Reporter Rae Wilson after the 4km hike up Pacaya Volcano near Antigua in Guatemala.
Reporter Rae Wilson after the 4km hike up Pacaya Volcano near Antigua in Guatemala. Rae Wilson

A Latin Affair: Fun under a recently-active volcano

TOASTING marshmallows in a steam vent under a thick wall of hardened lava is, well, surreal.

Pacaya Volcano, 2552m high, exploded most violently in 2010 and 2014 so the rivers of once bright-red lava have frozen into black stone mid-stream.

Typical activity in recent years is strombolian which means there is some lava flow  and intermittent lava fountaining but often it's the ash that causes the most damage to nearby areas.

The day before our climb, others had told us they saw some of the red stuff.

We did not but the heat as you walk over some parts is so warm, you almost expect your shoes to melt off your feet.

Along the two-hour hike up the volcano, you get to see Fuego Volcano exploding in the distance about every 10 minutes

Keep your camera at the ready to capture shots of dust and rocks flying from the peak.

Horses can take you to the top if you don't fancy the 4km walk up.

Friends had hiked to the top of nearby Acatenango Volcano after a 2am start; ascending in the dark for a time.

They saw the sun rise and felt the rumble of nearby Fuego every time it went.

The views from the top were amazing but the hike was hard yakka - make sure you take your own headlamp and poles if you dare to follow in their footsteps.

Pacaya is an easier tour from the charming colonial city of Antigua.

Just outside the dirty, ugly and huge Guatemala City, this cobblestoned delight is another photographer's dream.

Like San Cristóbal de las Casas in Mexico and Trindad in Cuba, Antigua is full of pastel-coloured buildings in the city centre.

To preserve the colonial feel, even the big American takeaway joints are not easily distinguishable thanks to discreet signage.

Head to the chocolate museum for a chocolate-making session or salsa the night away in a dance class.

As well as plenty of adventure activities available in the area, nearby Lake Atitlan is a feast for the eyes and a recipe for the soul.

Check this out for some more information on the surrounding areas.