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Ometepe is an adventurer’s playground! Before you go, there are important things you need to know. Troy and I have the worst luck when it comes to volcano climbing and we were hopeful the nicaraguan volcanoes would be good to us! For any kind of physical challenge we endure, we expect a reward and a payoff. For a hike or climb, it’s getting to the top, to arrive to see a “worth the effort” stellar view. That feeling when you say, “Yeah! we made it!” It’s the sign of a perfect arrival. We have done many volcano hikes in Indonesia and South and Central America, and sadly we managed to pick the day with cloud-covered skies. It’s such a letdown. Climbing the Ometepe volcanoes was our next quest.
Besides all the other interesting activities to do on the island, the two volcanoes on Ometepe Island have taunted us for weeks. Those volcanoes were teasing us with their clear skies at the top, then clouding over throughout the day. We were waiting for the right day, the right moment to experience the ultimate: a clear view of the island and the lake. With their grand presence, they stared at us on opposing sides of the island from almost every angle. Whether we were walking, biking or doing anything at all, they were in our view, reminding us that tomorrow morning could be the hiking day.
Volcan Concepción – Is one of the active volcanoes in Nicaragua. It stands 1610m in height and is Nicaragua’s second highest volcano. It has a strong almost eerie presence, and it is hard not to be mesmerized by its authority. The last eruption was in 2010, which resulted in just ash clouds. The climb is straight up – the first half is forest then the other half turns into a mostly rocky, with ash and scree. The hike takes about 3.5-4 hours up and 2- 2.5 hours down. Cost: Approx. $25 per person (hiring a guide is mandatory) + $1 Trail fee
Volcan Maderas – The non- active volcano, believed to have erupted over a thousand years ago stands 1394 m tall. This is a completely different hike from Concepción, as it’s a lush, green canopy of rainforest the entire way up, with sounds of howler monkeys, cicadas, and birds. Once we were an hour from the top, the sky blankets into a thick cloud forest. It is muddy, slippery, with narrow rocky pathways and in our view a more challenging hike with its rocky, maneuvering. (Especially in the rainy season) Once we reached the top, there is a 15-minute challenging Indiana Jones-style rope climb and hike down to the crater to see the huge lagoon encircled entirely by the rainforest. Be prepared to get dirty! The hike takes about 3.5-4 hours up and about 3.5-4 hours down.
This of course, is really up to you. We would recommend you do both, however your time may be limited. We do admit there is nothing like climbing an active volcano, so if you haven’t, we would recommend Volcano Concepcion. However, the views of the island are truly the most spectacular when you climb Volcano Maderas.
Why get disappointed with cloudy skies? We can’t predict the weather, and we certainly can’t predict the right moment. Hiking shouldn’t result in frustration at the top, it should be about the accomplishment. So we decided to focus on the view from the bottom and the challenge of the climb. Looking up at the volcanoes knowing you made it to the top is better than any photo but you can’t blame us for trying!
Looking to plan your trip to Ometepe? You can find it all here.
Plan on visiting other areas of Nicaragua? Here is our library of Nicaragua posts here.
Troy is an ex-TV editor and producer originally from Canada. He quit his 20+ year career to pursue a life of long-term, slow and transformative travel. Now with his wife Dorene, he helps people who want to redefine their midlife by making conscious changes at TravelLifeExperiences. He also works with travel and hospitality brands to create and share their video stories at TravelLifeMedia.com