Active Travel: Guatemala hiking

My name is Mary Hof and I live in Cowichan Bay. I am a member of the Outdoor Club of Victoria, Island Mountain Ramblers, Alberni Valley Outdoor Club, and Cowichan Hikers. I love hiking, and I love leading hikes locally or abroad. I have climbed and hiked for 25 years, but reaching the summit of the Golden Hinde in 2017 (highest peak on Vancouver Island) is still one I talk abut the most. It even beats out Kilimanjaro that I did in 2002!

But why do I want to take 22 people on a hiking trip in Central America? That is what I did on Jan 22-Feb 7th, 2019, I might add. I took a group there also in 2017, and have taken groups to Cuba 5 times, plus many other places. I am not a travel agent, nor do I even have a website. Well, I love organizing and researching, and I love the fact that my husband, Gerry, and I can hike in different group levels and both enjoy the day.

I am the hiker that loves a challenge, likes to go further and get a good work out. Gerry is a guy who is more relaxed, likes to hike, but 3-4 hours is enough. So I organize the trip, hire the company to help me out, put it out there, and invite others to join. It works every time. Our group’s ages were between 45 and 72, and we started as friends and ended like family. Hikers came from Vancouver Island, the mainland and Alberta.

The group with their bus (Photo credit:  Their guide, Mario)

This trip to Guatemala was amazing. We hiked, we biked, we brought humanitarian aid, we learned about the culture, relaxed by the ocean, and most importantly, we had fun together.

We had two full-time guides with us, the same bus driver, and I hired local guides in certain areas.

We did 9 days of hiking, each group doing different hikes most days.

We had some amazing hikes. I think Acatenango Volcano (13,004’ with a 6000’ elevation gain) was a highlight for Group 1, and for Group 2, Pacaya volcano (8300’) where the group roasted marshmallows on the hot lava.

Acatenango Volcano (Photo: Carolyn Tuson)


Roasting marshmallows on Picaya Volcano. (Photo: Gerry Hof)

Another highlight was bringing humanitarian aid from home and while there donating money, which the company matched. They made 40 bags of basic staples, and we presented it to the community of 38 families. Theses families are very poor, some living in homes made from plastic. The whole community came to meet us. I tell you, it was very hard to say good-bye to the community.

For me, the group we had was amazing. We had 3 nurses and they came to the aid of our boat driver who could have bled to death. Their fast action saved him, then we collected money for him as we knew he would be out of work for awhile.

Something I will never forget is the song they came up with for the guides and I, at our farewell dinner. Tears swell every time I hear it.

I have made a 20-minute movie that highlights the trip; when you get the time, you can watch it here.

One of the gals from the trip sent it to a friend who spent 6 years in Guatemala in the 70s and 80s, first as a tutor for a missionary’s children, then writing a school book for Mayan children to learn to read their Mayan language. She sent the following response: “Just watched the Guatemala movie. Tell Mary she did a super job. I had tears in my eyes as I followed your journey through the ‘Land of eternal spring’ – Marlene.”

Another person wrote, “Thanks for the opportunity to build happy memories and make a small but positive difference. It was wonderful to travel with such a group of dynamic, interesting, positive and energetic folks.”

And yes, I have organized another trip on November 21 to Dec 5, 2019, to Honduras. I will have 2 groups again for hiking, and again we will take humanitarian aid, volunteer, learn about the culture and most of all, HAVE FUN.

Email me for more info:

I only have one rule: a“Five minutes early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable!”

I believe that for anything I do.

Keep hiking, and enjoy life.

Lake Atitlán, with volcano San Pedro in sight. (Photo: Mary Hof)

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