Some of the best nightlife you’ll experience a friend told me. So Antigua made sure to be a place high on the list when I visited Central America.


I checked into Tropicana Hostel, owned by an Irishman from Derry who loves sitting around all day mixing with absolutely everyone, genuinely one of the best hostel owners I’ve met. He is keen to make sure everyone is involved and has the life of Riley if you ask me!


Sitting at the pool having a beer together I asked him a genuine question,

“What do you do all day?”

His reply, “you’re looking at it Dave,”while slipping on his ice cold Corona.

The fella is not scared of a bit of hard graft, he has turned the place into what it is today, one of Central America’s best hostels. Just now he prefers to enjoy the fruits of his labours, a good balance!

Two dogs staring in Antigua, Guatemala. Volcano hiking in Guatemala


Staying in Antigua one thing you will notice immediately is the continuously active volcano sitting, for my liking, far too close to the city. And only in Central America would it make sense to climb its sister to get even closer to it.

I made the booking the following day after Kezia and Ailish, who I met in Flores caught up. They took a bit of persuading but considering Kezia had a dislocated shoulder she was easier to coax than Ailish


It’s a 1 night hike and is only as hard as the amount of kit you bring with you but with Kezia’s current predicament it becomes a little more difficult. The guide had to carry her bag and his own! We were collected around 9am and taken to the guide’s house at the foot of the mountain. Lunch and a tent was provided but the guide thought it appropriate to only bring a 3 person tent which seemed odd as there was 5 of us. Although after hearing the stories of the people doing it the day before we thought we would need the extra bodies in the tent to keep us warm.


At the beginning the hike can be a little relentless as the first hour is nothing but a steep incline however stops can be frequent and the pace is usually slow. I’ve seen some who have made it to the top so don’t feel you need to have a certain level of fitness, it’s possible for almost everyone.

One thing you aren’t able to help is the issues with the altitude, the summit stands at an impressive 4,000m. Altitude sickness would get at me at times and I was drowsy from a certain point onwards but the tablets probably didn’t help. Ailish struggled towards the end its uncommon at such a low altitude as most ski resorts are within the same elevation.

Volcano hiking in Guatemala


You generally hit basecamp in the afternoon which gives you time to setup the tent, enjoy the views and have some food before getting some sleep. As many of my friends will know I’m not huge into my camping but the views from this tent were like nothing I could have imagined. We were currently sitting above the clouds with uninterrupted views of a volcano which was currently spilling it’s guts.

Hiking above the clouds in Antigua, Guatemala. Volcano hiking in Guatemala
Resting above the clouds in Antigua, Guatemala. Volcano hiking in Guatemala


After the sunset we spent the rest of the evening trying not to freeze to death, after all we were 3500m above sea level. Ailish however spent most of her evening watching the guide sneeze into her pot noodle, though the extra calories proved to be important.

The night’s sleep was interesting. I know there is always some leeway to maybe fitting 4 into a 3 person tent but 5 proved to be a complete joke, especially seeing as Ailish spent most of the night throwing up so the wakeup call was very much welcome.

David Simpson and friendly dog viewing an active volcano in Antigua, Guatemala. Volcano hiking in Guatemala
David Simpson above the clouds in Antigua, Guatemala. Volcano hiking in Guatemala

Volcano hiking in Guatemala


It was another 90minutes to the top and we were probably the last ones there as Ailish tried to turn back quite a few times but was carried by the guide and dragged by the dog! She had came this far so it would have been a shame to turn around now. Once at the top, given the lack of sleep, food and body heat, it was agreed all the madness was worth it as it was one of the best sunrises I have ever seen!

The sun came up perfectly from the other side of the erupting volcano and I could have stayed for a lot longer. If you do decide on this hike then don’t forget to have a look on the mountain you are on, it’s also a volcano and if you take a quick look around you’ll see the crater that once was.

David Simpson and a friendly dog viewing sunrise above the clouds in Antigua, Guatemala. Volcano hiking in Guatemala

Volcano hiking in Guatemala


After a few more nights we jumped onto the bus and headed for Roatan, another island this time just off the coast of Honduras. Long overnight buses are a thing you will have to get used to here but when you lose your silly headphone adaptor those trips get a little more difficult.

Got to La Ceiba, a small coastal town where you get the boat to the islands. The girls are going to Utila but I’ve heard Roatan is a better choice and has an airport so I can get to Nicaragua sharpish.


I don’t think I will ever gain a pair of sea legs, it was a shocker and wasn’t the only one having difficulties. I was warned about the sailing and doused myself in travel sickness tabs which seem to take forever and a day to kick in.

As for Roatan itself it was nothing to shout about and I wouldn’t have missed out on much had I not came. The best beach on the island was a terrible disappointment and full of tourists, vendors and cruise liners, not the best choice I’ve made travelling but you cant win them all!

A road and the locals in Roatan, Honduras. Volcano hiking in Guatemala

Volcano hiking in Guatemala


  • PEOPLE – 7/10
  • BACKPACKING – 7/10
  • WEATHER – 7/10
  • THINGS TO DO – 7/10
  • VALUE –  8/10


At times it wasn’t easy but it’s without doubt if you are visiting Central America you should look to add it onto your list!


More volcano antics in Nicaragua! Click to read.


This post is part of The Central American Series, click to explore or for episode 1 click here.

Question Time

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