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Central America National Park Masaya (Nicaragua)

Gates to hell. This is how the Spaniards described the crater of volcano Masaya. Well deserved. The National Park consists of two volcanoes Masaya (632m) and Nindirí, which together comprise 5 craters. The main and biggest one, crater Santiago is still very active fuming instantly smoke and sulfur into the air. Its peak is surrounded by hostile land and wide lava fields giving the impression that you are on the „Moon“. According to a legend, the original inhabitants would throw young women into the burning lava to be sacrificed to the goddess of fire „Chaciutique“. Findings of many human skeletons in the lava tunnels nearby make this legend very truthful.

Point of interest: Green parrots nest in the warm cracks of the crater walls, sometimes in the late afternoons you can actually see them circling above the „hell´s gates“.
What here: Once you pass the entrance gate, huge lava fields will spread out on both sides of a curvy road. It is about five minutes drive to the visitor´s center with bathrooms and a small interesting volcano museum. From there it is another 15 to 20 minutes drive to the main crater. You can get to the very rim of crater Santiago by car. The first thing that hits you once you get off the car is a strong wind and even stronger smell of sulfur. Should you wish to, you can climb up to the cross viewpoint (about 15 minutes) or take a longer walk around the other crater at your left (beware of snakes).

Entrance fee: 100 C.

Where to stay: Nearby the National Park Masaya is a small town of the same name. Other good options are the beautiful colonial cities León and Granada.
How to get here: Getting to Masaya is a little complicated. You either need your own transport, a cab or need to buy a trip from some travel agency in León or Granada.