Ometepe Island had a lot to offer anyone who ventures to discover all her beauties. But one of the most pronounced features, and the first visible from the mainland is Volcán Concepción.
Volcán Concepción towers over the lesser pronounced Volcán Maderas, and it ever changing clouds and lighting make it extremely photogenic, and even those of us who have lived here for a while, still can’t stop looking at her! The frequent landslides make deep and distinct feature changes every year during the rainy season, adding to its beauty.
Originally called Omeyatecigua (“two women” in Nahuatl), Volcán Concepción is an active volcano, although it is mild compared to her sisters in the surrounding area. Known for its sulfur gas and ash eruptions that happen every few years, and its more frequent, yet mild, tremors. To climb it is still a bucket list item for many who come to Ometepe Island.
Momotombo and Concepción volcanoes are the only perfect cones among the Nicaraguan volcanoes. Concepción is 1610 meters (5232 feet) high, and growing. Only San Cristobal volcano stands taller. Currently this Ometepe Island volcano is active, with smoke coming from its crater. Fumaroles can be seen on its sides. Its eruptions, though quite frequent, are not violent. Volcanic ash has fallen on the towns on the West side of the volcano and beyond the lake in Rivas. There was a major eruption in 1957 and two smaller eruptions in 2006 and 2007, but they did not cause any damage.
There are multiple trails the wind up, and around the tropical forest that surrounds its ash covered peak. A guide is suggested because of the many various trail options through the forest. Expect to pay $15/per person or less ($30 minimum for the guide). The main trail can take you 9 to 11 hours round trip, but some guides take an alternate route that is as short as 6 hours. Either way, take no less than 2 liters of water per person, pack a lunch, wear the right clothes and have a blast!
The upper section of vegetation on the volcano is a wet subtropical forest. Until a year ago, the entrance for climbing the volcano was a path located in La Sabana, but recently a new path was opened. The “El Floral” trail entrance, located in the community of Concepción, has a control booth, and a restroom. The trail has a safe house, 160 steps, 50 meters (165 feet) of railings, benches, and three rest areas. Information signs have been placed to allow self-guided hikes.
During the climb you can spot many species of birds, a variety of trees, troops of howler and white-faced Capuchin monkeys, reptiles and amphibians. You also will find magnificent panoramic views of the entire island, Lake Nicaragua (Lake Cocibolca) and the mainland.
For those less enthusiastic about crawling up loose rock, ash, and scree covered steep banks to the rim, there is the option of hiking or walking to the La Flor Lookout at 1000 meters (3,250 feet). For a nice picnic lunch and some stunning pictures!
The soil around Volcán Concepción is very fertile and the locals grow tobacco, plantains, bananas, and other fruits and grains. Gasses do escape from the crater, which combine with the surrounding moisture to form an acid mist that prevents the localized development of all vegetation near the summit.