Nicaragua is proud of its volcanoes. We visited this one on a half-day trip from Granada. It's not every day you can look down into a steaming volcanic crater. And you don't even have to hike. You just drive right up to the edge. If you go at night, you can sometimes see glowing lava, but we went during the day and it was still cool. Plus they give you orange hardhats to wear, which my son thought was the best part. On the way up to the crater we stopped to see plumeria blossoms (the national flower) and spotted a motmot (the national bird). We did our trip with Tierra Tours, and our guide's name was Carlos. Carlos gets a big thumbs-up.
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Sulfer and Smoke at Volcan Masaya
"Park facing out." This is what the signs say on parking spaces at the top of Volcan Masaya (yes, you can drive to the top). Y'know, just in case you need to make a quick getaway...
Masaya is most definitely an active volcano. We visited on a cloudy day, so the gasses and vapor were thick and swirling, obscuring the bubbling hot lava down below. The smell of sulfur is strong, and the whole experience leaves little room to wonder why the Spaniards called this volcano the "gates of hell."
Parque Nacional Volcan Masaya is a short ride from Masaya, Managua or Granada. It was a highlight of our trip for sure.