Alotenango Guatemala: Living At The Foot Of Fuego Volcano

Alotenango and Volcan Fuego

***If you’re looking for coverage of Fuego’s volcanic eruption on June 4, read this post***

Meet Alotenango, a Guatemalan town located nine miles southwest of Antigua and nestled between two volcanoes, one of which is active, Volcan Fuego – literally “Fire Volcano”.

Main Plaza in San Juan Alotenango

Fuego Volcano in the backdrop at Alotenango

Because of Alotenango’s close proximity to Volcan Fuego, the town is regularly subjected to evacuation orders and it’s often the recipient of varying amounts of ashes when Fuego decides to put on a fireworks display. When Fuego is active at night, its lava flows and thundering eruptions – strong enough to shake windows in Antigua, are mesmerizing.

History of Alotenango

Long before the Spanish arrived in Guatemala, Alotenango already had an established population. Historians are divided over the origins of the town’s name and it’s debated that “Alotenango” may either mean “land of tender corn” or “house of the parrot”.

In any case, the land here is very fertile and it is known to produce some of the best coffee beans in the world.

Today, the town is inhabited mainly by Maya peasants who are mostly occupied with the cultivation of corn, beans, and the coffee plants I just mentioned.

Fountain and Alotenango Church

Fountain and Church, San Juan Alotenango

Things To Do in Alotenango

Alotenango is most active during June, which is when the town honors San Juan Bautista (Saint John the Baptist), the saint which the Spanish assigned to residents for veneration when they christened the town as San Juan Alotenango.

The town’s church (above) was built in 1615 and has been rebuilt many times due to earthquakes, last in 1929.

Even though Alotenango is relatively close to Antigua, it’s well off the radar of most visitors who come to the area.

Of interest to visitors in this area will be La Reunion Golf Resort, one of the most unusual golf courses in the world. Not many golf courses can boast having fairways with a live volcano for a backdrop.

Alotenango also has trails to ascend to Volcan Agua, Volcan Fuego, and Volcan Acatenango, though the trails are not well-marked and are dangerous and in bad shape. If you seek to climb any of these volcanoes, seek paths other than those leading from Alotenango.

Living in Alotenago

There aren’t any gated communities inside the town, the closest one for expats being Antigua Gardens, a residential development located half a mile outside the entrance to the town, on highway RN-14. There is a La Bodegona supermarket in town.

Because of the poverty level, there’s been an increment in the number of gang-related crime, such as robberies and extortions, which show no signs of slowing down. Residents have been known to attempt to lynch criminals caught red-handed, and when Police intervene, things often threaten to spiral out of control.

While the plaza and stunning view of Volcan Fuego are interesting for a short daytime visit, the town is not recommended as a place to live.


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Have you visited Alotenango?

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Published by Rich Polanco

Fan of dogs + all things tech. Love a great pizza. My goal is not to travel to every country in the world. I only want to get to know my favorite ones REALLY well. Check out the big bio here. Follow @RichPolanco and connect on Facebook. Currently exploring: Guatemala.