The key reason for the “sunset” or “twilight tour” is because you have a much better chance of seeing lava. I know I already saw lava last weekend, but I am hungry for more! It’s so cool, it’s hot!
I signed up for the tour through Quetzaltrekkers, mainly because they are a non-profit organization that puts on various hikes and donates all proceeds to helping local communities. I was very happy with their work. It was a well run hike.
After a rough hour plus ride from León with an American family from Louisville and another Canadian (no surprise there!), we got to the base of Telica. Our guide was Oscar – just kidding, his name was Sasha. He is a volunteer for Quetzaltrekkers, as most of the guides are, leading tours in León for 3 months for the experience. Pretty good experience, if I say so!
First thing we saw was a warning that we are entering an active volcano zone. We wouldn’t be able to see lava if the volcano wasn’t active!
The plan was to hike up for 40 minutes to the crater, walk around, find a good spot to watch the sunset, eat the sandwiches that the tour provides, and once it’s dark, head back to the crater to see lava. Apparently about 60% of the time you can see lava. I liked my odds.
The hike didn’t go as planned though, because there was loads of smoke coming from the crater. Sulfur gas. It stank of rotten eggs and we had to cover our mouths with our shirts for a good part of the hike, as the wind kept blowing it our way.
The hike up was interesting. Tons of rocks and rubble, all from previous eruptions. It looked like how I imagine Mars: dry and lots of red and yellow rocks.
Apparently when Telica erupts, it just sends lots of big rocks straight up and down, not lava like other volcanoes. It’s been cool learning about all the differences between volcanoes here.
We got to the top and couldn’t even see into the crater there was so much smoke! It definitely made for an adventure!
We hiked around to the back side of the crater where Sasha usually gets a good sunset view, and we were blocked of that view by a combination of clouds and the sulfur smoke.
As I told Sasha, the sun sets every day, but I don’t get to see lava very often. And yes, we were in the 60%! However briefly, when the smoke blew away, we saw lava! It was about 100 meters below us, but we saw bubbling hot lava. The sulfur smell was pretty gross and burned my eyes, but we got to see lava before hiking down in the twilight (which was cool too, by the way!
We left León at about 3pm and got back around 8pm, with a photo of lava!
Now, at Masaya you are guaranteed to see lava. This was cool in it’s own way because it wasn’t guaranteed and because of the hike and the other elements. I really didn’t mind missing a sunset. The sulfur smoke made it way more of an adventure, and that’s part of the fun of Nicaragua. Telica was my 5th volcano in Nicaragua, and every volcano has been different!