This post may include affiliate links. See my policy page for more info.Guatemala’s active volcano Santiaguito emerges with a surge of hot ash & rocks every few hours. We decided to go camping on it.First, let & me inform you a bit about the volcano. Santiaguito Crater is
a lava dome that becomes part of the much larger Santa Maria Volcano. The 12,375 ft. Santa Maria strongly took off in 1902, blowing off the entire Southern side, leading to among the most significant eruptions of the 20th century.Ash from the eruption was discovered 2500 miles away in San Francisco, CA.In my picture of Santa Maria above, you
can see the results from the 1902 surge. Half the mountain is gone.The Santiaguito lava dome was developed in the consequences. Ever since it’s been appearing every few hours for the previous 80 years.No Longer in the world: Santiaguito Lava Dome Crazy People Wanted We were about to climb a grueling 8 hours with 40 pound packs and set up camp on an inactive volcanic vent,
Only INSANE people would attempt to camp on the emerging volcano itself. However with a little Couchsurfing magic, I handled to round up 6 more insane people to join me.
There was one trekking company that wanted to bring people along on this adventure.Still it took them a couple of hours to locate one of the only people who knew the route, as it was a specifically tough hike.His name: Crazy Charlie. Perfect!Steam Vents & Exotic Plants Not A
Walk In The Park To accomplish our objective, we ‘d need to hike, scramble, and outright scale( often vertical! )sections for the bulk of the trip.All this with complete packs loaded with 6 liters of water each, and
for the journey, the group set out and up Volcano Santa Maria for the first 2 hours of the trek. About midway up Santa Maria, we stopped for a break at the Santiaguito Mirador, neglecting the appearing lava dome below.Now it was time to cut through thick jungle overgrowth and move down a steep, ash-covered
lava chute to”The Beach”– a huge landslide-boulder field at the base of Santa Maria and Santiaguito.About 5 hours into the trip, we were all tired as hell. Stowing away some extra water to lighten our loads, together with the machete we no longer needed, we began climbing up the lava dome itself.Can You Spot Crazy Charlie?Welcome To The Moon!It feels as though we have actually left world Earth, and are now hiking on the lunar surface. Everything is covered in a thick layer of ash, making the entire landscape colorless.
Steam is rising through vents in the ground. Clouds and fog are relocating all around us, sometimes making it difficult to see more than 10 feet ahead.But the dome is not entirely lifeless, there are strange plants with huge leaves and green-yellow moss inexplicably outgrowing the ash.Finally we struck our last challenge prior to reaching the top: Only a 30 foot vertical rock climb. With our heavy packs, and no ropes.Oh, which rock you believe you’re grabbing for? It’s actually just a mound of solid ash that falls apart when you put any weight on it. Fun!But with laser-guided focus, mindful screening of hand-holds, and strong interaction, everyone securely make it to the top. Over the previous 8 hours
our group of total complete strangers has developed into an exceptional team– everybody viewing each other’s back.Was It Worth The Trip?Well, after the psychologically & physically exhausting day of
challenging & technical climbing, we were dealt with to one hell of an unbelievable view: Volcano Santiaguito Erupting Beside Us!Hell Yes It Was Worth It !!! Volcano Santiaguito starts
screaming like a jet engine as it releases it’s power. Ash gets thrown 200 meters into the air, and avalanches of rocks go tumbling over one side
into the void below.It was outrageous! The entire process lasts perhaps 5-10 minutes.After processing Nature’s program of power, we built a fire on our lunar landscape with bits and pieces of wood that were carried up strapped to our knapsacks. It was beginning to get dark, and there was a long, cold night ahead.When the sunshine vanished we might hear bats squeaking around in the air above us.As the group relaxed the fire drinking whisky to soothe our hurting muscles, the Earth emerged once again. It was too dark to see
It came down like snowflakes, reflecting off our flashlight beams.Our fatigue and the whisky soon began to start however, and all 7 of us stuffed into a 5 person tent. We had actually been fearing it, and for great factor. There was no sleep to be had all night.It was cold, wet, confined, and our next-door neighbor loudly appeared 2 or 3 more times throughout the evening.It’s hard to sleep next to a jet engine.Hiking on the Active Crater Should We Really
Be Doing This?But the experience wasn’t over! The next morning at 5am we discussed the edge of our camping area and down to meet our neighbor in person.Scrambling downward over steep rocks, calling out to each other
valley beside the active vent.From there it was UP the active Santiaguito crater itself! It might appear at anytime, with us on it. Although we weren’t actually on the side that typically got hit with rockslides, our nerves were still on edge. Volcanoes are a bit unpredictable, after all.On the top, at the really lip of the active crater, huge sulfur fumes covered us. We wrapped bandanas or t-shirts around our faces to help with the overpowering smell.unrise on Santiaguito Prepare For The Most awful Early morning fog and clouds surrounded us, so we just got fleeting glimpses into the crateritself.Crazy Charlie informed us that if the volcano emerged while we were on
projectile rocks from the interior (they would just fly over us). Luckily we didn’t have to experience this emergency very first
hand … Eventually it was time to pack whatever up and start the grueling 8 hour journey back to civilization. And get all the ashes out of our clothes.
★ Enjoy Video: Volcano Santiaguito Trek in Guatemala(Click to watch Exploration to the Moon on Vimeo)More Details Area: Quetzaltenango (Xela ), Guatemala Business: Altiplanos Expense:$ 60 United States per person( group of 7)Useful Notes: Load plenty of snacks, and a great first aid kit must you need it( I did ). This journey will be twice as hard as you believe it’s going to be. Basic equipment is provided, however bring your own if you have it.What was the coolest walking you’ve ever been on? Tell me a message in the comments below!Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are”affiliate
links.”This means if you click on the link and purchase the product, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only suggest product and services I utilize personally and believe will add worth to my readers.
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