Best places to visit in Nicaragua: Our pick #4
Masaya Volcan National Park
The Masaya National Park is home to the Masaya volcano, considered to be the most fascinating natural phenomena in Nicaragua. The national park was one of the first in the country, established in 1979. 20km worth of scenic roads and trails enable visitors to get up up close to the two impressive volcanoes and five formidable craters, continuously emitting smoke and sulphur gases. The Masaya volcano is known to the indigenous Chorotega tribe as Popogatepe – “mountain that burns”. During the pre-Columbian age, the indigenous people of the region believed that the volcano’s eruptions were a sign of anger from the Gods. In order to appease the Gods and stop the eruptions, human sacrifices were offered to the volcano. Later in history, the volcano was also feared by the Spanish conquerors who baptised it ‘La Boca del Infierno’ – the mouth of hell. In order to exorcise the devil from the volcano, they planted a cross on the crater of the lip during the 16th century. Today, the national park is home to different types of vegetation and animals, including coyotes, skunks, racoons, possums, iguanas and monkeys. The Tzinaconostoc Cave is where hundreds of bats live and underground tunnels formed by lava streams offer visitors a unique look at rock formations.