Volcanoes in Nicaragua
You don’t have to be a geologist to appreciate the immense power and beauty of a volcano in Nicaragua. The incredibly fertile soil that surrounds these 'creatures of the earth' helps create an incredibly beautiful home for many animals and plants. Add to this the gentle rumbling of the living, breathing volcano beneath your feet and the thrill of knowing you’re so close to one of earth’s most awesome natural powers – all of this combines to create one of the most amazing natural experiences that man can enjoy.
Nicaragua’s Volcanoes can be both fierce and tranquil – it all depends on when you visit.
Nicaragua has one of the most impressive volcanic chains in Central America. It features more than fifty volcanic cones of which seven are active. These cones rise off a flat coastal plain which is just above sea level – a geographical feature that makes them more striking to look at and more accessible to climbers and hikers. Of course, this would be a very long page if we were to write on all fifty volcanoes. Instead, we have chosen to list only a few of the more popular tourist attractions. Below you will find a list and brief description of the top nine volcanoes in Nicaragua. Remember to check with authorities that the volcano is ‘safe’ before attempting to climb or hike to their summits.
Cerro Negro Volcano – Located in the middle of the Maribios Volcano Mountain Range, the small but incredibly active Cerro Negro continues to erupt with some ferocity. The volcano currently measures just 450 meters in height and is one of the newest volcanoes to emerge from beneath the earth in the Americas. Cerro Negro had eleven heavy eruptions in the 20th century, the last of which resulted in a further three craters opening up at its base. It is possible to hike up the black gravel-like sides of the volcano. The hike up the north face takes about one hour and after tackling that you might try to slide down the steep western face.
Telica Volcano – This spectacular volcano is situated in Leon in the central parts of the Maribios Volcano range. This volcano is roughly 1061 meters above sea level and its western face is being constantly eroded. While the volcano last erupted in 1999, it still emits a light but constant smoke. There is a long but enjoyable hike up the east face of the summit that takes roughly 6-8 hours. There are three starting points and you can choose to make a round trip or continue on to the village of San Jacinto. The most spectacular thing to see at the summit is the vertical inner walls of the volcano’s crater.
Momotombo Volcano – Noted as one of Nicaragua’s most picturesque volcanoes, Momotombo is located on the southern tip of the Maribios Range. Its symmetrical cone rises to an elevation of 1 300 meters and it towers over the shores of Lake Managua. The volcano is still smoking and is listed as being active, but it has not seen an eruption since 1905. Besides long (2 days), beautiful hikes it features a geothermal plant at its base.
San Cristobal Volcano - One of Nicaragua’s seven active volcanoes, San Cristobal is located just outside the city of Cinandega. It has constantly erupted since 2001 and today is the country’s highest volcano at 1745 meters above sea level. The hike to the summit is difficult and recommended only for the fittest hikers. If you do not fit this category and still which to make it to the peak, you may be able to arrange a shorter climb from the adjoining Casitas Volcano.
Cosiguina Volcano - The Cosiguina Volcano is located in the province of Chinandega. It is the most north-western volcano in the country and rises to 800 meters above sea level. There is a 3-5 day hike through forest reserve that will take you up the crater to the lip of the volcano from where you can enjoy a most memorable view of the Gulf of Fonseca and its many islands. There is also an incredibly beautiful crater lake hidden at the bottom of the volcano's steep inner walls.
Concepción Volcano – located on the Island of Ometepe, Concepción rises an impressive 1610 meters above sea level. It is the second highest in the country and is also incredibly beautiful. Concepción last spewed ash and smoke in 1999 but has not seen lava flow since 1957. The slopes of the cone have been claimed for a nature reserve and are home to deer and monkeys. There is a difficult 7-9 hour climb up the forested sides of the volcano.
Maderas Volcano – Also found on Ometepe Island, Maderas is located in Lake Nicaragua. It rises to 1394 meters above sea level and is usually clouded in thick mist. As a result, it has been claimed as a protected cloud forest reserve. Maderas is far more inactive than its twin Concepción and, as a result, enjoys more plant and animal diversity. It features two popular hikes – an easy two to six hour hike through farmland and cloud forest or a more grueling and mud-filled hike to the summit which takes approximately three to five hours. Maderas features a misty and cold crater lake which can only be enjoyed by trekking to the summit.
Masaya Volcano – Some would say that Masaya is the most accessible active volcano on the planet. The volcano owes this reputation to the paved road that runs to the summit of Santiago crater. It is located in a protected area known as the Masaya Volcano National Park. The park features more than seven cones and a crater lake. It is also home to a large number of crater dwelling parakeets who have chosen to make their homes in the toxic inner walls of the still smoking Santiago crater. Santiago last erupted in 2001.
Apoyo Volcano – The Apoyo Volcano is now considered to be dormant. It last erupted roughly 20 000 years ago and has since filled up with beautiful blue ocean water. The Apoyo Crater Lake is the biggest of the fourteen crater lakes to be found in Nicaragua. The crater's interior is a nature reserve that features over 145 species of birds, howler monkeys, white face monkeys and several rare fish species. The Apoyo Volcano is shared by the Masaya and Granada provinces.