Hiking on Ometepe island

Summitting the Volcanoes

Maderas Volcano past the rice fields, on the border of the Magdalena cooperative property, Selvista Guesthouses

A local guide is required to summit either Maderas or Conception. The trails drift off and it is easy to get lost up there. Tourism is also a major part of the economy, especially somewhere like Ometepe, so paying a local guide know knows the area and the wildlife well is a great way to give back to this community that hosts us here. Our recommended guides are friendly, knowledgable and bi-lingual. They can be arranged the night before a hike.

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Maderas - the dormant one - 1394 mts

Volcano Maderas Crater Lagoon by Roland Lopez 2018

Selvista is based at the foot of Maderas volcano, so you can set off right after breakfast from the kitchen if you like; take fresh fruit and a lunch prepared the night before.

The hike takes around 8 hours (on average), so leave by 8am to be back for around 4pm. You’ll pass through the Finca Magdalena, a historic institute on the island, past petroglyphs, through rain forest and through the tropical forest finally to emerge at the crater lagoon up top. Our guides include train entry fees paid here.

There’s a chance of seeing rare parrots, monkeys (howlers and the white-faced capuchins), all sorts of cool insects like the chirping cicadas and maybe some reptiles if you’re lucky. Not to mention the plant varieties!

Volcano Maderas, rainforest, cloud forest. muddy fun!

Remember it’s a lush forest that has been growing for many years in the crater of a dormant volcano; it’s a rugged terrain that is often wet and therefore muddy and slippery.

This is a unique hike thats not for the feint-hearted but easily achievable with some determination for a person of reasonable fitness and physical ability.

Conception - the active one - 1610 mts

‘The big one’- this is the perfectly formed strata-volcano that the houses here face.

volcano conception seen from Selvista Guesthouses, Experience Ometepe

To hike this you must set off a little earlier. Take the first bus at 5.20am or organise private transport the night before. The hike itself takes around 8 hours. Prepare food and water accordingly the day before.

Hiking Volcano Conception, unique flora at the top, 2018

The terrain is rocky and exposed, with beautiful moor-like patches and wild flowers from the contant moisture of the clouds up there.

Being active still, it doesn’t have growth all the way up like Maderas, so is exposed to the elements more. This means that you can get the best views of the island from up there.

TIP: Take something to change into at the top- a dry t-shirt can be a blessing. Through sweat, rain or cloud or all three the one you wore up will likely be wet.

Layered clothing and closed shoes with good grip are recommended - take something warm in case its windy up there and dry-bags for anything not water-proof. We have ziplocks if you need to borrow one!

It is recommended to take at least three liters of water up there with you and plenty of snacks for a full day’s hike. You can cook food here and borrow our tupperware, or order from a restaurant and store your lunch in the fridge ready to go the next day.

View of Isla Ometepe from Conception Volcano, by Rolando Lopez

The views of the island at a clear time are spectacular!

To loosen up the muscles after, check out the in-house massage:

Local Trails

There are many hiking options in the area, including easier, shorter or closer hikes.

1300 mt flat trails in Santa Domingo (Penas Incultas) boasting some beautiful, old trees and often white faced capuchin monkeys

white-faced capuchin monkey, maderas volcano, guided hikes, Selvista Guesthouses

Charco Verde and finca Magdalena

The trails around Charco Verde, the lagoon wrapped in local legend, are easy-going and good for kids and those just looking to relax and enjoy the views.

The trails around our own property here at the base of Maderas are surrounded by petroglyphs and the transition to rainforest. Follow the farming routes around the Magdalena Co-operative and to Las Cuchillas.

Finca Magdalena entrance, hiking trails, coffee plantations, petroglyphs Isla Ometepe

San Ramon waterfall

Hiking San Ramon is no easy feat either… don’t underestimate the shorter trail (it’s still half way up the side of a volcano!) although no guide is necessary for this trip.

Make your way to San Ramon - on the opposite side of Volcano Maderas to where we are based here at Selvista. We would recommend a taxi, bicycle 4x4 or dirtbike (experience necessary). Scooters are great for paved roads, but the last stretch between Merida and San Ramon is pretty uneven and the mo-peds are not designed for that terrain. It’s do-able but inadvisable.

It’s very well signposted… you can’t miss it! The entry fee at the base is around $3 p/p. The hike is beautiful at any time of year, although the heaviest flow is obviously towards the end of the rainy season. You can dip under the fall, but there’s never really space for ‘swimming’.

The hike takes around 3-4 hours round-trip from the base at the main road. Quad bikes or dirtbikes can make their way up to a higher car-park and cut the hiking time down to around 1.5hours in total.

Manned parking is available at the base.

You must arrive by 2pm to be able to commence the hike- the staff will not let you start the trip much later as we experience the sunset here around 6pm year-round. You don’t want to be stuck up there after dark.

Take snacks, water, a camera, a waterproof bag and sturdy shoes. Have fun!

ABOVE: Our guest and videographer Brad Fenton and favorite guide, Junior tackling Conception in early 2019. Are you up for the challange?

Reserve your accommodation for a comfy night’s sleep before and after your hiking adventures. Selvista is a great base for any of the local hikes and trails.

See other suggestions of Ometepe Island’s top things to do below. There’s something for everyone! Take a look at our favorite Ometepe activities and tours.