Masaya Volcano National Park
5 kilometers from Masaya City, there is one of Nicaragua's most popular national parks called Masaya Volcano National Park. It is one of 78 protected areas in the country and the first national park built in Nicaragua.
The largest among the others, Masaya National Park features an area as big as 54 kilometer square comprising of twin volcanoes -Masaya Volcano and Nindiri Volcano- and five craters. Masaya Volcano is a shield volcano that lies within Las Sierras pyroclastic volcano. It has a huge 6 x 11 km basaltic caldera with steep-sided walls at 300 meters high. Although Masaya is Nicaragua's shortest volcano standing at only 635 meters, it made quite violent explosions in the past. The major one took place 6,500 years ago and was concluded as one of 10 most catastrophic eruptions in 10,000 years within the region. It was also known as Popogatepe, meaning the 'Burning Mountain' in Chorotega language, thanks to its active and vicious displays.
Due to its wild activities, the local people sacrificed maidens and children in the hope of lowering the anger of the volcano Gods and getting less destruction in their area. When the Spaniards came, they placed a wooden cross called La Cruz de Bobadilla at the summit of the volcano to prevent the evils from doing their work. They also named the volcano La Boca del Infierno, which means the Mouth of Hell.
Today, Masaya is a quiet, interesting volcano that draws many visitors due to its history and easy accessibility. Its last eruption was recorded as far back as in 1772 and its twin volcano, Nindiri, was seen last active in 1670. Among the five craters, only Santiago, located between Masaya and Nindiri volcanoes, is currently active emitting sulfur dioxide gas. The other four, Masaya crater and San Fernando crater of Masaya Volcano, and Nindiri crater and San Pedro crater of Nindiri Volcano, are dormant.
Strategically located not far from the culturally rich city Masaya and the capital Managua (20 km away), it is little wonder why this national park is one of the most visited in the country. It is also a volcano that one can go without taking any hiking equipments either since you can reach the top by driving your car just off the main highway (kilometer 23).
With an entrance fee of US$ 4 per person, the park is open from 9 AM to 5 PM. Aside from housing the appealing twin volcanoes, it is also home to animals like coyotes, raccoons, iguanas, deer and monkeys. If you prefer to do a night tour, a US$ 10 fee is applied with a minimum number of 6 people joining the tour. It is held from 5 PM to 8 PM, the perfect time when you can watch the sunset and the birds coming home from feeding, and the bats leaving their caves.