Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tackling the RING OF FIRE

This November a group of 11 brave souls came to Guatemala to tackle seven of Guatemala's most impressive volcanoes. We at Old Town Outfitters like to call this trip the "Ring Of Fire" as we summit 7 summits, three of which are spectacularly active cones.

This is the view looking east from atop Santa Maria volcano at nearly 3,600 mts. back across many of the volcanoes we have already summitted. You can see in the distance all the way back to the volcanoes of Agua, Acatenango and Fuego in the Antigua valley a well as the peaks that ring Lake Atitlan.

The hike up Pacaya volcano get us with in Marshmallow roasting range of an active flow. This is like no other place on earth! Pacaya is the kind of place that is made famous by programs like National Geographic. After Pacaya we head out the summit the dormant sentinel that looms over Antigua, Guatemala, Agua volcano. Agua, is a long hard hike but the summit offers up amazing views from Guatemala City to the Pacific Coast.

From Antigua we head out for a 3 day 2 night summit bagging trek up the sister volcanoes of Acatenango and Fuego. These are Guate's premier trekking peaks. We load up the gear on porters and head up to the summit of Guate's third largest peak of Acatenango, 3979 mts. After taking in the views from atop this monster we head to our exclusive campsite for a night of lava fireworks from Fuego's active cone. Just because Fuego is active doesn't mean that we are going to shy away. The next day we wake up and head down to the saddle between the two and hed up the knife like ridge on Fuego and get within a few hundred meters below one of Guate's most active cones.

With the volcanoes of the Antigua valley behind us we head out to Lake Atitlan to climb San Pedro. After this hike we take a welcome down day to rest sore legs at the hotel La Casa del Mundo and take a soak in the wood fired hot tub there. Although we would have loved to stay at the lake a bit longer we still have two more volcanoes to summit. Our next objective is Santa Maria volcano with neighboring "old faithful" Santiaguito Volcano.

Santiaguito is Guatemala's youngest and smallest volcano. Don't be fooled as it super active belching out plumes of lava and ash every hour or so. After Santa maria we head out towards the Mexican Border and climb our last mountain and Guatemala's largest Tajumulco 4220 mts. This trip is an amazing way to get to see our amazing country and enjoy trekking in a comfortable, safe and enjoyable way. We set up all the logistics arrange all the porters and do all the cooking so you only have to hike and have a good time.
Get on board and we'll see on top of one of Guate's volcanoes!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Old town is working to Re-open Acatenango

Acatenango is Back! After nearly 8 months of being "off limits" to hikers due to the "extracurricular activity" of some unsavory locals, Old Town Outfitters has re-opened our hikes and treks to the volcano. Its been a lot of hard work to bring it all together but the opportunity to spend the night on Acatenango at nearly 13,000 ft. and see Fuego do its thing makes it all worth the while.

Over the past year we have been involved in working with members of the local community of La Soledad at the base of the volcano to try and create a management plan for responsible community based tourism in the area. Our goal is to make the area a safe place for tourist to enjoy while at the same time incorporating the community into the master plan.

We believe that as the locals there at the base of the mountain become more involved and incorporated into the development of the park they then will work to keep the area clean, green, safe and beautiful for the days to come. We have been working hard with the good folks out there to build trail, clean and repair campsites, and implement resource officers.

Because we believe that the community is the key designing and maintaining a successful management plan we are employing them as our resource officers who will accompany each and every Old Town Group on the Volcano. This is not only a plan to inject tourist dollars in to the local economy but while on the mountain we will be working to raise awareness of the Environmental issues associated there.

Proceeds of every tourist we take to the volcano will remain in the community by means of development projects. We have organized several projects in the local school to ensure that as you spend your tourist dollars to enjoy a safe and fun experience on Acatenango or Fuego Volcanoes that you will also be helping to kids of La Soledad have the chance for a good education.

See ya on the trail,