Guatemala Volcano Eruption

I climbed the Santa Maria Volcano outside of Quetzaltenango in Guatemala last summer. The nice lady at the hotel who unlocked the doors at 5:00 was concerned. She told me that a Canadian was robbed there the week before. I took the little flash disk out of the camera and put it in a hidden pocket.

After three or four hours straight up, I spent an hour on the summit. Santa Maria is extinct but right below it is very active Santiaguito. I saw it erupt five times. The noise was massive and toxic smoke blew close.

The video is of one of the smaller ones:

Way off in the distance is the Pacific Ocean. To the left and right are the line of volcanoes that crosses southern Guatemala. I could see the group around Lake Atitlan. One far beyond was smoking. It must have been Fuego, by Antigua.

I only had a few days to spend in Xela (Quetzaltenango). I climbed alone because the year before I’d gone with a hiking club from Guatemala City in the pouring rain and saw nothing but clouds. I needed to get back up there, and now I knew the route.


About Ted Campbell

U.S.-Canadian writer, translator and university teacher in Mexico. Travel stories and practical tips on my blog No Hay Bronca: Twitter: @NoHayBroncaBlog // Contact: nohaybroncablog (at)

Posted on November 11, 2012, in Guatemala and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Incredible! Santiaguito was constantly puffing its stuff when I was in Xela and little earthquakes were always afoot! Glad you lucked out with the weather and got to see it…seeing something like that is always amazing.
    If you ever make it to Ecuador and go to Banos (almost everyone does) try to spend a night in the abandoned refugio on the slopes of Tungurahua ( Beautiful.

    Nicaragua has some pretty accessible, active volcanoes too…

    awesome stuff

    • The first time I climbed Santa Maria it was totally cloudy, so I missed out. A year later, the day I took these pictures, the sky seemed pretty overcast and I thought I´d miss out again! But then I spent over an hour up there and saw at least five eruptions. Hell yeah I lucked out!

      I went to Banos five or six years ago and climbed up the slopes of that volcano – I can´t remember the name but it was probably the same one. Big black rocky peak? On the way down an old man invited me into his home and shared his soup with me. What a great guy. I loved Ecuador.

      Last time I checked your blog it looked like you were done with your trip… is that right? Where are you now?

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