Five years ago, I had a chance to cross out an item on my bucket list – to be near the crater of an active volcano. It was a travel to remember.
Volcan de Masaya, is located in Parque Nacional Volcan Masaya, which is in the Western part of Nicaragua. The park was established in 1979 and is considered as Nicaragua’s first and largest national park with an area of 54 km². The park boasts of two volcanoes namely Masaya and Nandiri. Each has craters and one of which is named Santiago. It is active and continuously emits sulfur. The smell is very strong. The endless emissions of gas from the crater sent chills up my spine. It was almost like the earth’s way of breathing and letting me know that it is alive. It’s good to be reminded of this truth every now and then. Not in the form of destruction when it’s already too late, but in the form of realization while enjoying its beauty.
Also known as Boca del Infierno or The Mouth of Hell, the volcano has erupted numerous times that it was said that it had brought fear to the people. In response, the Spaniards placed the wooden cross at the summit believing it will free the volcano of demons possessing it .
Here’s the fascinating view of the landscape from the lookout point of the cross.
Visiting the volcano’s craters isn’t the only attraction this park has to offer. It, also, boasts of its rich flora and fauna. It was said that much of the vegetation and lush green appeared after the eruption. Oh how nature works!
The park is, also, inhabited by different kinds of animals. Despite our inappropriate attire, we armed ourselves with helmets and flashlights from the tour guide and took a brave trip to Tzinaconostoc Cave, a house for bats.
Along the way, we were allowed to take photos with no strong camera flash. When we finally reached the end of the cave, we were asked to turn off all sources of light and stay as quiet as possible for a few minutes. It was then that the bats started flying around us, near our faces, touching our skin. The cave houses hundreds of thousands of bats. I was all sweaty and dirty that time but it was the least of my worries. It was a mix of fear, curiosity, excitement, and amazement. It was a different world – the feel, the smell, the movements here and there, and the sounds. It was as if they were waiting for that moment of silence and darkness, which we took away from them the moment we got in. I suddenly felt guilty being there. When we turned our lights on, ready to go out, they were all gone in a snap and back to where they came from.
The tour guide said that the park offers nocturnal trips, too. I thought it would be nice to experience that and see red flames coming out of the volcanoes and/or thousands of bats flying around the park, if am lucky! Maybe I should do it when I come back.
This trip came as a surprise. As previously mentioned, we were not dressed for the occasion. What we thought would be just a leisure in the park turned out to be one of my bravest travels. What could be the best way to top this adventure but to have lunch in Los Bucaneros and enjoy the relaxing view of the Lago Masaya.
My gratitude to a good friend, Carlos, who accompanied us in this tour. A man whose passion for the environment was evident in how he speaks of it. Love the environment and it will love you back.
On this trip, I realized that the things around us shouldn’t just be enjoyed in its aesthetic beauty. It should be listened to, smelled, imagined, and felt. There is so much more than what our eyes can give us.