There were more adventures to chose from near Leon, Nicaragua than my budget or time would allow for. With the Maribios volcanic chain stretching down the Pacific basin from the northwest to the southeast, Nicaragua has established a tourist niche that numerous operators accomodate by providing tours from a few hours to a few days. You’re never at risk of having nothing to do in this part of the country.
One of the tours I had scoped out was to Masaya Volcano near Granada to catch some lava action. High up on my bucket-list has been to witness an active volcano with flowing lava. Lately though Masaya has been so angry and smokey that lava hasn’t been visible, wrecked. This was bumming me out until I showed up in Leon and learned of lava-filled Volcan Telica.
The volcano boarding company I went through offered an efficient trip that left around 2pm and returned around 10pm that same night for $35. The ride out to Telica was in an older Land Cruiser, through what seemed more of a narrow flash flood river bank than a road. The 4-wheel drive got some serious action. I was thoroughly impressed and grateful for it as having to hike out of that remote area would have been an entirely different adventure. From the drop-off point, the hike was only an hour or so to the crater. The location of the crater is deceptively lower than expected as wind has built a higher scree mound to the S/SW side. Walking right up to the crater’s edge (no railings?! woohoo), steam billowed out of the massive hole obscuring any potential vision of lava.
Our confident guide instructed us to rest on some volcanic rocks and enjoy coffee with a treat while watching the sun set beside the chain of volcanos. Waiting until the oranges turned to blues, the group then migrated back over to the edge of the crater and laid flat on our bellies with as much of our head peaking over as we dared. As the guide had undoubtably known would happen, the steam had dissipated and a portion of the crater floor was lit up by lava.
The noise coming out of the abbiss was unexpected, perhaps similar to a jet engine at idle on a ramp. Bright red lava created a visible ring deep in the crater, constantly shifting and glowing. Even with my travel tripod, capturing the vision and doing it justice turned out to be beyond me. Even without the perfect picture though, I will always remember laying at the edge of the crater, feeling the strong wind shake me and listening to the crashes and crackles from below as the glow mesmerized me.