I always thought that to see actual flowing lava in a volcano you would have to travel to some remote part of the World, hike for days to reach the top and only then if you were lucky with the weather would you see some glowing orange lava bubbling up from the core of the Earth. But I was so wrong! In Nicaragua you can look straight into the pit of Masaya volcano, see the flowing lava and pretend you are Frodo about to throw in the ring! All without the lenghty and tiring hike. Nicaragua might seem like a remote part of the World to some but it is pretty simple to get to and very well set up for tourists!
Masaya volcano is 635m above sea level. Masaya Volcano National Park became Nicaragua’s first national park in 1979 and it has an area of 54 km² – this includes two and five craters. This particular crater I visited has the best lava! (You can also visit the park during the daytime).
Check out my video above for some lava flowing footage of Masaya!
How much is a Masaya volcano night tour from Granda?
I paid around $18 US dollars for just the night tour and that included all transportation. Prices will vary depending on the tour company. If you are planning a full day of activites in Granda it may be worthwhile to buy a package tour that includes other sites.
How to get to Masaya Volcano
I am going to explain how I got to the volcano but I am sure there are other tours to Masaya from many towns within Nicaragua and I hear there are even short tours from nearby Costa Rica. Unless you have hired a car, I think your best option is to book a tour with a local company who can arrange your transport.
The closest major tourist town is Granada (which is lovely by the way) or Managua (I didn’t visit here). Granda is about a 40 min drive away and this is where I booked my tour. Shop around and get quotes for the Masaya volcano night tour and see which company gives you the best price. I’m not going to recommend the company I used because they picked us up late! But there were so many to chose from in Granada I think it’s best to do some research, check them out on Trip Advisor and make an informed descision yourself. Most hotels/hostels will be able to help you too. The tour is pretty basic, there’s no guide to give you information so you are really just paying for the transport.
How does the Masaya Volcano tour work?
-You leave Granda around sunset- about 5pm but could vary depending on the time of year.
-If you have chosen a a non private tour like me, you take a minibus that holds around 16 people (tour companies are likely to fill these to capacity to get their moneys worth). The journey there takes around 30-40 minutes.
-The volcano is a popular tourist destination and they are only allowed to have so many vehicles go in at one time. This is for health and safety reasons just in case the volcano was to erupt and you need to make a swift exit (don’t worry this is highly unlikely!).
-Cars and minibuses queue at the side of the road to go in. This can take quite some time depending how early your tour arrives. I think we waited 45 minutes. We were able to go outside of the minibus and get some fresh air whilst waiting.
-Once you have driven to the top you are allocated about 20 minutes to check out the volcano. Sounds short but there’s nothing else to see except the crater so 20 minutes didn’t feel too rushed.
-There are a lot of tourists annoyingly, and only a few really great spots to see the lava. But be patient and you will get to the front. I found that if you go to the right hand side of the main viewpoint there are fewer people and still good views.
Photos of Granada
Have you been here? Or anywhere else the World where you can see some fantastic volcanoes with lava? Let me know in the comments!