My father, a geologist, and I, an avid mountain climber, took on Volcan Conception this September in 2012.
This volcano is a difficult climb. The grade is steep from the lookout (no official place, just where you rise above the tree-line) clear to the top and will be unrelenting for the duration of your climb and will burn you on the descent. From Moyogalpa to the peak and back too me twelve hours walking.
The upper section of the volcano is scree slope, formed of small stones mixes with sand. This isn't like Cerro Negro, you cannot slide down when you are done climbing, you have to be careful with the loose stones that roll out from under your weight. If you haven't climbed a scree slope before, do not attempt to hike to the peak as this is no place to experiment with scree, it is a long way to get help.
The grade increases steadily to about 40 degrees and does not level out at any point until you reach the bottom of the crater.
Clouds swirl around the top of the volcano at times. This cuts off the sun and cools you down, but requires that you keep your group together and keep your bearings at all times. Remember the landmarks so you can find your way down again.
Between two of us, we carried three gallons of water and had very little left over after 12 hours. Snacks included a big bag of peanuts, bananas, and some local sweet rolls. Also essential is a bottle of sunscreen; the climb up the mountain is fully exposed and you will be facing the sun in the morning as you climb (if you approach from Moyogalpa) and facing the sun as you descend in the afternoon and early evening. We started at 6AM, walking out the door, and only got back by 6PM.
In short, this volcano is difficult, the view is spectacular at the top if you don't have clouds blocking it. I saw all the way to Volcan Mombacho (which was completely clear! When I climbed it, it was covered in clouds!). Alternatively, a hike to one of the foothills above the treeline gives much the same view and does not require scrambling up and down the scree slopes.
My father and I both have a bit of experience in navigation and climbing, but mostly all you need is common sense to get by. A guide will not make the volcano shorter, for most of the hike he will pick away at his nose.
We guided ourselves and fared rather well. You hike uphill when you are climbing and downhill when you are descending. No matter where you descend, you will meet the main road that encircles the mountain. This isn't like Volcan de Agua where on one side is civilization and the other, dozens of miles of forest, you're on a circular island where the mountain is near the center of that circle.
The forest is called a "cloud forest" but that's not accurate, the clouds do not filter through the forest like they do on Mombacho. Nevertheless, the forest teems with life, with millions of grasshoppers on every blade and thousands of birds singing and billions of insects buzzing all around you. You feel like you're walking amongst beehives. At one particular spot, about which I will elaborate, you can see groups of Howler monkeys hooting and hollering down at you from the trees. I even saw White-Faced monkeys further downhill from the Howler-monkey den. Keep your ears open for strange noises when you walk in these woods.
Be prepared for a very difficult hike, as difficult as a one-day hike can come without vertical rock walls, or shorten the trip to a lookout point above the tree line.
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.