> 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 stretch 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, and here the traditional values and customs of indigenous people are strongest across Central America. In many places across these highlands, Mayan dialects are the first language, and firewood is still used for heating and cooking. Some places even appear locked in time.
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 which can be explored.
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 some sort of firearme - during one hike they even brough a 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 guard 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.
Besides volcano climbing, we did splendid island hopping adventures in LATAM; check our pages on the Corn Islands in Honduras, the Bocas del Toro archipelago in Panama, or the Mesoamerican Reef off Belize and Honduras.