What to Expect When Hiking Volcán Concepción

Volcán Concepción- (Nicaragua’s Third Tallest Volcano)

  • Extreme Adventure – 1,610 meters (5,280 feet)
  • Duration: > 6 hrs return
  • Distance: 6.5 kilometers round-trip (over 4 miles)

Pricing: Our Tour included our knowledgeable guide, $3USD entry fee to the National Park and 2 walking sticks.


Volcán Concepción is a steep and perfectly conical volcano and is one of the most active in Nicaragua. How many people can say they have summited an active volcano? We wanted to be part of this group.

When we first arrived in Ometepe, Kurt and I were hearing MANY stories, mostly horror such as getting lost, super slippery and dangerous surfaces, and taking 10+ hours without reaching the top. This was concerning for Kurt. Me? I generally jump headfirst and don’t worry about the risks. A difficult hike you say? Active volcano you say? I’m in!

With Kurt being cautious and me being care free, we generally make things happen with some well thought out precautions. After a long talk of “Marlena, are you worried about the dangers or getting lost?” and “Babe, if we feel it is unsafe we will turn back” (me knowing darn well I will most definitely push it to the limit..hehe) we agreed to HIKE THIS FEROCIOUS BEAST with a group tour. Which by the way Kurt told me he was so happy I didn’t back down in convincing him.

The time is 6:50 A.M., we have arrived at the entrance of Volcán Concepción.

As you can see there are 3 different walking trails posted, we have “Interpretativo”(Interpretive), “Aventura” (Adventure) and “Aventura Extrema” (Extreme Adventure). We started our trail from the La Flor (the flower) route. This is the route that was recommended by our tour guides and it is supposedly one of the most popular ones, so we went along with it.

The trail was very rocky, which made for a challenging trek. The initial hike led us through farmland and into a jungle, almost entirely shaded. A little over two hours later, just when you’re getting (reasonably) comfortable it turns into nothing but rocks, debris and scree. All on an incline, might I add.

For the last, I would say, about an hour and a half it is a struggle. Why do you ask?

·     Keeping your footing in the volcanic scree (impossible not to slip)

·     Keeping a lookout for loose rocks being kicked out from under your fellow hikers above you. “HEADS UP!” is a phrase heard many times..sorry honey 😉

·     The exposed trail up to the summit is extremely steep and exposed to stiff cold winds hammering you down.

It was essentially a scramble to the top, but the walking sticks helped us tremendously. Often it is a stop-and-go hike as the gusty winds will knock you on your behind as you are on the steep side of this volcano. Pretty sure it’s Volcán Concepción’s way of reminding you who’s boss here.

While there was some pretty thick loud coverage a majority of the way toward summit, the clouds would dissipate for some brief moments. It is at this time that, looking back, you are presented with some wonderful glimpses of Lake Nicaragua and the entire trail that got you into this (glorified) mess.

About 4 hours into the hike, we made it to the summit of Volcán Concepción! Once you reach the rim, you will be in the clouds and feel the the hot sulfuric air coming from the vents of the crater grazing your face.

Looking into the caldera of Volcán Concepción

It is so windy up there you can barely stand upright. You can sit on the edge of the crater, but you will likely not be able to see in. In general, few have been lucky enough to see much of the caldera but the sheer excitement of what lies below you will send shivers down your spine.

WE ALL MADE IT! With our daring group members for the hike. We didn’t see anyone else on the trail the entire day so we think we were the only one’s to reach summit.

After spending some time celebrating at summit, we decided to began our descent. The descent was almost as arduous as the ascent as your feet are constantly coming out from under you. The steep decline and loose gravel provided minimal traction. We were however still able to capture some nice shots –

Look at this tough guy scaling the volcano

Flora endemic to Volcán Concepción

Volcanic rock and trees on this steep slope

To make the descent even more tricky, a fellow climber in our group hurt his knee so badly he couldn’t straighten it. So we had to walk down ever-so-slowly. He trudged along for over an hour and finally decided he couldn’t go further. So, a group of 5 of us (without our knowledgeable guide) made the journey back down into the jungle retracing our footsteps, of course stopping to enjoy what we didn’t get to see on the ascent.

Eventually, we met up with a guide from the same trekking company further down the jungle path. He proceeded to take us further down to a pick-up point where a sporty open-top jeep brought us the rest of the way. This made for a wild ride.

We were blasting through bushes and tree branches in the dense jungle. Never mind the occasional branch slapping you across the face, which was not appreciated. Nonetheless, we were just excited to be done hiking and proud to say we were two of ten people who made it to the top that day.

Disclaimer

BE AWARE: You are climbing an active volcano that could erupt. Additionally, do not attempt unless you are somewhat fit, have proper hiking attire, and a guide (or are comfortable with mountaineering). Just because we did it does not make it suitable for all individuals. Take precautions and know your limits.

Side note: After summiting many peaks of volcanoes and mountains only to be met with clouds and limited visibility, I got so frustrated that I came up with a great invention idea – A cloud vacuum. This cloud vacuum would be a portable vacuum strong enough to suck up the sucky clouds that block amazing views at summits. Somebody; make it happen!

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