Despite being the smaller volcano on the island of Ometepe the Maderas still is a huge volcano, almost 1,400 meters high. Coffee plantations are located at the bottom part of the volcano. More uphill grows a cloud forest – a quality in the Pacific only shared by the Mombacho volcano. A high humidity and a dense forest are the result of this climate. Furthermore, there is a lagoon in the inactive crater of the volcano.
Ascending the volcano is only possible by foot. The trail starts off quite steep but in good condition. You will pass some petroglyphs and a nice lookout from where you can see the Concepción volcano and the lake. Hiking will get tougher from this point. The humidity transforms the trail into a muddy, slippery path. The more you ascend, the worse it gets. Sometimes you have to really climb instead of walk.
There are trees everywhere, so don’t expect great views. It is also often clouded which diminishes your view even more. A couple viewpoints are present, however, and from here you will have a splendid view of the Concepción volcano and Lake Nicaragua.
Hiking to the top will take about three and a half hours. From there, you can continue and descent to the lagoon. This will require some tough climbing. The lagoon itself is cold and often covered in mist. To stand at the edge of the lagoon that is surrounded by trees and covered by a mysterious curtain of mist when monkeys howl on the background is quite a special experience, though.
Then descending the volcano will take at least the same time as ascending. It always gets muddier later on the day, so you will be carefully and slowly managing your way down. The whole trip takes about eight hours. Be therefore sure to bring enough water and some food. Don’t wear anything new and expect to have mud anywhere on your clothes when you return. Decent hiking shoes help a lot. You should leave early in the morning in order to return before dusk. It is obligated to hire a guide. You can either join a group or get your own guide. At your hotel they will be able arrange this.
Tourists can get to this volcano from various sites. The road coming from Santo Domingo comes to a fork that goes to the towns of Balgüe (North) and Merida (South). Both roads will take you to different sides of the volcano.
Some areas of the volcano are occupied by private properties. In order to climb it, you should chose a good spot. You will find several routes either from Balgüe or Merida. You can also go to hotels and hostels located in the volcano.
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