Hiking Pacaya Volcano

One of the most exciting excursions our volunteers do when volunteering in Guatemala is hiking Pacaya Volcano in Guatemala.

The entire Pacaya Volcano experience is a “half-day” excursion, usually lasting from 8am to 2pm door-to-door from the city of Antigua (where many of our volunteers live and work).

Hiking Pacaya Volcano

Most people who volunteer in Guatemala get the chance to hike the volcano — whether they are building houses or volunteering at an orphanage.

Hiking Pacaya Volcano is an incredibly rewarding experience but also very challenging physically.

You essentially need to be fit enough to walk up a hill for 2-3 straight hours.

You will sweat a lot but the air is windy and cool (especially at the top) so you’ll feel a bit clammy at times. Best to dress in layers.

Pacaya Volcano Album on our Facebook page

You can though hire a horse to take you up the volcano. It costs $20-$30 and there are horses and guides stationed throughout the hike.

Hiking Pacaya Volcano

You can start out on foot to see how you feel, then hire a horse ride if you don’t feel up to hiking.

Pacaya is an active volcano. Its last major eruption was very recent — in 2010, with ash columns up to 1,500 meters high and ash and volcanic debris raining down on Guatemala City and many surrounding small towns.

You probably won’t see any rivers of lava on your hike. But at certain points you can see smoke rising from the ground and feel the lava’s heat on your feet.

In fact at one stop on the hike, our guide gives out marshmallows that you roast using the heat rising from the earth.

Hiking Pacaya Volcano

The volcano and surrounding area now lie within Pacaya National Park which was created to supervise and protect tourism in the region. The park generates its income from entrance fees from tour groups like ours.

The views at the top of Pacaya Volcano are simply spectacular.

The amazing views include the volcanoes Fuego, Acatenango, and Agua as well as Guatemala City, Antigua, and dozens of villages.

Operation Listen to Love

One of our former volunteers has created a project called Operation Listen to Love — to donate items and cash in Guatemala several times a year.

The mission of Operation Listen to Love is to donate items such as new/used clothes, books, toys, school supplies, etc. to Semillas de Amor and other Guatemalan orphanages.

Operation Listen to Love is being run by Janine Kim, a California high school student, who volunteered through Cosmic Volunteers at the Semillas de Amor orphanage in Guatemala in the summer of 2013.

Cosmic Volunteers is providing guidance to Janine and her peer, as well as paying shipping costs for items they will send to Guatemala.

According to their Facebook page, this is how you can help Operation Listen to Love:

> Donate the above items and more kid-appropriate things to me or a participating club!

> Donate money directly to Semillas de Amor.

> Spread the word!!! use this project for your youth group, club, etc.

> Message Janine for more info!

Children and staff at Semillas de Amor:

Semillas De Amor Orphanage

Emam Murray Volunteers in Guatemala

Emma Murray wrote a blog about her volunteer experience in Guatemala. She spent two weeks helping to build a house in a village outside of the city of Antigua.

Here is an excerpt from her blog:

Day 15 – Last Day

Bittersweet endings seem to cling to me. It’s a pattern of occurrence I cannot seem to shake off.

We cranked out half of the house today in compensation for the time we lost waiting for materials earlier this week. At the end of the day our coordinator brought us cake and drinks to share with the family and to celebrate a long and hard week we endured to bring them this house.

It was sad to say goodbye to the family. To Hugo and Elivia, the little children. To the kittens born a couple days ago in the barn house. To the crazy uncle that would always come up to me and say “Whaaaa tyyme izit!!!!!” no matter how recently he had just asked me. To the kind grandmother that sewed my pants (I brought her a traditional cake bread the next day in thanks, and to my horror as soon as I handed it to her I realized that she had no teeth…. I don’t know how she ate it).

And to the masons especially. They were so patient and understanding. I learned so much. Who knew I could build a house?!

I leave for the airport soon. In the 25+ hours of travel I’m sure more eloquent words will come to mind, but for now I’d like to give everyone that I have met a giant hug.

I realize that they have all shaped this adventure in their own way. However trivial or large, my new experiences would have been nothing without the people that created them.

Emma Murray (USA-Germany)
House Building Volunteer, Guatemala