Masaya Volcano and Laguna de Apoyo
I spent my last day and a half in Nicaragua in Granada, a quaint colonial town not too far from the capital of Managua. The town itself was filled with brightly colored buildings and cobblestone streets. Of course, there were also plenty of tourists wandering about as well. There were two things I wanted to see here-Masaya volcano and Apoyo lagoon, both located outside of the city.
I had only heard of the Masaya volcano through word of mouth of other travelers whom I had met earlier on my trip. How could I pass up an opportunity to peer into an active volcano and see the bubbling lava below?! Sign me up!
Masaya Volcano is located in a national park which you may only enter whilst in a vehicle. So my only option was to go with a “tour”. The volcano viewing is only open for a few hours each night, as the darkness helps to provide a nice contrast to view the fiery lava. When we got to the park entrance, we had to wait in a queue for a little under an hour. There are strict regulations on the number of vehicles allowed up on the volcano at once, since the volcano is still considered “active”. There is a slight risk that it could erupt at a moment’s notice! Because of this, all vehicles are required to park with the rear facing the volcano, to save a few precious seconds for a possible getaway!
Because it is so popular, we were only allowed about 15 minutes to view the volcano up close. As we neared the parking lot, we could see red smoke rising up in the distance. The crater of the volcano was about 400 meters deep, and I could see a pocket of lava growing bright red. I was mesmerized by the lava gurgling and flowing, the colors changing with the movement of the liquid. It reminded me of Mount Doom from the Lord of the Rings (nerdy I know haha). Soon our time was up, and I boarded back in the van with the rest of the group to head back to Granada. What an amazing experience!
Laguna de Apoyo
La Laguna de Apoyo was another place I heard from fellow travelers. They raved about how beautiful and peaceful this place was. After seeing a few pictures, I knew I had to see it for myself! It was about a 25 minute shuttle ride from the center of Granada, perfect for a day trip.
La Laguna de Apoyo is a natural lake formed in the crater of an extinct volcano. Sunken deep into the crater, the lake gives a feeling of enclosure without any claustrophobia, since it is so large. There are several small guesthouses and hostels that are set right on the lake and will let you use their premises for the day for a small fee. I decided on Laguna Beach Club, based upon reviews left on Trip Advisor.
As it was the off season, there was only one other couple at the Laguna Beach Club when I arrived, a perfect environment to relax and enjoy my last day in Nicaragua. There were several lounge chairs as well as a few kayaks and stand up paddle boards to take out on the lake at one’s leisure. The lake seemed so peaceful and calm and gave a perfect reflection of the sky and clouds above.
I decided to take a dip in the lake. The water was extremely clear and refreshing, not too cold. It all felt so clean and pure! After a bit of swimming and floating I returned to the lounge chairs to relax, alternating between there and the water-eventually giving both the kayak and stand up paddle a go. It was a great afternoon and the perfect way to wrap up my eventful and exciting two weeks in Nicaragua!