Walking on lava
Trip Start Sep 28, 2007
91Trip End Jun 25, 2008
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The next morning we took the chicken bus back to Antigua and in the afternoon went on a trip to climb the lava spewing Volcan Pacaya, which is between Antigua and Guatemala City to the south.
The bus wound up the steep dirt road past the nearby village. You could take a horse up the 3 km climb to the true base of the volcano, but we walked.
There were mountains in all directions, one looked just like Mt Taranaki from home.
We got to a mound where Guatemala City was on one side and Volcan Pacaya on the other.
We then climbed down to the base of the lava flow. Coming down I was chilled by the icy wind but as soon as we got to the field it became warm from the lava.
We walked over solidified lava that our guide told us was no more than 40 days old, and in places we could see lava flowing underneath our feet.
The set lava was a silver colour with thin needles of crystal spikes in it, like you get when making sweets from boiled sugar. It made a crunching noise to walk on and was so light. It reminded me of the coins of fake money that children play with. In places you could see formations that looked like meringues, where the liquid lava had bunch up as it flowed, like lightly whipped cream, before setting.
Just before sunset, we got to a stream of lava that was still flowing . It was like watching a river in slow motion. People started toasting marshmallows for the novelty.
Cutting the timing very fine, we clambered back over the lava flow just as the light was fading
Looking over the other way, we could see the lights from Guatemala City and silhouettes of the surrounding mountains with the last streaks of pink from the sunset. It was such a beautiful spot.
When we looked back at Volcan Pacaya, we could see the peak glowing and throwing a few sparks of lava into the air. Being there was a truly magical experience.
We came down through the forest by torch light and there was a beautiful golden moon just to top it off.
Our guide told us that the volcano changes constantly and we had seen it with only a small amount of lava. Sometimes there are ten rivers of liquid lava 100 metres long. Incredible.