One of the BEST things to do when travelling is head off the beaten track and explore the natural environment of the place you’re visiting. This, for me, means lots of hikes and outdoor adventures!
My first taste of travel was on my Outlook Expedition trip to Nicaragua and Honduras with school when I was 17 (my first blog post was an overview of this trip so you can have a read here).
While some elements of the expedition were arranged by the company, such as a week volunteering and a week learning to dive in Honduras, we got a say in what our volunteer project would be and what extra activities we wanted to do in Nicaragua. Our group quickly decided that we wanted to go on a trek in Nicaragua’s Cordillera de los Maribios mountain range, which we were told is famous for its active volcanoes and opportunities to take part in adrenaline-fuelled activities.
The trek spanned 3 full days and included 4 active volcanoes.
Volcan Telica was the first volcano we trekked up to and we camped right near the top, with the crater just a few minutes’ walk away. Horses carried our main luggage, which was slightly questionable but helpful for those who struggled on the 6 hour hike to the camp. Our guides pointed out some of the incredible bird and insect life on our way up (less nerdy than it sounds) and we even caught sight of hummingbirds. When we reached camp in the evening we went to see the lava in the crater, lying on our fronts and crawling to the edge!
The next morning we woke up at 04:00 to watch the sunrise over the mountain range. The walk down the other side of Telica was much quicker and we were soon on a bus to the next volcano, Cerro Negro.
This was without a doubt the highlight of the entire expedition. It was super windy but it only took about an hour to reach the top, and then we got to experience the best bit: running down the volcano.
Cerro Negro, AKA the Black Mountain, is famous for its ‘volcano boarding’, where participants dress in orange jumpsuits and literally surf down the scree. For health and safety reasons, we weren’t allowed to do this (as it was a school trip), but it was so much fun sliding down with panoramic views of the volcanic rock merging with the forest landscape, and simultaneously witnessing one of the best sunsets of my life. Day two ended with us not bothering to pitch our tents and just lying in our sleeping bags under the stars.
The final day of our trek required another very early start, as we hiked to the lesser known and rather strange-looking El Hoyo, a comparatively smaller crater in the side of a lush green slope. This was on our way to the big finale: Asososca, a volcanic crater, which is now a lagoon, that we were able to swim in before we caught the bus back to our hostel. How many people can say they’ve been swimming in a volcano?!
Nicaragua was such an interesting country to visit and our 3 day trek was truly eye-opening as we had already learned so much about the city life, countryside and farming communities, colonial architecture, religious and political history.
I don’t know of anyone else who has visited Nicaragua and I think it is often overlooked as tourists visit its more popular neighbours, such as Costa Rica. The people are wonderfully welcoming, the food is i n c r e d i b l e and the natural landscape is exceptional.
If you’re a student looking to organise a group expedition like this, check out the Outlook Expeditions website! If you’re over 18 and looking for something a bit more budget-friendly and flexible, take a look at Intrepid Travel, a responsible tourism company which arranges hundreds of tours based on either location or activity/theme!