of hiking tours in Guatemala.

Hike Guatemala: Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to hike the Guatemala volcano?

Hiking the majestic Volcan Acatenango in Guatemala usually costs between $50 and $100, depending on what’s included in your package from a tour company as well as group size. Typically, these packages feature basic sustenance along with tents and sleeping gear. If you are after something more luxurious that comes complete with additional luxuries or extras, then prices may be higher accordingly.

What is the hardest hike in Guatemala?

For mountaineers looking for the ultimate challenge, ascending the three peaks of the Acatenango volcano in Guatemala is it - a difficult hike over 30 km with more than 5000 mts gained. It’s only recommended for those with excellent physical condition and endurance!

Is it safe to hike a volcano in Guatemala?

Hiking the Acatenango Volcano in Guatemala is considered safe, as it lies far enough away from Volcan Fuego’s activity and has a low risk of major eruptions.

What is the best jungle trek in Guatemala?

Exploring Guatemala’s jungles is truly a remarkable experience, and the Rio Dulce route provides lots of chances to immerse yourself in nature. From swimming or kayaking to fishing, there are plenty of activities available for those wishing to take full advantage of this wondrous journey.

What is the easiest volcano hike in Lake Atitlan?

Visiting Lake Atitlan provides hikers with three great options, and of them all, the San Pedro Volcano is the easiest to explore. It’s perfect for those who seek an enjoyable day trekking around its area. But should you be looking for something a bit more challenging, then the Toliman volcano would be ideal instead, experienced adventurers may opt to hike up the mighty Atitlan mountain as well.


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