Outside the town of Masaya, Nicaragua, the Parque Nacional Volcán Masaya offers a glimpse into the smoking cone of an active volcano as well as stunning views of the area around Managua at night.
The park entrance is on the Managua–Granada highway about 4 km from Masaya. All buses between Managua, Masaya or Granada stop at the entrance. You can hike the 2-km road to the crater and back again, hitch a lift or hire a taxi in Masaya. The Dina #2 restaurant is a great place to watch the sunset.
Volcán Masaya last erupted in 1772, but it was a powerful eruption, as the depth of the crater testifies. The fumes from the crater are sulphurous, and it might be difficult to breathe as you get near.
Look out for the famous chocoyos del cráter, small green parrots that have thrived in the poisonous sulphuric atmosphere and build nests in the walls of the crater. Masaya guides will take you to the lava tubes, where you’ll see the local bats flying around after dusk.
We hired a taxi driver from Granada to take us to the park at night to see the lava flow and bats. The night tour requires a reservation, as it’s conducted by a park guide.