Central America’s Best Hikes

Holidays in Central America can take many forms. Cultural visits to ancient Mayan sites, lazy beach vacations set among the palms and activity adventures involving white-water rafting and zip lining.

And for those who enjoy strapping on their walking boots and hitting the trails, there’s a huge range of spectacular hikes to be enjoyed, featuring volcano walks and oceans views.

If you fit into the latter category, here’s a list of the best walks in Central America, which you can get stuck into with TrekAmerica.


Cerro Chato, Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a country blessed with incredible natural landscapes, many of which are dominated by towering volcanoes. Located in the centre of the country, the Arenal Volcano National Park is home to several spectacular cinder cones.

Although Volcan Arenal is the most prominent in the park, it is far too dangerous to climb. However, the slightly smaller, and dormant, Cerro Chato is perfectly safe for hikers.

Those who make the tough trek up through the humid forest to its 1,140m summit are rewarded by the sight of a beautiful turquoise lake, which they can scramble down to for a closer look.

You have to pay a small fee to climb the volcano, with the main route starting from the Arenal Observatory Lodge. The steep ascent and descent can be accomplished in four to five hours.


Volcan Maderas, Nicaragua

If you can’t get enough of climbing volcanoes and visiting crater lakes, you’ll love the ascent to the summit of Volcan Maderas on the island of Ometepe, situated in the centre of Lake Nicaragua in Nicaragua.

Slightly shorter and less dangerous than its cousin, Concepcion, Maderas makes for a challenging but doable day’s hiking. Although this is a popular hike, a guide is necessary to ensure your safety, and the climb to the 1,394m summit is a tough all-day one, often made more challenging by slippery and muddy conditions underfoot.

Upon reaching the top, you’ll be treated to the sight of Laguna de Maderas and fine views to Concepcion. As with Cerro Chato, a small fee is payable that allows you to trek through the coffee plantation on the slopes of the volcano.


Cusuco National Park, Honduras

If peak bagging is not your thing, but trekking through lush jungles in search of waterfalls and wildlife is, the Cusuco National Park offers endless opportunities for exploration.

Head underground into the Taulabe Caves, which extend for miles, sample the raw power of the Pulhapanzak Waterfall, where the water plunges 140ft. You may even get the chance to take a guided tour into the caves directly behind the waterfall or swim in one of the pools.

And as part of the Meso-American biodiversity hotspot, there are also plenty of exotic species lurking in the forest, such as Baird’s tapir and jewel scarab beetles.


Hiking tips

For all of these hikes you’ll need to come prepared. Sturdy walking shoes or boots, a waterproof jacket (jungles can get pretty wet at times) and a rucksack containing plenty of water and snacks are a must. Also remember, it gets colder and windier at altitude so while you might not need layers when you set off, by the time you reach the peak it could be chilly.

You’ll also want a camera to capture the sights, some sun cream for when you’re on more exposed sections and some bug spray with plenty of DEET in it.


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