The Mombacho volcano towers over the city of Granada along the shores of Lake Nicaragua. It tops out at 1345 meters, dwarfed by the volcano peaks we saw along the Andes in Ecuador. However, the steep slopes form an island of biodiversity. Vegetation and wildlife vary with elevation and above 800 meters the volcano becomes a cloud forest with bromeliads, ferns and mosses clinging to the trees. Most days the upper reaches of the volcano are obscured by cloud cover but on the day we visited, we had cloud free views from the mountain.
From Granada, we took the bus towards the town of Nandaime and asked to be dropped off at the entrance to Mombacho. From that point, it is 1.5km to the park entrance. You can either walk or take a moto-taxi. At the park entrance, you pay $15 each for the entrance fee and a ride in an open backed truck to the biological station at 1100 meters. At the station you get a brief introduction to the volcano and an explanation of the hiking paths available.
We took a path that wound through the cloud forest and offered a view of one of the main craters as well as a panoramic view of Lake Nicaragua, Las Isletas, Granada and Laguna de Apoyo, a nearby volcanic crater lake at a lower altitude. Along the way, we saw the many beautiful tropical plants in the cloud forest, observed 2 monkeys climbing high in the trees and a small deer grazing alongside the path.
It was a pleasant day that, in addition to the natural beauty, offered a brief respite from the heat of Granada.