The perfect cone of Volcán Momotombo, destroyer of León Viejo and inspiration for its own Rubén Darío poem, rises red and black 1280m above Lago de Managua. It is a symbol of Nicaragua, the country’s most beautiful threat, and has furnished at its base itself in miniature – the island of Isla Momotombito (389m), sometimes called ‘The Child.’ Most people come to climb Momotombo, a serious eight to 10-hour round-trip. Guided treks make access easier from the power plant at the trailhead.
There are several other structures worth seeing in the reserve, including the 4km-diameter, 200m-deep Caldera Monte Galán, tiled with five little lagoons (alligators included) that reflect the theoretically extinct Cerro Montoso (500m), but you’d need to arrange a custom tour to see them.
Isla Momotombito is accessible from Puerto Momotombo, just around the corner from the ruins of León Viejo, and Mateare, both on the shores of Lago de Managua. The basaltic cone has long been a ceremonial site, and a few petroglyphs and statues are still visible on it. If you're coming from Puerto Momotombo, ask about private boat transportation. Boat operators hang around the handful of lakeshore restaurants, which all serve beer and traditional Nicaraguan food.