A light is switched on, waking me up. With earplugs in my ears, my jacket and bonnet on, I am slowly extracting myself from my sleeping bag. It is early! 3:15a.m. Around me, other sleepy trekkers start to pack their sleeping bags and mattresses that cover the floor of Don Pedro’s dining room in a remote village in Guatemala. Only a few hours ago, the 15 of us from all over the world were singing songs around a campfire after a hearty meal cooked by Don Pedro’s wife, and delicious starwberry and pineapple licuados (smoothies). Now, it is time to get moving as we are heading towards a grassy mountaintop to watch the sunrise over Lake Atitlan.
We are on a three-day trek with Quetzaltrekkers, a non-profit organization which makes schooling accessible to local street kids. As the name implies, Quetzaltrekkers organizes different multiple-day treks. With our two passionate guides who work on a voluntary base, we are about to start the last part of our three-day adventure.
As we walk uphill along a small road, we are joined by two police officers whose mission is to scare away potential robbers. After a steady climb, we pause when one of the officers enthusiastically points in the distance and says: “Volcán de Fuego!” A choir of “Ah’s!” and “Wow’s!” fill the dark night, as we are all puzzled by the sight of the red lava blown by this active volcano!
Claire Lessiau & Marcella van Alphen (text & photographs)Travel tips:
- Several organizations organise treks in this region, yet Quetzaltrekkers is non-profit and makes sure your money is well spent. Founded in 1995, it has consistently funded housing and schooling of street children of the Quetzaltenango area thanks to an international team of volunteers.
- Contact Quetzaltrekkers for volunteering opportunities, hiking through the mountains of Guatemala to help street kids.
- As Quetzaltrekkers operates from Quetzaltenango (nicknamed Xela), take this opportunity to discover local non-touristy markets in the area (San Fransisco El Alto, Totonicapán, etc).
- Inspired and ready for some more Guatemala? Check this epic Guatemala intinerary to find out where to go and where to stay.
- Check out this interactive map for the specific details to help you plan your trip and more articles and photos (zoom out) about the area (short tutorial)!
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For more awesome multiday hiking adventures, click on one of these images: