Ring of Fire

It might sound dangerous, but it is also what makes vacations fun. Hiking around the Ring of Fire in Nicaragua might just be the most exciting trip you ever take. Moon.com offers a sample itinerary and information about this fiery locale in their Travel Planner: Discover Nicaragua: Hiking the Ring of Fire.

Volcano hopping, anyone? Pack some sturdy boots and hike one or all of the more than a dozen ascents detailed in this book. Nicaragua’s Maribio and Dirian mountain ranges contain both dormant and active cones, each one completely unique in scenery, difficulty, vegetation, and length. A few of these hikes have established, well-blazed trails (Mombacho and Masaya Parks are notable exceptions), many don’t.

In undeveloped-for-tourism areas, hiking means turning off the pavement, taking a poor dirt road to an even poorer one, and then entering the country’s vast network of mule- and footpaths that have connected rural communities for centuries. You’ll share the road with horses, cattle, and families walking to and from their fields. You’ll discover small adobe chapels, hidden shrines to the Virgin Mary, and cool watering holes, all on your way to or from another crater. Of course, you should always, when possible, hire a local guide, as a way to both support the community and to not get lost, both respectable goals.

Following is a quickie week-long jaunt up a couple of favorites, but after seeing the long chain of gas-streaming peaks stretching off into the horizon, you’ll realize that this is only the beginning.