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Reserva Natural Volcán Cosigüina - City Park Potosi - Nicaragua

At Nicaragua’s northwestern tip is a reserve full of tropic dry forest with spider monkey’s and scarlet macaws. The crown of the natural reserve is the massive Cosigüina crater, once Nicaragua’s tallest volcano. Cosigüina’s height was spectacularly reduced during a series of eruptions in January 1835. The eruptions were so intense that fierce Cosigüina lost over 2,000 meters of altitude, from nearly 3000 meters to the current 872 meters. Central America fell under a cloud of darkness, with ashes falling in Mexico, Colombia and Jamaica. The ash fall was so thick that many terrified Nicaraguans believed it heralded the Apocalypse.

Cosigüina erupted again in 1852 and 1859 but, by the middle of the next century, appeared mostly spent. You can climb to the rim of the volcano to see the 1.5 kilometer lagoon created by the eruptions. The 700-meter decent is only possible with the proper climbing gear and experience.

The volcano’s sides are laced with unmarked hiking trails which can be traversed by foot, horseback or 4WD vehicles. The best known and most easily accessible routes are to the Sendero La Guacamaya, which begins at the ranger station just south of El Rosario, and to the Sendero El Jovo, with a trailhead at Potosí.

The Cosigüina trails are relatively easy and mostly shaded, but you should still pack sufficient water for what can be a three to five hour hike.

As a reward for an incredibly hot uphill climb, you’ll have a view of the Golfo de Fonseca, El Salvador’s Volcán Conchagua and Volcán Amapala in Honduras.

Since the trails are largely unmarked and occasionally overgrown, the best idea is to hire a guide. In Potosí, Tomas Reyes takes groups to the crater and back for $20. Trips on horseback cost an extra C$100 per person.

Fundación Lider (505-2-344-2381, can also arrange tours and lodging. Check with them to see if the temporarily closed Centro Turísticos Aguas Termales is back in business.

Potosi, Nicaragua

City Park

Relative price: Budget

Travel Skills: None

By Rachael Hanley
A sometime newspaper journalist with a heavy side of wanderlust, Rachael moved to Quito in November to work on the V!VA staff. She is currently...
17 May 2009

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