Hiking Concepcion Volcano on Ometepe Island is a fantastic adventure travel experience in Nicaragua. Also known as the Volcan Concepcion hike, the Concepcion Volcano hike is possibly the best volcano hike in Nicaragua. The trail up this active volcano has many epic lookout points. So, if you decide to hike Concepcion Volcano, you’ll enjoy views of the whole island! Plus, with good weather, you’ll get to scope out the incredible crater atop the volcano.
In this travel guide, we’ll talk about everything you need to know about hiking Concepcion Volcano in Ometepe, Nicaragua. We’ll start with some general information about this volcano. Then, a trail description of the Concepcion Volcano hike. Afterwards, we’ll detail how to get to Ometepe, discuss tour options and answer some FAQs. Whilst we’re at it, we’ll tell you where to stay and what else to do on Ometepe Island.
We hope you find this guide helpful. If you’re keen on hiking Nicaragua volcanoes, check out our guides on Cerro Negro, El Hoyo, Cosiguina, Telica, Masaya and Mombacho. Also, check out The 16 Best Hikes in Nicaragua and Hiking Ometepe: 4 Excellent Trails Not To Miss.
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About Concepcion Volcano and Ometepe Island
Concepcion Volcano is the highest volcano on Ometepe Island. At, 1,610 metres, Concepcion Volcano is actually the second highest volcano in Nicaragua, behind San Cristobal. The largest village on Ometepe Island, Moyogalpa, is only 300 metres above sea level. So, you can imagine that hiking Concepcion Volcano is going to be a little steep!
Given its height, Concepcion Volcano is a dominating feature of the Ometepe landscape. Even from the coastline of the mainland of Nicaragua, you’ll easily recognise the outline of this classically cone-shaped volcano. Alongside Concepcion, Maderas Volcano is the other volcano on Ometepe.
Concepcion Volcano is located in the northwest part of Ometepe. Almost facing opposite it, Maderas is positioned in the southeast. Ometepe is surrounded by the largest lake in Central America – Nicaragua Lake. Plus, Ometepe itself is the largest island in Lake Nicaragua. The island is home to about 35,000 people.
Concepcion Volcano is an active stratovolcano. Knowing this volcano has erupted at least 25 times since 1883 adds to the thrill of hiking Concepcion Volcano.
Concepcion Volcano Hike Preview
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 8.65 km
- Time: 7–9 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 1,338m
- Difficulty: Hard
- Trailhead: Los Ramos (NIC-64)
- Map: Wikiloc
The Concepcion Volcano hike is one of the hardest trails in Nicaragua. Many people think it’s the toughest volcano hike in Nicaragua. But, we think the Asososca, Momotombo and Maderas volcano hikes are more difficult! Plus, it’s nothing compared to the Volcan Acatenango hike difficulty in Guatemala! But, yes, hiking Concepcion Volcano is challenging.
Mainly, it’s the vertical gain that makes this hike hard. I mean, any hike that has +1,000m elevation isn’t going to be easy. Also, at times, the terrain is difficult underfoot. Loose volcanic rocks can make gripping the trail hard. Thankfully, the terrain isn’t as challenging as the other hikes mentioned above. Plus, there’s a way to avoid difficult sections. We’ll talk about this in the trail description below.
The weather is another factor that can make hiking Concepcion Volcano in Ometepe challenging. It’s common for the peak of the volcano to be covered in clouds. So, expect tough conditions during the hike. Thick mist, strong winds and poor visibility are all commonplace when hiking Concepcion Volcano.
But, thankfully, all of your efforts will be worth it! Hiking Concepcion Volcano is a rewarding experience. And, one that offers great views of Ometepe! Just remember, when the going gets tough, just keep smiling! It’ll keep your mindset positive when you’re feeling knackered!
Hiking Concepcion Volcano
The Concepcion Volcano hike starts from the roadside and immediately enters dry forest. Very soon, we were entertained by some howler monkeys hanging above the trail!
After a short while, you’ll pass under the Concepcion Tears Viewpoint sign. And, just a little further on, you’ll find this viewpoint. It’s located within Finca Santa Matilda. If there’s one thing to know about hiking in Central America, it’s that you’ll often pass coffee farms!
At the wooden platform viewpoint, you’ll pay the $3USD entrance fee (or 100 cordobas). At only 275m above sea level, the lookout provides exceptional views of Ometepe and Maderas Volcano. So, early on, you’ll enjoy stunning views. Of course, the views only get better as you continue hiking Concepcion Volcano.
After leaving the viewpoint, the trail continues to ascend and wind up the volcano. Keep your camera at the ready as Maderas Volcano and Lake Nicaragua become more prominent in the distance. Eventually, you’ll reach a decent vantage point featuring a wooden bench. This is a good spot for a snack!
Arriving at a Junction
After continued hard work hiking Concepcion Volcano, you’ll reach a junction. We recommend taking the trail that leads left. It’s a sturdy rocky trail, that’s much easier to hike up than the other trail option, which is sandy and difficult to climb. Although, this other trail is the perfect trail to descend. You’ll simply ski down on foot, sliding on the volcanic ash.
We also experienced this at San Miguel Volcano in El Salvador. And, at Momotombo Volcano, San Cristobal Volcano and Volcan Asososca in Nicaragua. The difference is, that there’s only one way up for these other hikes. This is what makes them harder than the Concepcion Volcano hike. At least, for Concepcion, there’s an easier trail to ascend, avoiding the trail made of ash.
The Concepcion Volcano Hike Summit
The higher we climbed, the cloudier it became. We had hoped for good weather. But, it’s common to meet poor conditions as you get closer to the volcano summit. And, sure enough, we encountered these typical summit conditions when hiking Concepcion Volcano. So, near the top of the volcano, we decided to wait for the weather to clear.
After half an hour, we continued towards the summit of Concepcion Volcano. And, well, our plan to wait for better weather wasn’t successful. With dense cloud cover, we weren’t destined for brilliant Concepcion Volcano summit views of Ometepe. Nor, were we able to see inside the incredible crater.
With strong gusts of wind sending us sideways, we only stayed a short while at the top of the volcano. With a tinge of disappointment, we made our way back down. Of course, as we descended, our views of Ometepe Island, Lake Nicaragua and Maderas Volcano slowly formed again.
Thankfully, the views continued to improve the further we descended. And, as we looked back up at the summit of Concepcion Volcano, we noticed the cloud cover starting to improve. If only we had started the hike later! If there’s one bit of advice – don’t start the Concepcion Volcano too early. We’ll discuss this more below.
Concepcion Volcano Hike Recap
The Concepcion Volcano hike is one of the best trekking experiences in Nicaragua. Expect a difficult, but adventurous hike! For all the logistical details, such as how to get to Ometepe in the first place, continue below.
How to Get to Ometepe Island
To hike Concepcion Volcano, you’ll need to get to Ometepe Island from mainland Nicaragua by ferry. Most tourists will visit Ometepe from San Juan del Sur, Granada or Managua. From either of these locations, you’ll need to get a chicken bus to Rivas.
Once you arrive at Rivas, you’ll need to get to the port of San Jorge, which is only a 15 minute drive away. From Rivas, you can either wait for a bus heading to the port (approx. $0.50USD). Or, you can catch a taxi (approx. $2–3USD). A taxi is a much easier and quicker option.
At the San Jorge Ferry Terminal, you’ll find many ticket booths. Basically, different ferry companies operate the route. They all charge roughly the same price – $2USD (50 cordobas) and offer the same service. Basically, just buy a ticket for whichever ferry is leaving next.
The journey to the Moyogalpa Ferry Terminal on Ometepe takes around 75 minutes. From the ferry, you’ll first enjoy incredible views of Concepcion Volcano. After seeing such a breathtaking feature of the island’s landscape, you’ll be pumped to hike Concepcion Volcano!
San Juan del Sur to Ometepe
There should be plenty of buses heading to Rivas from San Juan del Sur. Starting around 5am, the bus generally departs every 30–45 minutes. The final bus to Rivas is usually around 5pm. The journey time is around 45 minutes and costs about $1USD. Keep in mind, that the final ferry to Ometepe usually departs at 5:45pm. So, to be on the safe side, we recommend getting a bus no later than 3:30pm, in case there’s traffic.
Granada to Ometepe
There’s a bus heading to Rivas from Granada around half a dozen times a day. Usually, the buses depart as early as 5:30–6am. The last bus usually leaves around 3pm. But, we’ve heard this latest departure time doesn’t run every day. So, sometimes the final departure of the day is around 1pm. Check at the bus station the day before you intend to travel to clarify. The drive time is around 2.5 hours and costs about $2USD.
Managua to Ometepe
From Mercado Roberto Huembes bus station, you have two options – regular or express bus. The regular chicken bus leaves every 30 minutes from around 5am to 6:30pm. Expect the journey time to be 2.5 hours. Costs are around $2USD. The express bus is also a regular service, which is slightly quicker (2.25 hours). It costs only a bit more ($2.50USD). So, there’s not really much in it. Either bus should suffice.
Is a Guide Compulsory For Hiking Concepcion Volcano?
Yes, you can’t hike Concepcion Volcano without a guide. You can get to the trailhead independently by taking a bus, tuk-tuk or taxi. But, you’ll have to meet your guide at the trailhead. So, to hike Concepcion Volcano, you’ll need to arrange a guide in advance. The easiest way to hire a guide is through your accommodation or a tour company. For a local guide, it’s usually $15USD per person to hike Concepcion Volcano. Transportation to and from the trailhead comes at an additional cost.
After many hiking adventures with Fun ‘N’ Sun Travels on the mainland, they helped us organise our Concepcion Volcano hike. The friendly owner, Memo, put us in touch with an Ometepe Island hiking guide named Dimas. He’s an exceptional guide, who speaks English. It’s uncommon to find English-speaking guides on Ometepe. So, this was a real bonus for Beck and I, who struggle with our Spanish.
As mentioned before, don’t start the Concepcion Volcano hike too early. We were picked up from our accommodation in Moyogalpa at 5am. This meant we started to hike Concepcion Volcano at around 5:45am. Of course, the intention was to hike early and beat the midday heat. But, by leaving this early, we spoilt our chances of clear views atop Concepcion Volcano.
Generally speaking, the cloud cover tends to clear by late morning. Of course, the weather is unpredictable and doesn’t always follow this pattern! But, still, we highly recommend starting the hike around 7:30–8am for the best chance of a clear summit. The hike up takes around 4–5 hours. So, this should time well with arriving at the summit in good conditions. Then, during the hottest part of the day, you’ll descend the volcano, which is a much easier part of the hike. Perfect plan me thinks!
Concepcion Volcano Hiking Tour
It’s possible to organise a Concepcion Volcano hiking tour with a tour company based on Ometepe or the mainland. By doing so, everything will be taken care of. This includes roundtrip transportation to and from your accommodation, entrance fee, a local guide and food. Personally, we didn’t hike with any tour companies in Ometepe. So, we can’t recommend a tour company from there. But, we had many great experiences in Nicaragua with Fun ‘N’ Travels. Although they’re based in Leon, they have all the connections to organise your trip to Ometepe, including the Concepcion Volcano hike.
Fun ‘N’ Sun Travels offer the following prices for a Concepcion Volcano hiking tour:
- $38USD/person for two people
- $35USD/person for three or for people
- $30USD/person for five to seven people
To organise your trip to Ometepe, simply contact Fun ‘N’ Sun Travels on Whatsapp (+505 8993 3714) or on their office landline (+505 2311 0748). Feel free to check them out on Facebook and Instagram. Otherwise, you can ask your accommodation in Ometepe to help you book a tour.
Concepcion Volcano Hike FAQs
Before you hike Concepcion Volcano in Nicaragua, check out these FAQs to help plan your trip!
How Long Does It Take to Hike Concepcion Volcano?
The time it takes to hike Concepcion Volcano often varies between 7–9 hours. Usually, it takes 4–5 hours to ascend and 3–4 hours to descend. We’ve heard the world record for hiking Concepcion Volcano was 2.5 hours set by an Englishman! Also, our guide told us that he’s had clients take around 14 hours to do the hike! So, that gives you an idea of the time range for hiking Concepcion Volcano.
What is the Entrance Fee For Hiking Concepcion Volcano?
The entrance fee is 3USD/person (100 cordobas).
When Was the Last Concepcion Volcano Eruption?
The last Concepcion Volcano eruption was on 9 March 2010.
Where to Stay on Ometepe Island
Hiking Concepcion Volcano means you’ll need to find a place to stay on Ometepe Island. The most popular areas to stay on the island include Moyogalpa, Merida and Altagracia. In terms of hiking Concepcion Volcano, Altagracia is located closest to the trailhead (around a 25 minute drive away). Both Moyogalpa and Merida are about a 45 minute drive away. But, if you plan to hike Maderas Volcano and San Ramon Waterfall, you’ll find Merida is a better base for accessing these hikes.
So, it seems Merida and Altagracia are the best locations for hiking on Ometepe. But, Beck and I actually stayed in Moyogalpa. That’s because it’s conveniently located close to the ferry port. This makes getting from and to the ferry terminal quick, easy and cheap. Moyogalpa also has the most accommodation options, restaurants and a large supermarket. But, getting to the Maderas Volcano (1 hour) and Sam Ramon Waterfall (1 hour 20 minutes) isn’t as convenient. So, it really depends on your plans!
Anyway, let’s look at the best budget-friendly and most highly rated hotel options in these areas below.
FYI – San Domingo is another excellent choice for accommodation in Ometepe. There are not as many options. But, you’ll be well-positioned for all the main hikes on the island. For a budget stay, we recommend Eco-Lodge La Chiponga. Whilst, the best luxury option is Hotel Villa Paraiso.
The Best Moyogalpa Accommodation Options
- El Peregrino: Beck and I really enjoyed our stay here. Conveniently located near the Moyogalpa Ferry Terminal, the hotel is run by a charismatic, friendly and helpful French owner named Jose. The rooms are huge, there’s a large outdoor kitchen area and plenty of outdoor seating. This makes soaking in views of Concepcion Volcano in Ometepe very easy.
- Hotel La Estancia: one of the most highly-rated hotels on Ometepe Island. Included is a delicious breakfast, pool, bar and garden. Of course, expect great views of Concepcion Volcano before you go and hike it!
Best Merida Accommodation Options
- Hospedaje La Gloria: this lovely family-run guesthouse is an excellent option for those wanting a private room at an affordable price. There’s a really nice restaurant, bar, shared lounge and garden on-site. So, it’s the perfect place to relax after hiking Concepcion Volcano in Nicaragua
- Xalli Beach Hotel: this beachfront hotel provides a world-class island stay. If you’re looking for the nicest hotel on Ometepe, this runs close! With modern facilities and an excellent location, you’re guaranteed a nice stay.
Best Altagracia Accommodation Options
- Bananas Guest House: it’s hard to find nicer accommodation in Altagracia at such a low price. Located on the beach, this guesthouse provides spacious rooms, delicious meals on-site and fantastic views of Concepcion Volcano!
- Hotel La Omaja: the best accommodation in Altagracia on Ometepe Island. With an exceptional pool and terrace, there’s ample space to enjoy views of the beach and volcanoes. Plus, there’s an awesome restaurant on-site. So, you don’t need to worry about buying food!
Things to Do in Ometepe
Other than hiking Concepcion Volcano, there are other great outdoor activities to enjoy on Ometepe Island. These include:
- Kayaking Ometepe: one of the most popular activities on the island. Cheap kayaking tours can be arranged from El Peru, Playa Los Mangos or Merida.
- Camping Ometepe: there are many places to camp on Ometepe. We’ve heard Camping Lodge Ometepe is an excellent place to pitch!
- Waterfall chasing: the San Ramon Waterfall hike is a must. If you can time your visit during the wet season, you’ll enjoy a better-looking waterfall!
- Hiking Ometepe: if you’re after another Ometepe volcano hike, we recommend the Maderas Volcano hike. You can read more about it here.
What to Wear and Pack For the Concepcion Volcano Hike
- Merrell Moab Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots: these hiking boots are super comfortable and lightweight.
- The North Face Venture Jacket: a fantastic windproof/waterproof jacket.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack for hiking, which has plenty of space to store your gear.
- The North Face TKA Glacier Fleece Jacket: an excellent warmth:weight ratio fleece jacket that’ll help keep you warm.
- Columbia Convertible Trousers: a value for money pair of water-resistant convertible trousers.
Make sure to also pack 3L of water, snacks, sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat.
For a more comprehensive hiking gear list, check out our 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With. Or, for a summary of everything you’d need for a backpacking trip, visit our Ultimate Packing Checklist.
- Don’t rush Ometepe Island: other than hiking Concepcion Volcano, there’s plenty to explore on Ometepe in Nicaragua. At the very least, stay for four nights!
- Check out the Ometepe ferry schedule: to help plan your trip, you can find the latest ferry schedule here.
- Stock up at Pali: the largest supermarket on the island will provide all of your hiking snacks!
Where else in the world should we hike – South America, the Middle East, North America? Let us know in the comments below!