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Volcano Crater? Checked!

Okay, my definition of a “holiday” may not be everyone’s.

But I am not on holidays. I am traveling, backpacking, exploring… and yes, climbing stuff.

After pyramids in Mexico and the fortress in Masaya, I decided to tackle Volcán Masaya, Nicaragua’s most heavily venting volcano. And yes, you can do it without a guide—gotta love this country!

From Granada, I hopped onto one of the many Managua-bus bound and I was dropped off in the middle of the Panamerican Highway, right at the entrance of the Parque Nacional Volcán Masaya. I paid the $4 admission fee, acknowledged that it was “adventure tourism” and that I wasn’t going to sue if the volcan start erupting, and went on my way, my bag stuffed with two bananas, a litre of water and a couple of sweet breads.

I walked one kilometre to the Visitor Centre where I signed in and started the 5-kilometre steep hot climb to the crater. The paved road meandered through lava-strewn fields and forests. I passed signs warning of snakes, trees bearing beautiful flowers contrasting with the dark and desolated landscape and mountains of dark rocks.

About halfway, the trail started to become very steep and my legs were burning. Eventually, I spotted the Cross honouring the priest who went down into the volcano to find out whether the lava was pure gold (hint: it wasn’t).

The last kilometre was painful but it was worth it. Once at Plaza de Oviedo, standing right at the lip of a volcanic cone—a volatile one—, breathing sulfurous gas, was amazing. I mean, where else in the world can you do that?

“That sucks, can’t see anything with that steam!” I heard people complaining.

I loved that steam. I mean, I wasn’t exactly expecting to see bubbling lava like in the cartoons. It’s, ahem, and active volcano. Like in Niagara Falls, when you are standing right by the falls, all you see is mist. And you have to imagine how deep the crater is, and what’s going on down there.

I didn’t go check—signs naively warned me not to.

After swearing I wouldn’t walk any further, I did climb to the other cone, where the view was very different but as dramatic. It reminded me of “Mount Doom” in New Zealand.

The five-kilometre walk back to the highway was painful but I am glad I pushed my body a bit. I had zero expectations going to this National Park (as usual, it was a last minute decision I took when I realize I could do the hike without signing up for a tour) and I was blown away.

And then I had a piece of chocolate cake. Cause I fucking deserved it.

You can see the com­plete set of Nicaragua on Flickr.

On the Panamerican Highway
On the Panamerican Highway
Park Entrance
Park Entrance
Starting the Hike
Starting the Hike
Beginning of the Trail
Beginning of the Trail
So, Lava and Snakes, Eh?
So, Lava and Snakes, Eh?
Hiking To The Crater
Hiking To The Crater
Hiking To The Crater
Hiking To The Crater
Hiking To The Crater
Hiking To The Crater
Hiking To The Crater
Hiking To The Crater
Hiking To The Crater
Hiking To The Crater
Hiking To The Crater
Hiking To The Crater
Hiking To The Crater
Hiking To The Crater
Just a Burned House...
Just a Burned House…
The Last Kilometre
The Last Kilometre
The Last Kilometre
The Last Kilometre
At The Crater
At The Crater
Volcanic Ashes
Volcanic Ashes
Duh!
Duh!
The Steamy Crater
The Steamy Crater
The Steamy Crater
The Steamy Crater
The Steamy Crater
The Steamy Crater
The Steamy Crater
The Steamy Crater
The Other Volcano
The Other Volcano
The Other Volcano
The Other Volcano
The Other Volcano
The Other Volcano
The Other Volcano
The Other Volcano
The Other Volcano
The Other Volcano
The Other Volcano
The Other Volcano
Mirador
Mirador
Standing There
Standing There

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