Peeping into Telica’s massive smokey crater, Nicaragua

The sun burns my exposed skin while I am making my way among fumeroles. A slight smell of sulphur fills the hot air as we walk on a dusty trail. The backpack, stuffed with a tent, a few litres of water and some more gear to spend the night in the wild, presses on my shoulder. We are on our way to the top of the active Telica volcano in Nicaragua, in a quest to observe its massive crater.

Now and then, we are overtaken by a farmer on a horse, a few guys with machetes or a thirsty pack of dogs. The trail leads through dry farmland where cactuses pop up above the brown grass and thorny bushes appear on both sides of the path. As we continue, we gain elevation and our efforts are treated with vistas over the plain surrounding the city of Leon.

We make our way through a dry forest where we are surrounded by birds, before reaching the point from where we clearly see the rocky crater. It is so massive that the few people who are standing on its edge look like ants. Behind them, the smoke rises out of the heart of the volcano.

The last stretch up goes fast as we are eager to peep into the crater, curious to see if we are lucky enough to spot the red magma inside. From the fast rising smoke and gasses it is hard to see how deep the crater actually is. With the wind blowing the gasses straight into our nose and lungs, we step out slowly from its unstable edge that seems to be made of ashes, dust and pebbles.

I am taking in the colour of the sky which slowly changes from blue to orange and pink, contrasting with the rough and dark edges of the volcano when suddenly I hear an enthusiastic scream: “lava, lava!” I hurry back towards the crater to look inside the volcano. I look into the depth, not seeing anything at first while my friend keeps pointing into the crater with excitement. Eventually I see two small red dots, several hundreds of meters down, that get a bit easier to spot as it is getting darker.

Unfortunately, the smoke rapidly hides nature’s show, and we descend the rocky slope to find a place to pitch our tent. That night, like on the Acatenango volcano, we have the mountain to ourselves, with the bright full moon lighting up the contour of the crater next to us. An occasional explosion wakes us up, motivating us to walk up to the crater one more time at dawn to try and spot more red glow but the amount of gasses and smoke we take in make us decide it is time for our hike down its dusty slopes.

Marcella

Travel tips:

  • There are many splits on the trail and it is really marked.
  • To not get lost here, download our GPS track that is on our interactive map of Nicaragua.
  • Here is a maps.me tutorial to help you follow the trail on your smartphone, without roaming.
  • For more photos, take a visual tour!
  • Check out this interactive map for the specific details to help you plan your trip and more articles and photos (zoom out) about the area!

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