(1) Volcan Acatenango - 3976m.
The 4am start, a heavy bag filled with camping gear and food, the gravelly volcanic terrain (near the top, for every two steps up you would slide one back down), and the altitude (its the third highest mountain in Central America) made this a tough seven hour hike to the top. It was all worth it however when we pitched our tents in the crater and then sat on the crater's rim to watch the sunset. While Acatenango has not erupted in 30 years, Volcan Fuego is right next to it and it erupts constantly. Sitting on top of one volcano, drinking a glass of wine, watching a volcano blow out smoke and lava every ten minutes as the sun set was an amazing experience. Then up bright and early to see the sunrise. An unforgettable hike.
(2) Volcan Pacaya - 2552m.
Although it was only an hour and a half hike to the top, it was certainly a hike that stands out. The heat emanating from the ground of this very active volcano was tremedous, so much so that I felt I had to keep moving to prevent from shoes from melting - a far cry from the bogs of the Wicklow Mountains!
Standing next to a river of lava was a crazy experience, and the marshmallows we cooked over the lava were the perfect complement to the scene.
(3) Volcan Tajumulco - 4220m.
Another 4am start and another heavy bag, but again it was all worth it to get to the top of the highest point in Central America. Since we camped 200 metres below the summit, we had to get up at 3.30am to hike to the top for sunrise. Sitting on the top of Central America in a cozy sleeping bag watching an amazing sunrise with erupting volcanoes visible in the distance was certainly a great way to start a day!