Extreme Nicaragua: adventure among volcanoes
Land of lakes and volcanoes, Nicaragua is becoming a ecotourism destination par excellence. Its active volcanoes are one of the favourite sites for tourists, who come to swim in the lakes of its craters or try out sandboarding, a new adventure sport that consists of sliding down a slope on a board. Don’t miss the route we’ve prepared for you.
Preparing to climb the volcano
Leaving behind the city of Chinandega and the Finca de las Rojas – an organic coffee plantation which is the only place it’s possible to stay in the reserve – you begin to climb the smoking slope of the San Cristóbal volcano. At 1,745 m high, it is the country’s tallest volcano. The climb (for which you’ll need a good pair of boots, sunscreen and lots of water) runs along a trail that soon narrows to a path of fine sand. A steep, rocky slope covered with volcanic gravel leads to the most dangerous crater in Nicaragua.
For a very local experience, hikers can stock up with traditional foods such as freshly baked tortillas or curd before beginning to climb.
Overlooking the sea
New routes to the top have recently been cleared. They feature ouststanding panoramic views. You’ll find plenty of viewpoints along the various hiking trails. The most picturesque is towards the middle of the volcano’s southwest slope. It’s a wooden platform from which you can see the towns of Corinto, El Realejo, Chichigalpa, Posoltega and El Viejo. It also offers a perfect view of the Gulf of Fonseca, a hand-shaped bay also bordered by Honduras and El Salvador.
Local villager Arturo Cano organises excursions with his company TuRsE for these climbs
At 1,745 metres, you’ll feel like you’re on Mars
In the crater – where the landscape resembles the surface of the Red Planet – you can see the fire bubbling and breathe air filled with the smell of sulphur. This is one of the favourite places in Nicaragua for adventure lovers. It’s the youngest, but also the most active, of the five-volcano chain in the north of the country. Geologists are amazed by its almost perfect conical shape and tourists come to visit its tropical slope and to climb to the top.
Surfing the side of the volcano
The San Cristóbal-Casitas Natural Volcanic Reserve Complex is on the northernmost border of Nicaragua’s Belt of Fire, a curve-shaped barrier of 19 volcanoes that begins with the Cerro Negro volcano. Here, lovers of extreme sports slide down its slopes on boards, enjoying a new discipline known variously as ‘volcano boarding’ or ‘volcano surfing’.
You don’t need your own board to have a go. There are many tours available, such as the one by the El perezoso tourist agency, who will organise everything for you.
A stroll through the colonial city
Once you’ve returned from the volcano, take some time to pay a visit to the city of Granada, surrounded by Lake Nicaragua and Apoyo Lagoon with volcanoes as the backdrop. At noon, when the sun is at its peak, the deserted streets look like something out of the 18th century. The Colonial-style mansions and courtyards full of palm trees and hibiscus recall Andalusia, while the apricot and dusty rose tones of the Cathedral of Granada are dazzling at sunset.