Virtual Volcano Vacation #81 WINNER! – San Cristobal

cristobal cover

San Cristobal volcano in Nicaragua – photo by Jaime Incer – Image found at GVP

I know I ought to take a more studious approach to selecting an appropriate volcano for a short vitual holiday…but sometimes I just enjoy cruising up and down the coast until some fine tall subduction zone stratovolcano hottie catches my eye….and then fall hopelessly in love for the next three to seven days. Each one is THE one…until the next one..but for now, it is this one in Nicaragua near the city of Chichigalpa. He is Nicaragua’s tallest and one of the most active, and in the words of Wikipedia, he erupts “frequently (if gently)”


San Cristobal is a volcanic complex of five principal edifices, starting with the center cone of San Cristobal himself, a 1,745 m high steep-sloped stratovolcano with a 500 m wide crater at his summit. To his west is El Chonco (from the first postcard) who is flanked by several lava domes. The eroded Moyotepe lies to the northeast of Cristobal, and much further east there is the caldera La Pelona. Finally, the crater La Casita sits right on Cristobal’s east flank.

His eruptions were first historically recorded by the conquering Spaniards, though his eruptive history indicates a long period of inactivity or at least not-doing-very-much that began around the end of the seventeenth century and ended in 1971. Since then, he has been doing a fairly good job of keeping his name in the news, logging 23 VEI 1-2 eruptions to date. His eruptions tend toward gaseous and explosive forcing on more than one occasion the temporary evacuation of the people living in his vicinity.

The most deadly event partially attributed to Cristobal occurred at La Casita crater. Though that part of the complex is no longer volcanically active, a large landslide and lahar caused by heavy rains from Hurricane Mitch in 1998 buried a nearby village, killing 1560 people.

cristobal lahar

San Cristobal volcano, Nicaragua – A lahar buried the towns of El Porvenir and Rolando Rodriguez on October 30, 1998, leaving behind a scar on the slope of La Casita – Image from

Cristobal was last active on 22 April of this year, erupting VEI 2 on a single day, but when he is not erupting, he is a popular destination for more experienced hikers and climbers. We are also fortunate to have not one but TWO webcams monitoring Cristobal.

Congratulations Leslie for finding me on day 3. You are quickly closing in on the leaders of the pack on the scoreboard. Next week I hope to see a few more old friends back on the hunt..and am always happy to see a new face in the Search Party. Check here again Monday when I start a new adventure at a new volcano.

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