Momotombo : The powerful volcano
Towering at 1,258 meters above sea level, Momotombo Volcano is one of the most popular volcanoes in Nicaragua. It is located near the colonial city León, facing Lake Managua.
Momotombo has existed for about 4,500 years, but only 14 eruptions were known since the Spanish conquerors started taking its outbreak records in the 16th century. One of its biggest, most destructive eruptions was in 1625 when Momotombo's violent activities threatened and buried the old city León (the then capital city of Nicaragua) and forced the people to move the city westward. The buried city was dug up open and now called León Viejo. Momotombo was last seen erupting in 1905 and it has been quiet just until recently when it started grumbling again in the year 2000.
Momotombo is a beautiful, perfect, almost symmetrical cone-like volcano. A hike to this proud beauty will have to start at the site of a geothermal plant, which produces one-third of Nicaragua's electrical power, as this plant reserves the right to issue the permit to access the mountain. It is located in the south slope of the volcano.
Being one of the highest volcanoes in Nicaragua, Momotombo is not that easy to climb. One has to have a fit healthy body as the journey will take up to 8 to 10 hours. A nightover at the mountain is normal, so get your camping equipment ready for it. At the very least, you will need warm and dry clothes, good hiking shoes, enough water and food, rain gear if you go in the rainy season, mosquito repellant, sunscreen and a hat to protect you from the harsh sunlight. You will also need an experienced guide to show you the way since the paths could be misleading and you could get lost. Tour operators in León will have packages ranging from US$ 45/60, depending on how big the group is. These will already cover the entrance fee, transportation and guide. But be prepared to have some tips for the guide, too, especially when he is a good one.
The hiking trip normally starts early, before the sun rises. First you will need to go to the meeting point at the geothermal plant, obtain a permit and set off for the first ascension. There are small paths to lead you in this period and you will get to an awesome viewpoint overlooking Lake Managua and Momotombo's miniature volcano, Momotombito. After some rest at this magnificent place, you continue your other half of the journey. This is going to be more challenging than the first one as you will need to get through a 45 angle path with loose footing. This is why exactly one has to be fit enough to go to the peak.
However, you will forget the entire rough journey once you get to the summit. The superb panorama beauty of Momotombito Island, Monte Galan Lagoon, Lake Managua and the rest of tropical forests will absolutely astound you. No wonder Nicaragua's most renowned poet, Ruben Darío, was so inspired by this mountain and awarded the volcano a great mention in his work of art.
If you too are inspired by the volcano and confident that you've got a healthy state to climb, a Momotombo hike will absolutely blow your senses away, just like it does to everyone else.