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.
We have 2 related tour(s) available that can be booked online.
By: Asociacion de Guias Comunitarios de Altagracia
Ometepe Culture and Nature Tour
By: Unión de Guías de Ometepe
Daytripper wrote on Sep 17, 2012:
We needed like 8 hours with little stops in between and half an hour at the lake. It was fun hiking up and quiet challenging due to the heat at the foot of the volcano and later the muddy and slippery trail.
Wear good sneakers! If possible even hiking shoes - they help.
Guides are not only mandatory but also helpful in spotting monkeys, birds and explaining the flora and fauna.
Be prepared that you might arrive in clouds and see nothing on the top. We even had great fog down by the crater lake. We noticed that later around 2 or 3 pm the clouds disappear, but I wouldn't dare to hike down when it is dark (slippery, muddy and darkness - oh no…).
All in all really great tour, great forest, wonderful vegetation, challenging hike and really nice guide.
alysha wrote on May 2, 2010:
wear good sneakers
A visitor wrote on Jul 20, 2009:
We've been taking 16-18 students to Nicaragua for many years now and our hike up Maderas is one of the highlights. The hike is challenging and rewarding. We come back incredibly muddy, hungry, tired and HAPPY! We've loved our guides and our time at the Finca Magdalena. Happy hiking!
Just a note - there is a new pueblotel program in Balgue at the foot of Maderas. Ask about homestay opportunities in this wonderful little town and get to know some of the local families. They will host you and feed you and show you their town. We have all enjoyed our time with our friends in Balgue.
Carlos wrote on Jul 25, 2008:
Estuve en Ometepe en Noviembre 2007 para escalar Maderas y Concepcion dias consecutivos en la primera edicion de una caminata patrocinada por una empresa de telefonia.
Fue una experiencia unica escalar el Volcan Maderas: un ascenso de 3h en neblina rodeado de un mar de vegetacion exuberante, un frio chapuzon en la laguna del crater y un descenso de 2h con frecuentes caidas en el barro.
Fue una lastima que el ascenso al Volcan Concepcion del dia siguiente estuviera limitada a 800 de los 1600 msnm, debido a una expulsion de cenizas el dia anterior.
Tanner wrote on Jun 18, 2007:
I got all the way up to the waterfall by horseback and then went swimming in the lake at the top. I got some killer pictures of this and my Concepion hike.
Anthony & Irena wrote on May 19, 2007:
We left from the hotel Omaja side, which is the most difficult way up. Our guide hiked this trail over 100 times, and said the fastest he ever made it up was 3 hours. The previous commentator must have gone the Finca Magadalena route, which is shorter and less strenuous. It is a beautiful hike whichever route you take. We are in good physical shape, and it took us roughly 4 hours.
Chuck wrote on Apr 26, 2007:
It only takes 2.5 hours up and 2 hours down if you're in good physical shape. The wording in the article makes it sound like being shrouded in clouds is a bad thing. On the contrary, I found the cloud forest to be far more haunting and memorable than a clear and sunny top. Sure, you'll probably get chilly at the top after sitting around for 15 minutes. But don't take too much weight as you'll be ducking under trees and doing some heavy upward climbing and steep descending. I brought one Nalgene of water and found it sufficient (just drink a full Nalgene before you ascend in the morning!). The guides only speak Spanish but will go at your pace and make sure you make the right trail (there are few confusing off-shoots at the start).
Kristin Van Cauteren wrote on Nov 27, 2006:
We booked this trip by Villa Paraiso and paid 25 dollar/person, lunch and 1 L water included.Take at least 2 L water/person!This trip is unforgettable, because it's very hard.Especially the going down kills your muscles in your legs.Underway you see monkeys,butterfly's...The volano is full of life by animals.Up takes about 4 hours and the top is nothing special, surrounded by trees.The highlight is going down in the crater and see "the green lagoon".The ideal pick-nick place.After recovering you go up again for 10 minutes before descending.The going down is really difficult by the steepness and...the mud.Your clothes getting dirty everywhere.We reached finca Magdalena after 3,5 hours of descending, so the climb took about 7,5 hours.This hike ask a good condition, be prepared!But i will never forget to trip;
Bashardo Esquivielli wrote on Mar 21, 2006:
definitivamente un lugar magico
GJ wrote on Feb 3, 2006:
Definately an incredible experience. but VERY HARD. if you are not in perfect shape, try a partial hike just as far as the cloud forest. there are no switchbacks, just a straight upward climb, and many segments are mainly mud and rock, so wear shoes with good traction, blue jeans, a warm shirt for descent (you get wet, and then you get cold) and don't be afraid to get your hands muddy. otherwise, the climb is beautiful, and the cloud forest jaw-dropping. the guides are fantastic. bring lunch!
Maria wrote on Jan 13, 2006:
Be sure to wear good footwear and TAKE A GUIDE!! It will be the most adventurous hike of your life and well worth every step.