by Enrique Berardi/PGA TOUR
The golf course hosting the Guatemala Stella Artois Open provides scenic views of the Fuego, Acatenango, Agua and Pacaya volcanoes.
ANTIGUA GUATEMALA, Guatemala – La Reunion Golf Resort, home of the Guatemala Stella Artois Open, is characterized by offering a unique landscape every PGA Tour Latinoamérica season. The 172-acre property where its golf course is located is surrounded by four volcanoes, two of them in constant activity.
The striking natural surroundings here capture the imagination of all visitors, regardless of how many times they had been here in the past. Its main attraction is the impressive Fuego volcano, which dominates the landscape. Its name in the indigenous language Kaqchikel is "Chi Gag,” which means "where the fire is." This Volcano of Fire is over 12,000 feet high and eruption records date back to the Mayan civilization that lived in this area.
So strong has been the activity of the volcano throughout its history, some studies by the Guatemalan Institute of Seismology claim that its ashes have reached as far as El Salvador and Honduras. Players should not be surprised to experience light earthquakes generated by its eruptions throughout this week at the Fuego Maya golf course.
Guatemala's Pablo Acuña, one of the players in this week’s field and a PGA TOUR Latinoamérica member in the past, is a passionate mountaineer and throughout his life has been able to climb all the major volcanoes in the country.
“Fuego and Acatenango are the two most iconic volcanoes in Guatemala. When you get to their top, you can really feel a special energy,” says the 32-year-old pro. “The Fuego volcano is the definitely the most difficult to climb. However, a few weeks ago I joined some friends and took up the challenge. I was able to get about a hundred yards from the top and it was an amazing experience”.
Although the Fuego volcano is the most striking, it’s not the only one you see on property. The Acatenango volcano is right next to the Fuego and many people categorize it as its twin brother. It is characterized by two peaks, Pico Mayor and Yepocapa, the latter known as "Tres Hermanos" or "Tres Marias."
"The Acatenango is the most visited by tourists because of its proximity to the city,” said Acuña, a graduate of the University of Houston, Texas. “Additionally, it is possible to climb it in one day (for beginners, the ascend takes about seven hours). It’s a tough climb, with a high degree of difficulty and I know because once I got lost. Fortunately, I got back on track and found the strength to make it to the top, setting a new personal record of two hours and 40 minutes.”
At 12,700 feet high, Acatenango has been dormant since the mid-twentieth century. It does not have a crater at its peak, but a hollow with a slope slightly inclined with a sandy surface. From its summit it provides an incredible view of the Fuego volcano eruptions.
The Agua (Water) volcano, at 12,400 feet, gets its name because it has a virgin forest and some water concentrations near its top. It is located northeast of La Reunion and dominates the landscape along the back nine.
Located a little further away, the Pacaya volcano is the other one that can be seen from the course. It has produced 23 large-scale eruptions since the Spanish colonization, with the last one happening late in 1965. At 8,373 feet high, Pacaya became a National Park on July 20, 1963, and today is one of the favorite tourist sites in Central America.
“Climbing volcanoes makes you strong!” said Acuña, proud to share the natural wonders of his country. “You can really feed off their energy when you start climbing them. These are magical mountains and that’s what makes La Reunión such a special place. There is no other place like this in Guatemala.”