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Volcanos of Central America

Volcan Fuego, Guatemala 29th- 31st of Dec.2007

M. Rietze, R. Roscoe, Th. Boeckel

in deutsch

The fourth and last volcano was at least the most exciting according to the time schedule for me. While Martin and Richard spent three nights at the summit of the volcano Acatenango (3976m), for me only this night was the chance to observe the volcano, because I had to compete the home journey. After we were present already 10 days in the area were could observe  eruption breaks up toone day. But if the Fuego change in a normal phase into a fire mood, it can erupt impressing every 45 minutes. The ash clouds rise then estimated 2 -3 kilometers, up 7000m.


Already from our hotel roof in Antigua Guatemala we had a good view to the volcanic happenings distanced aroun 15 km. The upper photo shows a stronger ejection whereby even smaller pyroclastic flows run down the steep cone. The Fuego had two weeks before a continuous eruption over 24 hours.

Our position and view point. Aerial image by Google Earth


More overwhelming however is the view of the adjacent volcano Acatenango with  its 3976 meters. The Acatenango is towering the Fuego approximately 200 meters. From this place you can get all three active volcanos of Guatemala in one view. On the right photo you can see in the foreground the volcano Toliman near the Lago Atitlan. In the background left the Sante Maria appers with its ash clouds. If you change to the southern side of the Acatenango crater you can easy observe the lava flows of the Pacaya.

 tb  mr

During the day the volcano is rarely free, however the cloud cover punctually dissolves to the sunset, and a color spectacle opened itself over entirely Guatemala. So, we squatted now on our godly seat, probably knowing that the Fuego can also have a eruption breaks over one night. Yes, and what happened? Nothing! Nothing at all, six hours. Did we end in such a break! The volcano appeared to us like extincted. We engaged ourselves with five-minute exposures to get at least a tiny red shining from the crater. Without success. Richard went to sleep. Jokey I said to Martin, "I believe the Fuege will start after midnight". 


00:29: Jubilation, the first small eruption. With a smile I determined, as desired the activities began shortly in the second night half.


Within two hours the eruptions increased by a multiple and how you can see on the photos,  a lot of glowing material came over the crater rim.  At this time the ash clouds became more powerfully and were moving straight in our direction. After each outbreak it rippled 10 minutes ash, which was very problematic for our photo equipment. The eruptions continiued up to the morning. Unfortunately I had to descend and to begin the home journey. However, Martin and Richard were still on the camera trip. 


Like Martin reported, the activities became still more violent, but a very strong storm swept the next two nights over the summits. Photographing had become extremely difficult. Numerous covered outbreaks were counted.


Every time when the clouds arose, bright eruptions shined through cloud fog. If the mountain was free it remains calmly. Impressive photographs like above did success rarely. 


Enormous eruptions were gushing the entire region of the Acatenango with ash. (Photo down)


Because of the frequent robberies (from the valley to the summit up to 20 in the year are counted) this volcano is not really secure. It is in any case advisable to contact a trekking agency like O.X. (Outdoor Excursions) in Antigua Guatemala. The organizer Viktor as well as the Guides are very engaged to supply you over three nights with water and provision. Also a Security Guard can be hired here.   

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With the colors of the sunrise photographed in the western direction the Central American volcanic odyssey ends here. Seldom we were so impressed of country and the people. However the activities of all four volcanos did support us luckily. With such many facets of active volcanism a journey  into the Central American area is always worthwhile in any case.


Die Farben der Märkte in Antigua Guatemala

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 ©2008 Photos, Text by Thorsten Boeckel (tb),  ©  2008 Photos by Martin Rietze (mr), Last modification 20.Jan.2008

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