Total distance travelled: 37,669.3 kilometres (23,397.08 miles)
Having spent several days in Granada, it seemed only right that we also ventured a little further afield to explore some of the nearby sights, and chief amongst them was to be our 3rd volcano of the trip, Volcan Masaya. When you arrive somewhere with certain expectations, it is often difficult for the reality to match the dream.
Initially, the plan was to just catch the local bus there ourselves, but at some point I (Chris) began to feel a bit lazy, so ultimately we opted for a small splurge on a guided tour (it was more the transportation there than the guide I was interested in).
With the promise of a lovely sunset, we opted for the night tour, which meant at 3pm we were collected from outside the tour office, along with two others, both Americans, for the 30 odd minute ride to the nearby town of Masaya.
And it turns out this is where would be stopping for about an hour, as the first part of the tour was in fact not very much to do with the volcano and instead all about the rather disappointing local artisanal market.
I’m sure the market, in its pomp, isn’t so bad.
But this was Sunday, and late on a Sunday at that.
In the end we managed to convince our driver that 40 minutes was sufficient, and we were back on our way to the volcano sporting new local bracelets.
Volcan Masaya is very accessible, and it wasn’t long before we were arriving at the parking lot which is less than a stones throw from the lip of the volcano itself, which made for a nice first impression.
It was here we were forced to wait, as our guide for the next phase of the tour had not yet arrived, so it gave us ample time for views of the caldera, as well as of the surrounding countryside from our elevated position.
At this time, the sun had already began to dip behind some nearby hills, so when he did arrive it was a prompt ascent, initially by car, then with the remainder on foot where we were able to, after scrambling up some slippery volcanic scree, take in another, now dormant caldera which died when Masaya was born (they are/were fed by the same lava tube).
Disappointment however, did come from the fact that despite our rapid climb, the sunset had still been missed, and this was despite us leaving the market at least 20 minutes early!
What should really occur, is the tour departure time should slide based more on the proposed sunset time for each individual day, as opposed to one rigid timetable.
Sadly we missed it, and we made the climb earlier than any other sunset tour group.
Still, the final view was still fairly impressive…
We admired for a while, took and/or posed for a few photos before it was back to the van and on to our next, very nearby stop.
It was here that safety helmets were doled out and torches were issued, helpful for both the walk ahead in the now darkening field, but especially so for our actual destination, for we were here to explore an ancient lava tube!
Shortly, following the lead of some incredibly long and also very deep tree roots, we were beneath the earth following the same course molten lava thousands of years past.
We weren’t alone in our exploratory venture, as despite this particular tube being frequented by humans for countless generations of local inhabitants (it was at one point used as a place of worship), this particular evening our companions were much more wild in nature.
Hundreds, possibly thousands of bats!
It was incredible to feel the wind of their passing as they missed contact by millimetres, their control and awareness so incredibly good.
Our tour concluded in a somewhat optimistic manner, with us stopping at one final lookout in the hope of now, with darkness fully settled over the land, in the hope of now being able to see the ruddy glow from deep within the fires below.
It was barely discernible, so disheartened, it was back to Granada, where we were at least thankful that we weren’t either waiting for a taxi or bus in the dark, as would have been very likely had we attempted to journey there so late ourselves.
* We booked a tour to Volcan Masaya (although you’re better off doing it yourself) through Nahual Tours in Granada for $1602.00 Cordoba ($30.00 US) per person, with a 3pm departure from their office.