“The Land of Lakes and Volcanoes”, better known as Nicaragua, unsurprisingly offers many opportunities to hike and explore volcanoes.
In fact, there are 19 volcanoes in Nicaragua, of which 9 are active!
Before I left for my travels (at the time of writing I’m going on five months abroad), I worked out almost every day. I was a yoga junkie, I craved the heat, humidity, and spiritual connection. Although I’ve been practicing and teaching yoga while abroad, it doesn’t quite compare to being at home and going to my favorite classes. My consolation? Hiking! Particularly volcanoes!
There are so many different volcanoes that you can hike. I hiked just four during my month long trek through this beautiful country.
Upon arriving in Nicaragua, I knew I wanted to board down Cerro Negro, an active volcano.
This activity requires you to first hike up the volcano. Cerro Negro is about one hour outside of Leon, surrounded by several other volcanoes.
It’s only about an hour hike up to the top of the volcano. You’ve got such interesting views along the way. The volcano is true to it’s name sake: black hill. It’s primarily black sand, mixed with shades of white and burnt red. An expansive green valley surrounds the mountain, mimicking the Serengeti. Telica and San Cristóbal volcanoes, the country's tallest volcano, are in view.
Read this for full details on the Cerro Negro volcano hike and volcano boarding.
El Hoyo Overnight Volcano Hike
I met Dominique one night in Leon for a night of history, BBQ and Toñas just outside of the city, looking onto it from an old fortress. From Amsterdam, she was living in Leon doing research for her thesis on Volcano tourism in Nicaragua. She was going on an overnight, full moon hike to El Hoyo Volcano the next day and asked if I wanted to join last minute. I said, YES!
The next day our group of 5 set off to hike El Hoyo. The volcano is an hour outside Leon, the base of the volcano very near Cerro Negro. In fact, you can volcano board on Cerro Negro in the morning and then overnight hike El Hoyo in the afternoon.
The first few hours of the El Hoyo hike are quite dirty and barren. The first hour is also very steep and the barren landscape provides little relief from the relentless sun. We had backpacks in tow with additional clothes for the night and next day, lots of water, food, camp gear and firewood. It was hot, and hard. Then things seemed to level out a bit. More trees began to cover us and provide relief from the hot sun.
We arrive to the campsite before sunset. This was probably the most spectacular sunsets of my travels in Central America. On the west the fiery red sun was preparing to rest for the night, to the east the cool hues of the moon rising for the night.
After a night of eating and drinking around the campfire and gazing at the incredible, glowing moon, we wake for sunrise then continue the hike for another four hours to the lake.
Concepción volcano is one of two volcanoes, the other being Maderas. These two volcanoes conjoin to create the island of Ometepe island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua.
Concepción is the taller and steeper of the two volcanoes on Ometepe island, towering at 1600m (5,249 feet). Maderas is known to be quite muddy, it also offers a lake at the top of the volcano.
Contrary to my belief of volcanoes being barren, Concepción from the very beginning with brimming with trees, plants and wildlife. It was a tough hike, very steep, requiring stamina to climb the mud, rock and stairs. I was incredibly thankful for the shade.
At around 3,267 feet on Concepción, there is a view point. It’s here people often stop because it’s far too cloudy and windy to safely continue to the top.
Outside of Granada lies Volcan Masaya. It’s an active volcano in the Central America Volcanic Arc mountain range that extends 1,500 km (930 miles) along the Pacific Coast from Guatemala to northern Panama, along with Acatenango, Fuego, San Cristóbal, Telica, Cerro Negro, Concepción and so many more volcanos.
Volcan Masaya is Nicaragua's first and largest national park.
You can hike this volcano during the day, however since it’s known for being able to see lava I had to go at night to see this amazing probably once in a life time phenomenon.
At night, you must arrive by car, so my trip to Masaya was less of a hike and more of a ride up to the top.
Prepare to wait; bring beer (I prefer Toñas, but Victoria is good too), good company and a good attitude. I promise, this marvel is worth the wait!
More Volcanoes in Nicaragua
There are many more volcanoes in Nicaragua in which you can climb, including; Telica, Maderas, and Mombacho.
Contact us to help you plan your volcano hiking adventures in Nicaragua.