Nicaragua is known for volcanoes. There are 19 throughout this small Central American country. Each volcano has a specialty in regard to adventure travel. The specialty for visiting the Masaya Volcano is staring down into the crater and seeing molten lava. You cannot loiter long though as fifteen minutes is your limit.
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Masaya Volcano is the closest to Managua
The Masaya Volcano is the most accessible volcano in the country due to its proximity to Managua and Granada. The town of Masaya is located almost halfway between Managua and Granada. It is easy to secure tours from either Managua or Granada. Since not many people stay long in Managua, Granada is probably a better hub to visit the active volcano.
Related: Hiking Concepcion Volcano on Ometepe
Tours leave at night
The best time to visit the Masaya Volcano is at night in order to easier see the lava. During the day, the volcano can be seen for miles around thanks to the smoking miasma billowing out of the blown out crater. I could even see this phenomenon from the top Concepcion Volcano on Ometepe Island.
I stayed at Hostel El Momento. They offered a tour for $25.00. The tours left every day at around 4 p.m. I paid them and secured my spot. There are numerous tour agencies in town. If there are not enough people in the hostel going on the tour, they just outsource to another agency.
Picked up at the hotel
I was picked up at the hostel in a mini van. There was a couple from Amsterdam and a family from Wyoming already in the van. The van had air-conditioning, which is key even at night in Nicaragua.
Hike and Visitor Center
It takes about 45 minutes to get there. The driver and guides need to check in with the park. There was a long line to do this, so we were able to hike into the park along the ride while they waited in line. It was sunset, so we were able to get some nice pictures of the lowlands below the volcano.
We then had about 45 minutes to spend in the Visitor’s Center once it got dark while we were waiting for our time on the crater. The Visitor’s Center had a lot of information on the Masaya Volcano, creatures that lived inside the park, Nicaragua, and other volcanoes in the country.
Once we were done in the Visitor’s Center, it was our turn for 15 minutes of volcanic fame. We got back into our van, and they drove us to the top of the volcano.
Masaya Volcano lava
At the rim of the volcano were barriers like one would see at Grand Canyon or Zion. We lined up along the railings and peered down into the volcano to see the red glow of the lava. I felt like I was in a Lord of the Rings movie. There were a couple of vantage points to see the molten lava.
Fifteen minutes was plenty of time. It was really amazing to see the molten lava, but after staring at it for ten minutes, I was ready for a tona. We got back into van and drove back in Granada knowing that our 15 minutes of fame on top of the Masaya Volcano was well spent.
The author visited Masaya Volcano in March of 2018 before the political crisis. I would not recommend visiting Nicaragua at this time. Please check the U.S. State Department for current travel information or your country’s travel warnings for more information.