Kayaks at Laguna de Apoyo. Photo © Elizabeth Perkins.

Adrenaline Rush in Nicaragua

Athletes and extreme sports fanatics can easily meet their needs in Nicaragua. From uphill biking and scuba diving to white-water rafting and volcano boarding and everything between, here’s where to go to get your adrenaline rush.

Mount Shasta. Photo © Christopher Arns.

Northern California Getaway: Mounts Shasta and Lassen

The mountains in the far northern reaches of California are some of the most unspoiled areas in the state, protected by a wealth of national and state parks and forestlands. The most prominent features of this region are two iconic mountains: Shasta and Lassen. Both mountains make great vacation destinations, beautiful to behold and surrounded by recreation opportunities, or a fabulous weekend getaway—particularly if you’ve got a three-day weekend.

Volcán Maderas is a pleasant volcano to climb. Photo © Elizabeth Perkins.

Nicaragua’s Volcanic Landscape

Nicaragua’s nickname, “The Land of Lakes and Volcanoes,” evokes its primary geographical features: two great lakes and a chain of impressive and active volcanoes; these water and volcanic resources have had an enormous effect on its human history. The country has about 40 volcanoes, a half dozen of which are usually active at any time. Running parallel to the Pacific shore, Nicaragua’s volcanoes are a part of the Ring of Fire that encompasses most of the western coast of the Americas, the Aleutian Islands of Alaska, Japan, and Indonesia.

The carved and painted front of San Andrés Xecul's Technicolor church.

The Many Sights Near Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

The towns and villages surrounding Quetzaltenango make for some interesting day trips. Found nearby are the Santa María and Santiaguito Volcanoes, hot springs, Indian markets, colorful churches, and an exquisite crater lake.

Hikers running along the crater of Acatenango Volcano. Photo © Al Argueta.

Hiking and Biking Antigua’s Volcanoes

Antigua’s setting is spectacular, flanked on its southern extreme by the towering 3,750-meter (12,325-foot) Agua Volcano. The colossal 4,235-meter (13,044-foot) Acatenango and active Fuego Volcanoes lie to the west. The surrounding hillsides provide wonderful views of the valley and the volcanoes, and are excellent terrain hiking and mountain biking.

Visitors gazing into the main the crater of Poás Volcano.

Poás Volcano National Park, Costa Rica

There are few volcanoes where you can drive all the way to the rim. At Costa Rica’s Parque Nacional Volcán Poás you can—well, at least to within 300 meters (1,000 feet), where a short stroll puts you at the very edge of one of the world’s largest active craters. Learn about this restless giant’s history, along with trip planning tips to make the most of your visit.

View of Antigua from Cerro de la Cruz. Photo © Al Argueta.

Planning Your Time in La Antigua, The Old Guatemala

The former capital of Guatemala destroyed by earthquakes in 1773 is now known as Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rather than rebuild, the country’s aristocracy opted for a fresh start. What remains today is a pleasant mixture of Mayan and Spanish colonial influences. Plan your time around exploring the town, its ruins, museums, and churches, maybe climbing a volcano, visiting a coffee farm, and some shopping.

View from the path to Laguna Verde. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Hiking to Laguna Verde

The hike up to Colombia’s sulfurous Laguna Verde, a dazzling, emerald green crater lake on the north side of the dormant Volcán Azufral, is easy to make from Pasto. A sacred site for the Pasto indigenous people, the volcano is part of the Nudo de los Pastos mountain range and requires some preparation and an afternoon to scale.

Arenal Volcano. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Planning Your Time in Costa Rica’s Northern Lowlands

Travelers flock to Costa Rica’s northern lowlands thanks to the singular popularity of Volcán Arenal and the fistful of adventures based around nearby La Fortuna. Use this area overview to learn about the region and what more it offers, along with a bit of history and tips on planning your time.

Miravalles volcano rises above a thermal area on its SW flank. Photo © William Melson (Smithsonian Institution) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Exploring Miravalles Volcano, Costa Rica

Volcán Miravalles is enshrined within the Zona Protectora Miravalles (Miravalles Protected Zone). Landscapes here range from deep canyons licked by ancient lava tongues, with fumaroles spouting and hissing and ground covered by savannah scrub to luscious forests replete with wildlife. Expert author Christopher P. Baker talks about what to see and do, including exploring a walkable live crater and indulging in adventure travel alongside a very sophisticated resort, restaurant, and spa.