Reserva Natural Volcán Mombacho

Top choice nature reserve in Volcán Mombacho
Image by John Coletti / Getty Images

It’s been a few decades since this 1345m volcano, the defining feature of the Granada skyline, has acted up, but it is still most certainly active and sends up the periodic puff of smoke. It’s easy to get to the crown of cloud forest, steaming with fumaroles and other bubbling volcanic activity beneath the misty vines and orchids. Attractions include three hiking trails of varying difficulty, an organic coffee farm and more. Take a tour from Granada or drive yourself.

Reserva Natural Volcán Mombacho is managed by the Fundación Cocibolca, which since 1999 has been building trails and running an eco-mobile (think refurbished military jeeps seating 25) on the 40% grade up to 1100m. Get there early to take the short trail through the organic coffee farm, or check out the mariposario (butterfly garden) and orchid garden (free with entrance), close to the parking lot.

At the top you can find three species of monkey, 168 species of bird and more than 100 types of orchids as part of the jungle canopy that this park is intent on preserving. There is a choice of several trails, including Sendero del Cráter, a 1.5km jaunt to the fumaroles, plus great views of Granada and Las Isletas, and Sendero la Puma, a steeper 4km trek around the lip of the crater, with even better views. Guides, many of whom speak English, are available at the entrance and cost US$12 to US$22 per group of up to seven. Guides are required for a trek up Sendero el Tigrillo, a heart-pumping two-hour tromp up to two overlooks.

The park is open to the public with regular hours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. However, groups of 10 or more can make arrangements to visit on other days. Time your arrival to coincide with an eco-mobile departure, at 8:30am, 10am and 1pm.

If you have a 4WD, you can drive up the volcano for an extra US$22 – plus US$5 for every adult and US$3 for every child in the car.