Like Cerro de la Cruz, Volcán de Agua is something of a Antiguan conundrum. On the one hand, this behemoth dominating the city skyline is a 3,760 m geologic masterpiece: perfect conical shape, challenging 3-5 hour climb, magnificent views overlooking southern Guatemala, the works. On the other hand, it's plagued by issues like sporadic but persistent crime, noticeable buildups of garbage along the trail and competition from taller, even more magnificent volcanoes (like Acatenango) to the west. Having trouble making up your mind? You're not alone; which is why we've jotted down some information that will help you get the most out of an adventure to this towering natural landmark.
First and foremost, when it comes to safety, while the trail can easily be traversed alone you're better off hiking in the company of either a local guide or a police escort (which can be arranged in Antigua). This is especially true on the lower third of the mountain. Your best bets for guides will come from the tourist office in Santa Maria de Jesus (the town which sits at the trail-head to the most popular route up), since their relationship with the local thieves can often prevent robberies from occurring. Also, make sure to pack appropriately as plenty of water and warm clothes are a necessity when camping out inside the crater.
If you're feeling a bit more ambitious, Agua also happens to house some of Guatemala's most accessible and challenging downhill mountain biking. These runs tend not to be for beginners, covering loose terrain and single-track trails perfect for experienced riders. There are a few outfitters in Antigua who provide this adventure, so check out our links for more details. Whichever way you tackle it, however, just bear in mind that as long as you stay smart and safe you'll end up wondering why you ever contemplated not taking on this beautiful volcano in the first place.