There was only fifty feet left between the top of Concepcion and me but I didn’t think I was going to make it.
The wind was howling, blowing so strongly that with each step I took I was jilted backwards. My adrenaline spiked high each time I looked down at what would be a very rocky landing.
I could see our half way point, where the escalating jungle met flat land and slowly turned into pebbles, then larger rocks and eventually such big rocks that I was currently hiding between two.
Black, volcano rocks came flying at my face and instinctively I looked down, using my baseball cap to shield my face from the stones and pebbles that the wind had uprooted.
I tried one more time to get on my feet and run up those last few feet, covered in volcanic black sand. It was as if I was running in place, my few steps of progress taking me out of my rocky alcove and fully into the elements.
That’s when I felt my tour guides hand grab mine and without a word exchanged, we sprinted up to the top of Concepcion.
And there she was.
Standing at the top of this active volcano was Nicaragua in all of her beauty. The island of Ometempe shined lavishly green, the Pacific Ocean bordering its foliaged coastline.
Coyly standing, I could see into Concepcion. I never thought I would ever see the inside of a volcano but here it was. The sides were sandy and rocky, just as the climb up had been. For an active volcano, I felt oddly at ease.
“You only get to see a view like this 10% of the time!” My guide belted out. His English was perfect and his cardiovascular system even better. He was barely breaking a sweat as my travel companions and I had soaked through our shirts.
That was the adventure of a lifetime.
To start the Concepcion hike, you make your way through farm lands temporarily having to pit stop to let a farmer and his cattle pass by you on the street.
A twenty minute walk leads you into the jungle where you climb under banana trees and avocado trees along a pretty well created path. Like most days near the volcano, rain sprinkled from the sky and pretty soon we were all soaked, both in sweat and rain.
The jungle hike up is half the battle. Consider it the warm up. It’s a pretty intense elevation, you will work the hell out of your legs and your will hike through branches, trees and mud to reach the half way point.
The view from the halfway point is worthy of the trek alone. It is flat and insanely green, giving you a glimpse into just how epic the view from the top is going to be. It’s the perfect place to rest and mentally prepare for what is to come next.
At first the second portion of the hike isn’t so bad. The rocks are large and easy to walk across, not many are loose and you have confidence where you put your feet down.
Three quarters of the way up and it is a different story. This is when the wind comes in, pushing you from side to side and reminding you of your lack of safety harness or net.
I vividly remember looking down and holding on to those rocks for dear life. My mantra quickly became, one foot in front of the other, one foot in front of the other, one foot in front of the other.
That’s how I landed myself in that rocky alcove, so close to the top and so many steps ahead of where I had started.
The hike took about seven hours but can easily be longer if you aren’t in good physical shape. We each took 2.5L of water, snacks and sandwiches. This is not a hike that you want to come poorly prepared for, you must bring enough water and snacks.
For travelers who like to do things on their own, it is illegal to climb Concepcion without a guide and I wouldn’t suggest risking it. For $25 you can have a guide that knows the ins and outs of the jungle and the very precarious situation at the top so that you have a better chance of not getting hurt and making it down the volcano in one piece.
The most epic Nicaragua adventure that you can find yourself is joining other world travelers and saying yes to climbing Concepcion. Bring your hiking boots, an extra shirt, a rain jacket and most importantly every ounce of bravery in your body.