Expeditions, Navigation, Guided Walks and Trekking
After our “death defying” volcano boarding (it wasn’t really), and a night in the hammocks for some of the team, including the truly death-defying double-decker hammock, it was volcano number 4, El Hoyo. This was to be a there and back walk up to an enormous hole – known as a fumarole. A fairly easy walk up the side of the crater overlooking Cerro Negro, then around a few dormant peaks to El Hoyo. We had a great view across to our final Volcano, Momotombo and Lago Managua. Our logica route would have continued from there onto the final volcano, but it did look like private land blocked the way. So we had to return to the ranger station and drive around. Back at the Ranger Station after a easy 5 hour walk , we packed tents and hammocks and made lunch. The two members of our team who had a hospital visit finally returned, fit and raring to go. Next we had a drive back to Leon ring road around to Momotombo Natural Reserve. This is only accessed through large security gates and signing in with 2 grumpy security guards. A helpful 4×4 took much of our gear to the camping spot 500m up the crater cone in the natural jungle. Finding ground for the tents meant avoiding the “Bastard Plants” so-called because if you touched one you shouted out “B…….D”.
Volcan Momotombo has a perfect cone, which last erupted in 1906 but continues to rumble with seismic activity. Back in 1609 it destroyed of the old town of Leon and now provides inspiration for poets as well as being a symbol of Nicaragua. It rises red and black above Lago de Managua and is the countries most beautiful threat. Climbing it takes a full and hard day, most people just get to a shoulder high up on the cone, but still 200m below the crater.
Our plan was to be on the shoulder of Momotombo to catch the sunrise so we had to be up early enough to give us all time to get up the final steep slopes. Our group had a wide range of fitness so to be sure we had an alpine 3 am start in the dark. One of the girls returned to her tent after bravely trying to set off, but after being sick during the night decided to give it a miss. Off we set, torches finding the way through the black jungle. After an hour we broke through the trees onto the scree of the volcano cone. This was at times ankle-deep and very slippery, trekking poles made the work easier but it still was hard work. Light started to appear in the sky after a couple of hours climbing and just as we arrived at the shoulder the sun rose over the lake, great timing. Its soft orange glow started to warm us even as a wicked wind picked up as it got lighter. There below us was Lago Managua, the old town of Leon Viejo and Momotombito on its own island a smaller version of the big cone we were on.
It was a lot easier coming down, a fun scree run to the edge of the jungle. Elated but shattered after the hard climb and early start we arrived back at camp by 7 am to pack up and load the gear onto the 4×4 for our next adventure – a few days beside the surf of the Pacific.
This had been a fun 5 days, mixing challenging climbs up volcano cones, quick and very quick descents, struggling with the jungle and fabulous views.