IN THE LAND OF VOLCANOES: THE TOP 5 HIKES IN NICARAGUA
Peppered with the smoking calderas of countless volcanoes, beset by deep and misty stretches of primeval forest, trodden by curious tree frogs and jaguars, white-headed capuchin monkeys and ocelots alike, it’s hardly surprising that Nicaragua is the go to place for trekkers in Central America these days. Check out this list of the nation’s top hikes, some of which are on the menu of our acclaimed Nica itineraries!
Delve into the wild world of capuchin monkeys and howlers, mountain crabs and blooming tropical orchids that dominates the verdant southern half of the impossibly beautiful Ometepe Island on Lake Nicaragua. It is here that the brooding, belching summit of Concepción rises to the north, which means that hikers on the smaller (and easier to climb) peak of Maderas enjoy breathtaking broadside views of the great collapsed caldera in the distance. Hiking to the tip of Maderas typically takes around eight hours from beginning to end, weaving through cloud forests and jungle to the curious crater lagoon up top – enjoy the swim!
Just a short jaunt to the north-east of the Spanish-flavored city of León, rising like a great stone backbone amidst the peaks of the Cordillera de los Maribios, Cerro Negro is not only one of the youngest volcanoes in all of Nicaragua, but also the most active. Plumes of sulphur and smoke regularly issue from its ever-rising caldera, making the hike to the top, across the smoking shale ridges and haphazard trails, one of the most adrenaline-pumping going. Oh, and when it’s time to come down, be sure to crack the boards out – this is one of the top spots for volcano surfing in the world!
San Cristóbal Volcano
The last – and mightiest – of the Cordillera de los Maribios chain of volcanoes that carves its way out of the tropical valleys on the eastern edge of Nicaragua, San Cristóbal Volcano is not for the faint-hearted! Aside from the regular eruptions, casting clouds of gas, smoke and ash into the air above sleepy Chinandega, the hike weaves through countless little coffee plantations and rustic villages before finding the official trail. From there, it’s up to the wind-blasted tips of the caldera, where shale fields and crumbling metamorphic rocks cascade down from the summit at 1,745 meters above sea level! Not easy stuff.
Just a stone’s throw from the throbbing capital city of Managua, the Masaya Volcano overshadows the beautiful tropical lowlands of southern Nicaragua – precisely where you’ll be while flitting between the Spanish-esque towns, pool parties and volcanoes on our Naturally Nica itinerary. A real favourite with trekkers, the peak here is eminently climbable, topping out at just 635 meters and offering maintained trails right the way to the summit. Along the route, be sure to spy out the smoking depths of the Santiago Crater. Oh, and there are night tours on this one too, affording visitors the opportunity to see bubbling magma chambers glow under the haze of the Milky Way.
Cut deep into the volcanic hinterland just south of Masaya, the Apoyo Lagoon is unquestionably one of the most beautiful and bucket-list-topping sights in all of Nica. A shimmering, cerulean-blue swathe of water enfolded by the soaring volcanoes all around it, Apoyo is a veritable mecca for hiking too. Trails weave all around the banks of the lake, passing scuba spots and the occasional lagoon beach as they goes, cutting through tropical forests where the boulders host grass-green iguanas, and crossing lush valleys of swaying palms and kaleidoscopic orchids alike! Nice.
Find more information on all the tours LBW offers in Nicaragua HERE!