Update: Aiden and I have toured Mombacho Volcano now three times and I feel just as strongly about how worthwhile this activity is for families as when I wrote this article in 2017. The prices and transport times listed below are current as of January 2018.
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Staying cool in the hottest months
When Semana Santa (otherwise known as Spring Break or Easter Vacation) hit Granada in April, I decided we needed a plan to give ourselves a rest from the constant heat. Ironically, this led us to visit a volcano. Mombacho Volcano Natural Reserve was a perfect solution for getting the family outside and recreating in breathtaking Nicaraguan nature without feeling the summer burn.
When you arrive to the top of Mombacho Volcano which has three craters, you will appreciate that you are now in a cool, breezy, cloud forest full of tropical canopy and exotic critters. It is like someone has suddenly turned on the air conditioning. This leads to a boost of physical productivity! Watch your kids take off down the trail….
We did this self-guided trek with our friends Martha and Sam (of Nicaragua Immersion Tours) and the boys did great at 10 and 11 years old hiking the very popular Crater 1, keeping up with us the whole 1 1/2 hours. This 1 kilometer trail is the most ideal for kids of all ages and if you are a parent trekking with a child in a carrier.
The trail entails hiking downhill and then uphill, but the path is very well-maintained with steady steps to set your feet. There are plenty of amazing lookout spots along the way to rest and break up the hike if little ones need to pause. Don’t miss seeing the vents of sulfuric steam coming out of the earth halfway through the journey (look for signs for las fumarolas) or the 180 degree panoramic view that shows off Masaya Volcano, Laguna de Apoyo, Granada, Las Islas and Lake Cocibolca amongst other iconic landscape features that let you know you are definitely in the land of lakes and volcanoes.
Check out more fun on the Mombacho trail in this quick video.
Definitely bring lots of water and a lunch: there are plenty of benches along the way where you can stage a picnic. Also know that there are some snacks and drinks sold at the bottom and at the top of the reserve if you need to top-up on supplies (including at Café Las Flores located midway up the volcano where you can indulge yourself in a decadent mochaccino sourced with nearby coffee).
Take the Reserve’s public transport up the volcano to where the trails start. It’s expensive to bring your own vehicle up to the top and you really need four-wheel drive and some knowledge of that particular road to do it confidently (it is a one lane construction). The journey up and down the mountain can take around 30 minutes with fantastic views of distant lands as you wind higher and higher up Mombacho. Do check out the local coffee plantations that are planted right up to the road; if you have never seen ‘black gold’ growing on the bush, it’s quite a moment for all the coffee lovers to finally see the source of all that java goodness.
Entry fees with public transport are a little steep for visitors without a residency card ($20 for adults, $10 for kids) but get much better once you get your residency ($8 for adults and $4 for kids). There are additional fees for each trail, guide services, and if you want to bring in your own 4 x 4 vehicle.
Find more info at: Mombacho Volcano Natural Reserve!