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Best Hiking Trails in Nicaragua

Overview

Nicaragua is known as the land of lakes and volcanoes, and there are plenty to explore in this Central American country.  Nicaragua has 19 active volcanoes, many of which can be hiked, as well as other mountain ranges with hiking trails.  The most popular areas are the volcanoes in the Maribios chain, such as San Cristobal (tallest volcano in Nicaragua), Cerro Negro (very popular for volcano boarding), and Volcan Telica; the Isla de Ometepe which contains the twin volcanic peaks of Concepcion and Maderas; around Matagalpa and Esteli.  The best time to hike in Nicaragua is in the dry season, from November to April.  Read on for more information on where and when to hike in Nicaragua.

Capital: Managua

When To Hike in Nicaragua?

Nov – Apr: dry season

May – Oct: wet season

Climate: Tropical – hot all year round; equatorial on the east (Caribbean side) which receives significantly more rainfall; temperatures stable throughout the year

 

Nicaragua Monthly Weather

Accessibility of Hiking

Medium: While there are established trails, best to go with guide for most hikes

Transportation required: Car to get to most hikes

Where to stay in Nicaragua:

  • Esteli
  • Dipilito
  • San Rafael del Norte
  • Jinotega
  • Matagalpa
  • Leon; Telica

Most popular hikes in Nicaragua

The two main areas for hiking in Nicaragua are the Western (Pacific) side of the country, where the majority of the volcanoes can be found; and the Northcentral area where there are mountains that can be hiked. It is difficult to find any literature on hiking in Nicaragua but most of the posts one will find on the internet focus on the volcano hikes and not on the northcentral mountains. Highest Mountain: Cerro Mogotón (2085 m).

Filter out hiking places of Nicaragua by month

Click on the red map pointers to see more info.

Northcentral Nicaragua

  • November – March
  • Many of these mountain areas are littered with coffee plantation, possible to hike in:
  • Around Esteli, one of the major towns in this region
    • Área Protegida Miraflor, 20 km of trail, cloud forest, Cebollal is a good tourist base
    • Two big tour operators for above, UCA Miraflor (Unión de Cooperativas Agropecuarias de Miraflor), www.ucamiraflor.com; Tree Huggers
    • Área Protegida Cerro Tisey-Estanzuela 
  • Around Ocotal
  • Around Dipilto – beautiful setting, lots of hiking
  • Cerro Mogotón 
  • Around Jalapa; Cerro de Jesús
  • Around San Rafael del Norte – one of the highest towns in Nicaragua, great jumping off point for hike
    • Reserva Natural Vulcan Yali
  • Around Jinotega – ‘city of mists’, gets a ton of rainfall and is quite cool
    • Cerro la Cruz
    • Reserva Natural Cerro Datanlí-El Diablo – has great network of trails
  • Around Matagalpa – great base for hiking
    • Reserva Natural Cerro Apante – Matagalpa’s most popular hiking trail
    • Reserva Natural Cerro Musún

Isla de Ometepe

  • Dec – Apr
  • Twin volcanic peaks: Volcan Concepcion (active and potentially dangerous) & Volcan Maderas – hikes can be long and tough, need to have a guide
  •  Also lots of petroglyphs on this island

Around Managua

  • Dec – Apr
  • Parque Nacional Volcán Masaya – largest national park in Nicaragua; several marked hiking trails, low altitude, require a guide
  • Reserva Natural El Chocoyero y El Brujo

Around Granada

  • Reserva Natural Volcán Mombacho – there are several trails on this active volcano 
  • Parque Nacional Archipeliélago Zapatera – www.zapatera.blogspot.com 
  • Isla Zapatera

Maribios Chain

  • This chain of volcanoes along the Pacific side have some of the best hiking in Nicaragua.  The main ones are:
  • Volcan Chonco
  • Reserva Natural San Cristóbal-La Casita – home to tallest volcano in Nicaragua (San Cristóbal) and climbable
  • Volcan Casita 
  • Volcan Telica  
  • Volcan Santa Clara 
  • Volcan Rota
  • Cerro Negro
  • Cerro del Hoyo 
  • Volcan Momotombo

Reserva Natural Volcan Cosigüina

  • Dec – Apr
  • This reserve sits at the tip of land jutting out into Gulf of Fonseca, contains a volcano that used to be the tallest in Central America until an eruption in 1865 blew the top off

Long Distance Trails of Nicaragua

Nicaragua's Walking & Hiking Resources

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Nicaragua Hiking Books: No hiking specific books

  • Lonely Planet Nicaragua, by Anna Kaminski, Bridget Gleeson and Tom Masters, 2019, Lonely Planet Global Limited – good source for hiking guides – https://amzn.to/3TfdnNw
  • Journey Through Nicaragua: Your Essential Guide to Top Attractions, Local Customs, and Must-See Activities for the Trip of a Lifetime, by Elena Carina Mendoza, 2023 – https://amzn.to/49Sf0HX

 

Nicaragua Hiking Associations/Clubs:

 

Best Hiking Trails in Nicaragua:

  • Cerro Negro
  • Concepcion Volcano
  • Maderas Volcano
  • El Hoyo
  • Cosiguina Volcano
  • Telica
  • San Cristobal
  • Cerro Apante
  • Miraflor National Park trails

Easy Hiking Trails in Nicaragua:

  • Masaya Volcano hike – sunset hike to see the lava flow
  • Somoto Canyon
  • San Ramon Waterfall
  • Old Lighthouse Trail (San Juan del Sur)

 

Nicaragua Hiking Websites:

 

Nicaragua Weather Website: 

  • Instituto Nicaragüense de Estudios Territoriales – INETER 

 

Nicaragua Official Tourism Site:  

 

Nicaragua Hiking Apps: 

 

Nicaragua Hiking Maps: 

What Else To Do

  • Visiting coffee plantations
  • Beaches/Islands
  • Volcano boarding
  • Diving/surfing/other water sports
  • Cigars
  • Birdwatching

Other Important Points

  • English may not be spoken by most people, useful to learn some basic Spanish