As a country steeped in nature and wilderness, Nicaragua is most famed for its multitude of lakes and volcanoes. I wasn’t aware of how prominent these two features would be until my recent visit. While in Nicaragua, I had the opportunity to see with my own eyes, the features that characterize this country as so.
Lake Nicaragua is Central America’s largest lake and the world’s 19th largest lake. There is a vast diversity of birds and wildlife, and there are said to be over 365 islands on the lake; some of which are uninhabited. A good way to see Lake Nicaragua is to go kayaking — you’ll be able to experience wildlife in its natural habitat and the small island community while enjoying the serene energy of the lake.
A cormorant resting on a branch on the lake
Those living on the lake use row boats as transportation
A local community
After staying at Jicaro Island Ecolodge, I got accustomed to seeing one of the most famous volcanoes in Nicaragua. It reaches to over 4,400 feet in height and is considered an active volcano, though the last known eruption occurred over 440 years ago in 1570. Though I did not hike the volcano myself, Mombacho has a couple hiking trails and has a cloud forest near the top of the volcano.
A view of Mombacho Volcano from Lake Nicaragua
A view of Mombacho from above the trees near sun down
Masaya Volcano (Santiago Crater)
One of the first national parks to be protected in Nicaragua, the Santiago Crater rests within the Masaya Volcano National park (which also houses the Masaya Volcano). It is one of the easiest volcanoes to access, and there is a museum for visitors to learn about volcanoes, geology, history, and even the wildlife that surrounds the volcano. Created a little over 150 years ago, it’s possible to see green parakeets fly through the cloud of sulfur into the crater — the green parakeets make their living inside the crater. I was not able to see the crater at night, though our guide, Alex, told us it’s possible to see the red glow from below.
Welcome to the Masaya Volcano National Park
Hardened lave from 1772 in the Volcanic Rock Valley
An ecological museum inside the park that touches on various subjects such as history, ecology, and geology
The Santiago Crater filled with sulfur
A view of the layers inside the crater after the wind blew sulfur in the other direction
Apoyo Lagoon was first a crater created from a volcanic eruption about 23,000 years ago, which over time, began to fill with water to bring us to the present day Apoyo Lagoon. The picture below shows the closest point I was able to get to the Apoyo Lagoon, but the amazing view makes up for it. It is possible to go down closer to the lake, where you can see the beaches, go swimming, and participate in a multitude of activities.
A shot of Apoyo Lagoon in the afternoon
I also did not have the chance to visit Concepción volcano during my stay in Nicaragua this time, though I was able to see it almost all the time! Concepción, along with Maderas, both stratovolcanoes, are what make up the popular Ometepe Island in Lake Nicaragua. Concepción has had multiple eruptions within the past years, with the latest being a little over three years ago in 2010; this volcano is considered active.
A far away view of La Concepción–can you see it?
A far away “close-up” view of La Concepción
Disclaimer: This trip was made possible by Jicaro Island Ecolodge, but all opinions expressed are our own.