Laguna de Asososca is a beautiful crater lake located in Leon, Nicaragua. Not to be confused with Laguna de Asososca in Managua, the lake in Leon is a stunning natural attraction that’s barely explored by tourists. Even less explored is Volcan Asososca, which is positioned northwest of Laguna de Asososca. By hiking Volcan Asososca, you’ll enjoy unbeatable views of the lake, which very few people have experienced. Of course, hiking the volcano and then swimming in the lake is the best way to experience this stunning part of Nicaragua.
In this guide, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about Laguna de Asososca and Volcan Asososca. First, we’ll cover the location of this natural attraction and a little history. Then, we’ll talk about hiking the volcano, and, hiking and swimming at the lake. Most importantly, we’ll recommend an excellent Laguna de Asososca tour, which offers the Volcan Asososca hike. But, we’ll also detail how to get there independently.
We hope you find this guide helpful. For other amazing Nicaragua volcano hikes, check out our Cerro Negro, Momotombo, Telica and Cosiguina guides. Plus, check out The 16 Best Hikes in Nicaragua and Hiking Ometepe: 4 Excellent Trails Not To Miss.
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Laguna de Asososca in Leon vs. Managua
This guide will help you plan your visit to the amazing Laguna de Asososca in Leon. Confusingly, there’s another Laguna de Asososca located in Managua. To avoid confusion, locals refer to the lake in Leon as ‘Laguna del Tigre‘. In English, this translates to Tiger Lagoon. We’ll talk about the history of the name ‘Laguna de Tigre’ below.
Locals also refer to the lake in Leon as Asososca Junior, because it’s smaller than the one in Managua. To further prevent confusion, the lake in Managua is also referred to as the Laguna Asososca Nature Reserve.
In this guide, we’ll exclusively discuss Laguna de Asososca located in Leon, not the one in Managua.
Laguna de Asososca Location and History
Located in northwest Nicaragua, Laguna de Asososca is positioned south of the Pilas Volcano Complex Nature Reserve. This is located in the municipality of La Paz Centro in the department of Leon. Laguna de Asososca is positioned at the southeast base of Volcan Asososca, which is also known as Asososca Volcano and Cerro de Asososca.
Both the lake and volcano from part of the far-stretching Marrabios (Marabios) Chain. This volcanic chain consists of a group of interlinking volcanoes. Other important volcanoes in this chain include the San Cristobal, Las Pilas, Telica, Cerro Negro, El Hoyo, El Chonco, Casita, Santa Clara, Rota, and Momotombo volcanoes.
Historically, the word ‘Asososca’ comes from the Nahuatl language of the indigenous Nahua people. The word ‘Asososca’ is derived from two Nahuatl terms. These include ‘atl-xouxouhqui-ca‘, which means ‘place of blue water‘, and ‘axoxozco‘, which means ‘sour water‘. Also, according to the Spanish chronicler, Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo, the indigeous people referred to the lake as ‘Tecuacinabia‘. Extracted from this term is the word ‘tecuani‘, which means a wild animal, or biter, referring to a tiger. So, this is where the name Laguna del Tigre, or Tiger Lagoon, originates from.
How to Explore Laguna de Asososca and Volcan Asososca
Let’s talk about the best way to explore Laguna de Asososca and the neighbouring Volcan Asososca in Nicaragua. From Volcan El Hoyo, Beck and I hiked to the volcano and then hiked to and swam at the lake. This was part of a two-day tour of Cerro Negro, El Hoyo and Asososca. We highly recommend exploring the lake and volcano this way. It’s a phenomenal adventure.
Cerro Negro, El Hoyo and Asososca Two-Day Tour
To make the most of your time in Nicaragua, why not combine exploration of Laguna de Asososca with exploration of other nearby volcanoes? Hiking and volcano boarding Cerro Negro in the morning. Then, hiking and camping at Volcan El Hoyo. The next day, summiting Volcan Asososca and then hiking to and swimming at Laguna de Asososca. Yeah, why not?
We can highly recommend doing the Cerro Negro, El Hoyo and Asososca two-day adventure with Fun ‘N’ Sun Travels. Beck and I had an awesome time doing this tour! Roundtrip transportation from Leon, camping equipment, trekking poles, food and all of the entrance fees are included. The cost for the two-day tour without the Volcan Asososca hike is as follows:
- $105USD/person for a group of two
- $90USD/person for a group of three
- $80USD/person for a group of four
To include the Volcan Asososca hike, it’s $10USD extra per person. Overall, it’s only a small cost for a challenging, exhilarating and rarely-explored hike, which provides phenomenal views of Laguna de Asososca.
Other Asososca de Laguna Guided Tours
If you’re not sold on the two-day tour, you can just do a day trip to Laguna de Asososca and Volcan Asososca. We think exploring the lake and volcano is more of an adventure when done so as part of the two-day tour. But, if you’re short on time, and only have a day to spare, a day trip is your best option. Included in the price is roundtrip transportation from your accommodation in Leon, trekking poles, packed lunch, drinks, snacks, the entrance fee and a guide. These are the prices for the Laguna de Asososca and Volcan Asososca day trip with Fun ‘N’ Sun Travels:
- $45USD/person for a group of four or more
- $50USD/person for a group of three
- $60USD/person for a group of two
We have to be honest though. The Volcan Asososca hike is very difficult! So, if you’re an inexperienced hiker, it might be best to skip this trail. In this case, it’s best to do the Laguna de Asososca day trip without hiking Volcan Asososca. Included in the price are the same perks listed in the tour option above, except the packed lunch isn’t provided. Thankfully, the Laguna de Asososca day trip, without hiking Volcan Asososca is the cheapest tour option. You’ll find the prices for this Fun ‘N’ Sun Travels tour below.
- $25USD/person for a group of four or more
- $30USD/person for a group of three
- $35USD/person for a group of two
To book either of these tour options or the two-day tour with Fun ‘N’ Sun Travels, simply contact them on Whatsapp (+505 8993 3714) or on their office landline (+505 2311 0748). Otherwise, you can drop into their office in Leon for more information. Feel free to scope out their Facebook and Instagram.
How to Get to Laguna de Asososca Independently
It’s possible to get to Laguna de Asososca in Nicaragua independently. In fact, it’s not mandatory to hike Volcan Asososca with a local guide. But, in saying that, the route to the volcano from the lake is difficult to navigate. Plus, the actual trail to summit Volcan Asososca is steep, sketchy and potentially dangerous. So, although Beck and I love hiking independently, we recommend having a guide for hiking Volcan Asososca. But, if you plan on just visiting the lake, it’s easy enough to visit independently.
Getting There From Leon
From Leon, jump on a chicken bus to La Paz Centro. The journey takes approx. 45 minutes and costs around $1USD. Then, from La Paz Centro, catch a chicken bus heading towards Momotombo (León Viejo). But, before reaching Momotombo, you’ll have to get off at the junction that goes to Malpaisillo. From La Paz Centro, the drive is around 20 minutes to this junction. Again, the price is around $1USD.
Then, from the junction, you’ll need to walk on the side of the road for about 1.8km to reach the dirt road entrance leading to Laguna de Asososca. This walk shouldn’t take longer than 20 minutes. Near this access point, you’ll pay the $2USD entrance fee. Try to bring the exact change if possible.
Afterwards, to return to Leon, simply do the same journey in reverse. You can just flag down the bus at the previously mentioned junction to get back to La Paz Centro. But, keep in mind that the final bus departing La Paz Centro to Leon usually leaves around 4:30pm.
Getting There From Managua
From the Israel Lewites Market bus terminal in Managua, catch a chicken bus to La Paz Centro. The journey takes around 2 hours and costs around $2USD. Once you arrive at La Paz Centro, simply follow the steps described in the above section!
Volcan Asososca and Laguna de Asososca Preview and Map
- Type: One-way (if you’re doing the two-day tour)
- Distance: 13.5 km
- Time: 7–9 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 580m
- Difficulty: Very difficult
- Trailhead: Volcan El Hoyo
- Map: Wikiloc
Keep in mind, that the trail specs and map above are from the one-way hike from El Hoyo. This is part of the Cerro Negro, El Hoyo and Asososca two-day tour. If you’re just doing the Laguna de Asososca day tour without the Volcan Asososca hike, the walk from the roadside to the lake is around 2.8km. This takes approx. 1 hour, each way.
For those doing a Laguna de Asososca and Volcan Asososca hike day tour, depending on the company, they may use a 4×4 to drive closer to Laguna de Asososca. This cuts out about 1.5km of road walking each way. From that closer position, it’s an approx. 5km hike to the summit of Volcan Asososca. So, that’s an approx. 10km hike, which takes around 5 hours. Otherwise, if you park roadside, it’s a 6.5km hike to the summit of the volcano.
FYI – you won’t really need any maps if you do this hike as part of a guided tour, which we highly recommend. But, if you’re hiking it independently, definitely use a map!
Volcan Asososca Trail: Breathtaking Landscape Views
If you visit independently or with a tour group for a day trip, and intend on hiking Volcan Asososca, you’ll pass Laguna de Asososca first before heading to the volcano. But, as mentioned, Beck and I hiked the volcano from El Hoyo as part of the Cerro Negro, El Hoyo and Asososca two-day tour. This meant, we’d summit the volcano first, and then, hike to the lake.
To be honest, the Volcan Asososca trail is extremely difficult! There’s probably a reason why this trail is rarely done by tourists or locals. The trail is very steep with unstable terrain. It’s very difficult to grip the slippery loose rocks. So, trekking poles are a must to help you advance with every step. And, you’ll need a whole lot of energy and determination to reach the peak. Of course, that’s just half the job.
Descending the trail is even trickier. Beck and I fell down a total of six times! During the descent, you’ll be sliding down a steep, uneven and slippery trail. But, you’ll need to crank on the breaks to avoid hitting big rocks and trees. You’ll definitely need to use your hands to grip trees to help you descend. Summiting the volcano isn’t for the faint-hearted. We definitely don’t recommend inexperienced hikers take on this trail!
At the summit, you’ll have extraordinary views of Laguna de Asososca, Momotombo and El Hoyo. After the struggle to hike up, the views from atop make it all worth it!
Laguna de Asososca: Swimming In the Crater Lake
After conquering the volcano, it’s time to hike back to the lake. This trail is quite flat and winds through dry forest. In comparison to hiking Volcan Asososca, the trail leading to and around the lake is very easy. Hiking by the side of the lake is a nice and tranquil experience.
Of course, one of the highlights of visiting the lake is swimming in it! After hiking in hot conditions, swimming in the crater lake is a great relief. With Volcan Asososca and El Hoyo in the distance, floating in the cool waters of the lake is pure bliss.
Once you’ve enjoyed a paddle and dried off, it’s time to finish the hike. Initially, the trail ascends and winds around the lake. Soon enough, you’ll turn away from the lake and join a wide dirt road. The remaining trail to the road is a bit tedious and very dusty. But, at least it’s a flat and easy trail to finish off the hike. This is where Beck and I smashed out some speed hiking.
What’s speed hiking? It’s useful when covering a boring or tedious stretch of trail. Find out more about speed hiking here.
Laguna de Asososca in Nicaragua is a genuine hidden gem. Not many tourists visit. So, if you decide to visit the lake, you’ll be exploring an area barely seen by visitors to Nicaragua. Plus, the Volcan Asososca hike is an even less explored area. Tourists nor locals take on this mighty trail given its difficulty. But if you’re an experienced hiker, it’s worth summiting the volcano. Indeed, the views from the volcano provide the best views of the lake!
Don’t Forget These Five Hiking Essentials
- 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.
If you’re doing the two-day tour, make sure to pack 7L of water, snacks, sunglasses, sunscreen, a hat, insect repellant, a towel, swimmers and a neck gaiter for volcano boarding.
For a more complete hiking gear list, check out our 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With. Or, for a general summary of everything you’d need for a backpacking trip, visit our Ultimate Packing Checklist.
- What are the opening hours for Laguna de Asososca in Nicaragua? There are no opening hours. The lake is open all year round. So, if you have your own vehicle and can visit independently, you can visit as early as you like to beat the heat and crowds.
- What is Nicaragua like for a family holiday? Nicaragua has plenty on offer for a brilliant family holiday. Sure, the Volcan Asososca hike isn’t for the kiddies. But, Laguna de Asososca is the ideal family-friendly location. The lake is still, calm and safe to swim in. In addition, walking to and around the lake isn’t too strenuous either.
- What are the tourist places in El Salvador and Nicaragua? Luckily, Beck and I have been able to visit many awesome tourist places in El Salvador and Nicaragua. We’ve also checked out some beautiful lesser-known areas. Check out our El Salvador guides and other Nicaragua guides for more information.
- Choose the Cerro Negro, El Hoyo and Asososca two-day tour: this will help you see as much of Nicaragua in a shorter amount of time.
- Visit before it becomes a popular tourist attraction: sooner or later, we’re sure Laguna de Asososca will do the rounds on social media. Make sure you visit before it becomes a tourist hotspot.
- Google: we couldn’t find much online about hiking Volcan Asososca in Nicaragua. Admittedly, we just found some stats and data about the volcano itself. So, bookmark this guide! Use it as a future resource, for when you plan to hike and swim at Laguna de Asososca.
Are you interested in trekking in other countries in Central America? Find out about the best hikes in El Salvador and Guatemala by reading – 20 Epic El Salvador Hiking Trails Not To Miss and 17 of the Best Hikes in Guatemala.
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