Volcano Trekking in Nicaragua
This post is a continuation of my previous post about Volcano boarding. I had participated in a two day trek with Quetzaltrekkers, which started with volcano boarding-definitely a must-do for any adrenaline junkie who finds themselves in Nicaragua. When I heard it was possible to climb and camp on a volcano, I knew it was something I couldn’t pass up.
Volcano boarding finished up around late morning. Only myself and two others would continue onto the trek, as well as our two guides, Rich and Ben, both British guys. I luckily had an opportunity to clean my face and arms, as they had gotten quite dirty as a result of the volcanic ash. After a quick snack, we headed off on the trek.
Although I have done quite a bit of hiking, other than climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and hiking in the Himalayas, I had only done day hikes. For Mount Kilimanjaro, we had porters carry most of our camping supplies and I had stayed in huts for the Himalayas hike. For this hike, we were responsible for carrying everything we would need, including tents, sleeping bags, food, and plenty of water. This was definitely going to be a challenge for me to carry roughly 15 kilograms uphill.
The first hour or so we were against a steep incline. I felt like I was using a ton of energy to push myself up the hill, sweating profusely in the humid Nicaraguan heat. Luckily, this was the most arduous part of the climb, and the path leveled off a bit after this section.
About two hours of hiking later, we arrived at our campsite. Rich and Ben were pleased at our good time. As myself and the couple from California (Dean and Caitlyn), were all in relatively good shape, there was no one who lagged behind. We heaved off our packs and got the camp set up. As El Hoyo is covered in grass, there were a few dozen cows grazing. Rich and Ben said that the farmers would leave them up there to graze and only check on them periodically.
I couldn’t believe how amazing the views were from our campsite! It was at the base of El Hoyo’s crater (aptly “the hole” in Spanish). The crater was like anything I’d ever seen before, so surreal. It looked like a giant asteroid or something had burrowed a hole in the ground, instead of a volcanic eruption. Definitely one of the coolest places I’d every camped!
Due to the clear sky, we could see the line of volcanoes in the distance, starting with Motombo and Motombito rising out of Lake Nicaragua. From the other direction we could see Volcano Ascensor and its crater lake, where we would be heading in the morning. As the sunset neared, we hiked the remaining 100 meters or so to the top of El Hoyo after exploring some if its vents and giant crater up close. I have to admit that the crater was not as impressive up close as it was from afar. We also came across three dead cows, all belly up and bloated with their legs stuck up straight in the air. Apparently they were struck by lightning during the vicious storm that occured two nights ago. I was thankful I was not up there during that time!
The sunset was spectacular, we could see for 360 degrees from the sunset. We could see the colors spreading all over the sky. One of the better ones I’ve seen, if solely for the awesome vantage point that we had.
It was pretty dark as we headed down to our campsite, but we managed to make it down unscathed. Dinner was a simple pasta and veggie medley, but good nonetheless. We went to bed pretty early around 9pm, as we planned to wake up for the sunrise the following morning.
Unfortunately it was too cloudy in the morning to see much of the sunrise. After an oatmeal breakfast, we packed up camp and head for the crater lake in the Volcano Ascensor. My pack was a bit lighter due to all of the food and water we had consumed thus far-thank goodness!
After a steep descent we walked through forested areas for the next few hours until we reached the beautiful crater lake. From the lake we could see El Hoyo’s crater in the distance, showing just how far we had hiked that morning. The lake was extremely refreshing and soothed my sore back and legs. We relaxed here and on the banks and enjoyed some veggie burritos for lunch.
Feeling refreshed, we then made the short but tough hike out of the crater and out onto level ground. Normally we’d have to take two local buses back to Leon, but since there happened to be no volcano boarding that day, Ben and Rich arranged for the Quetzaltrekkers truck to pick us up!
Overall, I have nothing but good things to say about volcano trekking with Quetzaltrekkers. I enjoyed our small group, and we were blessed with great weather, as this is Nicaragua’s rainy season. The scenery was beautiful and varied. Ben and Rich (and the other Quetzaltrekkers staff), were very friendly and professional. Plus, all of the profits go to a good cause! So go ahead and arrange a hike with them if you ever find yourself in Leon!