Volcanos, lagoons and colonial towns: Granada and Masaya

It was a tough cycle from Managua to Masaya, as we had to cycle on the Pan-American, so imagine six lane traffic, heat and hills.

We passed the entrance to the Masaya Volcano National Park but decided to keep going as the sun was setting and we still had to find a place to stay for the night.

Sadly this amazing place was only a bar/restaurant, we would have definitely loved to stay here.

We stayed one night in Masaya, had some delicious Mexican food (Nicaraguan food isn’t exactly the holy grail of food…) and then cycled the next day on a path along the Laguna Apoyo towards Granada. On maps.me the path had one big climb but was pretty flat otherwise. Yeah… Not in real life, that was a really tough way with super steep hills.

We also weren’t actually sure if there was a viewpoint where we hoped to find one, so we kept asking the locals on the way. To be honest, I was ready to give up when the paved way turned into unpaved dirt road and we just had to push, but Hassan was convinced we’d find a viewpoint of the Laguna and we did!

The last 20 kilometers to Granada were quite a breeze. Granada is my favourite ‘urban’ area of the trip. It’s very similar to Antigua and Léon, all colonial cities, but for me Granada really has the best atmosphere and city layout with the Cathedral and the Parque Central. And great food!

The food at the Garden Café was very tasty, not too expensive and it’s just really beautiful there.

Difficult to capture but you get the idea. The best thing though was that we found a Palestinian shawarma place!!! OMG, it was soo delicious. I had been craving Arab food so much!

I really love the architecture and the colourful houses in Granada! We really enjoyed our time there, had a lovely airbnb with a beautiful garden and climbed up the churches for great views over the city.

Some chill time was very needed as well!

These cool leafcutter ants were working very hard in the garden of our Airbnb. Aren’t they fascinating?

Chasing sunsets, as usual!

We still wanted to see the volcano Masaya, so we booked a tour from Granada. And that’s where we fell deep into the tourist trap!

We just had really different expectations from reading other people’s blogs. Their hikes, how they watched the sunset and the parrots flying home and the bats, all that. So we wanted that as well. Turns out that the access to the national park is very restricted at the moment due to increased activity of the volcano. The park is also closed from 4.30 – 5.30 pm (because you pay 3$ during the day and 10$ at night as you can’t see the lava as well during the day).

Thus, all we wanted and had asked for wasn’t possible but the guy who we bought the tour from conveniently forgot to mention that. So we were really stressed hoping that we would make the sunset (of course we didn’t), then we got to the park, queued up in our van and then drove up to the crater. There was also a guide on the bus, but we don’t really know what her purpose was because she didn’t give us any information or guided us in any other way. Seeing the lava was super impressive but there were a lot of other people trying to get a picture of it and after 15 min a park ranger started blowing a whistle to get us all back into our cars. Like in a prison when you have to go back into your cell…

The car column went down and the next one went up. That was it. We felt really cheated because we had just had really different expectations, but seeing the lava was pretty cool. If you want to see an active volcano without any effort involved, Masaya is the perfect place! 😉

What was worse actually is that we also asked the tour guy about a ferry from Granada to Ometepe, which according to him was operating on Mondays and Thursdays. Turns out that company went bankrupt two years ago… The only way to get to Ometepe is to take the ferry from Rivas (San Jorge). As cycling with cramps isn’t too great, we got a chicken bus to Rivas and took the ferry to Moyogalpa. More about our island time on Ometepe in the next post!

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2 Responses to Volcanos, lagoons and colonial towns: Granada and Masaya

  1. Bill Chance says:

    Really enjoyed this post – I went to high school in Nicaragua, many, many years ago. When I lived there the Santiago (Masaya) volcano was undeveloped – it was a tough trip across the lava fields to reach the crater and there was never anyone there. I worked with a French geologist and we rappelled down into the crater to place seismographs near the vent. Very scary.

    Your view of Laguna Apoyo, is that from Catarina? One of my favorite spots. Great photos of Granada – the only city in Nicaragua I’d live in today.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Kim says:

      That’s so cool! I would have loved to see it at that time!

      Going to high-school in Nicaragua back in that time must have been an incredibly experience!

      Absolutely agree about Granada, it’s so nice there, it really makes you think about living there!

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