> Several weeks of hunting and climbing volcanoes in Guatemala during June - July <
Let's agree on one thing: Central America's most dramatic region is Guatemala's highlands, which stretches from Antigua to the Mexican border west of Huehuetenango and north towards the Cordillera de los Cuchumatanes. Here, every town and village has a history, the traditional values and customs of indigenous people are strongest, Mayan dialects are the first language, and firewood is still used for heating and cooking.
One of the most spectacular regions is Lago de Atitlán, a collapsed volcanic cone filled with shimmering waters to a depth of more than 320m. Three powerful volcanoes surround the caldera lake: Volcán Toliman (3.158m), Volcán Atitlán (3.537m) and Volcán San Pedro (3.020m). Beautiful and colonial Antigua, too, is dramatically nestled between three volcanoes: Volcán Agua (3.766m), Volcán Acatengago (3.976m), and Volcán Fuego (3.763m). These six volcanoes can all be climbed. In north, around Cobán, are mountains, caves, waterfalls and pristine forest lagoons. Come here for undiscovered natural wonders.
We have spent a few weeks hunting volcanoes in these highlands. We quickly learned that we had to take certain precautions: we heard about many incidents of robbery, rape and murder on volcano trails, often by gangs with machetes. Therefore, on every hike, we brought an armed mercenary soldier who took with him typically an AK47 machine gun. These "soldiers" are friendly, cheap and reliable. We did not rely on local authorities, as they would often downplay the danger. Instead, we bought our own solider for a day or two during each of the hikes. This may sound a bit dramatic, but in practice, it felt safe, effective and enjoyable.