Dusty hike towards an active volcano
In 2008, we joined an American family of four and two British university students on a guided hike up Volcan Pacaya near Antigua Guatemala. The hope was to see lava flows and we were not disappointed.
The hike is moderate compared to the strenuous hike up Volcan San Pedro near Lake Atitlan. Our guide was an American who had resided in Guatemala for many years. He took us up to the lip of the caldera, which was a safe distance from the lava flows. From there, we could see other tour groups actually down in the caldera extremely close to glowing lava.
Our guide indicated that he would be willing to lead us through parts of the caldera for a closer look, but emphasized the safety risk. Sturdy shoes were required. Unlike the lava flows in Hawaii, this flow “bubbled” up from below producing a terrain that looked smooth but was actually full of razor sharp glass-like shards. Any skin touching the cooled lava was likely to be badly cut. He warned that in the event of an emergency and we had to leave the area, we should walk steadily to the clearest route out. Running would likely cause someone to fall and get lacerated making it difficult to get the entire group out safely. With that said, we all voted to descend into the caldera.
It was certainly an adventure. Our guide had everyone select hiking sticks to help with stability and picked a route to a lava flow where he pulled out some marshmallows. It’s not often you can say you roasted marshmallows on lava.