Mombacho Volcano Nicaragua
Mombacho Volcano Nicaragua fourth tallest volcano at 4,409 feet is 10 km from Granada. The last eruption was in 1570, which created the 365 Islands of Granada. Steam still actively vents from multiple places throughout the cauldron. Mombacho Volcano serves as a water collection reservoir for the area. The cloud forest, which covers most of Mombacho provides water almost continuously. The volcano absorbs water while the trees and plants prevent erosion. This water is used by the people in the surrounding area for both cultivation of coffee and human consumption.
Las Flores Coffee Plantation
Our trip to Mombacho Volcano included a stop at the Las Flores Coffee Plantation. We rode up from the Park entrance in the truck pictured here. There were only a few empty seats on that day. Our guide for this trip, Felipe, sat in front of us and pointed out and explained things to us on the way. The road to the coffee plantation was paved and not too steep.
Once at the plantation, we got out of the truck and went into the main building where coffee samples were set out for us. We took the coffee outside and walked through the garden area of the property to the edge of the hill where we could see Granada and the surrounding area laid out below. While the view was fantastic, it was pretty hazy that day and pictures of Granada were not very clear.
We were also able to see coffee plants out under the trees on one side of the property. Felipe told us that during the coffee picking season, about 200 people go out every day to pick and bring in the ripe berries.
From the Coffee Plantation, the road got steeper and more twisting. The driver often put the truck into compound low to climb up the road and around the switchbacks. More coffee plants were seen under the trees as we climbed away from the coffee plantation buildings.
Trek Around the Volcano
We came to a building and the truck stopped for us to dismount. Our guide took us aside from the rest of the riders, and explained that there are four craters within the cauldron. He said that we would hike the “El Crater” trail at our own pace taking the steepest part down first. It was of medium difficulty and would take us about 1.5 hours. He led the way to the trail head and down the path. We passed through thick cloud forest most of the way on a path that was relatively smooth. Felipe pointed out a tree here and a plant or flower there as being rare or important to the local people.
There were several lookout points along the way and we stopped at a few vent holes, where we could feel the heat and smell the sulfur in the steam. The trail seemed to go down for a long time, but when we started to climb, we were glad that we had taken the steepest part down. We stopped several time to rest on the way up. It gave us a chance to look around more carefully and see more of the flora in the forest. We got back to the building where the truck was ahead of some of the other groups. It gave us time to have some coffee and look at the displays there of flora and fauna. We were thankful that the truck driver took it very easy on the way back down the volcano.
Thoughts on Granada
The apartment we rented came with maid service three times per week. The service included a change of all linens and towels once per week. It did not include access the the inner courtyard and therefore there was no way to get fresh air through the apartment. We ran the air conditioner almost continuously because of this and ended up paying extra for the electricity used. Also, we ate out once per day on average, so had a good chance to sample the many fine restaurants in Granada. We did not find any restaurants that did not meet a high standard for the type of fare offered.
One day we had lunch with Amy and Darrell Bushnell at the Garden Cafe. Darrell writes Nica Nuggets, a newsletter about Granada and the expats who live there. Amy runs an art gallery, Amy’s Centro de Art, where she sells art and teaches art classes. We enjoyed our time with Amy and Darrell a great deal. It was a highlight of our time in Granada. They suggested that we tour some of the colonial homes and we readily agreed.
Colonial Home Tour
We were privileged to tour three of the premier colonial homes of Granada. Helen was our guide, whom we met at Amy Bushnell’s art gallery. The houses were nearby, including one that had a view of the cathedral from a balcony seating area. What impressed us most was the quality of the woodworking that went into these houses. The doors, upper room floors, banisters and railings were exquisite. The courtyards were landscaped with flowers and trees that complimented the pools, and provided areas for the family to relax and enjoy their time in the home.
Exit from Nicaragua
Mr. Julio came to take us to Managua. We locked the apartment as he loaded our suitcases in his car. As agreed with the ladies at GPS, We handed the keys to Mr. Julio and got in the car. The drive to Managua retraced some of the road we traveled to see the Masaya Volcano. We arrived at the Best Western Mercedes, across from the Managua airport, and had time for a swim, and a nice dinner, then retired. After breakfast, the shuttle took us to the airport for our flight to Costa Rica, where we stayed overnight before heading to Panama.
Next time: Boquete Panama