When my husband and I traveled to Nicaragua, we didn’t have any hard and fast plans. We spent our first week in a rental home called Casa Del Sol overlooking Laguna Masaya, near the city of Granada. It was gorgeous, and came with a 24-hour onsite caretaker and awesome housekeeper/cook. But as beautiful as the property was, we still went out exploring every day. Our best day by far was the one we visited Reserva Natural Volcan Mombacho, which translates to the Mombacho Volcano Natural Reserve.
Reserva Natural Volcan Mombacho
At the time we visited the reserve, the entry fee was $28 US per vehicle, or $5 US per person. We opted to pay the extra for our vehicle, because it was not immediately evident how visitors on foot made it to the top. (I have since learned that they walked!) The drive up was an adventure in and of itself. There is no way we could have made it without a 4 x 4 vehicle, which we kept in low gear the entire distance.
El Crater Trail on Volcan Mombacho
Once at the top we hiked the El Crater Trail – a moderate 1.7 km well-groomed trail through the forest. The first 15 minutes or so was all downhill, and I seriously began to worry about my ability to climb back up at the end. The humidity was brutal, and although the hike was short it was not a walk in the park.
El Tigrillo Trail and El Puma Trail on Volcan Mombacho
For those who are more adventurous and in better physical shape there are two additional trails that are rated difficult. To hike the El Puma Trail you must have a guide as the descent/ascent is an incredibly steep 45 degrees for about two miles. It takes you into the dwarf forest of Volcan Mombacho and provides gorgeous views of Lake Nicaragua. There are also numerous fissures emitting steam along the way to remind you that below all this natural beauty lays an active volcano.
My husband, being the endearing renegade he is, hiked part of the El Puma Trail on his own (without a guide). I sat on a nearby bench and waited for his return. He came back about 45 minutes later smiling from ear to ear and insisting it was one of the most beautiful hikes he had ever taken. Maybe next time I’ll have the audacity to join him!