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Pacaya Volcano, Guatemala

This was a great adventure that our family still talks about. It takes about 2 or 3 hours to climb up the volcano.  There are horses available to help anyone who cannot make the climb up to the volcano fields.  Two locals with the horses followed us almost the whole way.  They were sure that the kids were going to get tired and want to ride the horse instead of hiking.  Honestly, I think that Madison was too afraid of riding the horse up the steep trail and decided that she liked walking better. My kids were 8 1/2 when were there and they didn’t have any problem climbing up or down, but they slept the whole way back to Antigua.

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The most memorable part our journey was roasting marshmallows over the lava vents. We used a very long stick as you can literally see the heat vapors rising off of them. It is best to go with a guide as they take climbers up the volcano all the time and tell you where it is safe to walk. Our guide would walk ahead of us and then tell us the safest way to walk. We did not go all the way to the top as it gets harder and harder to climb, especially with kids in tow.

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We stayed away from the lava flow, but we could still see lava coming down from the crater higher above us. Another one of the highlights of this trek was running down the lava fields. The kids felt like they were running on the moon. Our family still talks about this trip, as it was one of our highlights of our time in Central America. I would definitely recommend this trek as long as you have the proper guide to keep you safe.  I did a lot of research before our trip and made sure that we went on a day that it was not rainy because lighting can be a factor.  We also went early in the day so we had plenty of time to get up and down before it got dark.  I read more than a few reports about how hard it is to get  down from the volcano in the dark.  There are overnight trips that camp on the volcano, but roasting marshmallows was good for us.

TIPS:

Make sure the kids have some hand protection.  My kids wore bicycle gloves so their fingers were free, but there was protection if they put their hands out to stead themselves. The volcanic rock can be like glass and it can easily give you a big gash.  Be sure to bring some band aids, Neosporin and a small first aid spray with you just in case someone gets cut.  Lastly, be sure to wear closed toed shoes.  My daughter wore her Keens and we had to stop every few feet over some parts of the trail to empty out her shoes.

HOW WE DID IT:

We used OX Outfiters in Antigua to set up the whole trip.  Since I wasn’t sure how fast we were going to be climbing and didn’t want to worry about going with a group, we opted for a private excursion.  They provided the van to get there,  lunch on the volcano and the marshmallows.