Nicaragua is known as the land of volcanoes and lakes. Volcano Telica is one of most active and a great hiking trip. The fact that you can camp just below the crater made the journey all the more appealing.
Through researching online we found people who did some trekking to the volcano on their own. Aside from saving money going independently means avoiding the large tour group crowds that can kill the beauty of a place. We had been canyoning in the Somoto Canyon on our own and we were very happy with the experience, so we decided to do the same with Telica.
From Leon we took a local bus to San Jacinto, where the hike to the volcano starts. It was a short trip of only 10km at a cost of 12 Cordobas ($.50 USD). On the way to the start of the trail we were offered guide services many times, “You will get lost, it is dangerous to go alone.” they told us. We politely declined, we were up for the adventure. Arriving somewhere on your own is much more rewarding than simply being taken there.
The trail weaved around farmland, which was fenced off by barbed wire. With a combination of intuition and help from the local cowboys we were able to find our way to the volcano. A handheld GPS device would have come handy here. At the top there was a huge smoking crater mouth, 700 meters wide and 120 meters deep. In the depths you can see the glowing red magma and sulfur gas clouds coming up from the core of the earth. Just 200 meters below the rim of the crater is where we set up camp for the night.
EQUIPMENT CHECK LIST
WHAT WE LIKED THE MOST
- You can get right to the edge of the crater to see the lava and hear the magma coming from the earth.
- Great area for camping, 200 meters away from the crater, with awesome views of the erupting volcano.
WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE THAT MUCH
- We almost lost our camera down the crater!
PRACTICAL INFORMATION ABOUT HIKING TELICA VOLCANO
- Finding your way to the crater can be difficult at times. There are plenty of other tracks and it’s not always obvious which one is the right one.
- We are very experienced and even though we got lost a couple of times and had to backtrack to find our way.
- There are not many locals in the area and they only speak spanish.
- If you decide to go independently, allow extra 1-2 hours because you will need to ask for directions and/or backtrack at some point.
- You can hire a local guide in San Jacinto to show you the way.
Bring plenty of water with you. It can be very hot here and there is not much shade. You will need at least a gallon per person for this hike.
It takes between 3 and 4 hours to get to the top. But navigation is difficult, so you should allow extra time in case you get lost.
Anytime is good but the camping area can be a bit soggy. So during the dry season, December to May, is better for camping.
You need to take a bus to San Jacinto, and start the hike from there.
We climbed a few volcanoes in Central & South America (some technical ones like Cotopaxi & Chimborazo) but we were greatly surprised with Telica. There are no limits in terms of how close you can get to the crater, you could literally jump in if you want to! So there are pretty cool spots where you can see the lava from. Together with the gases and the sound of the magma coming out, makes it a really spectacular experience.
The fact that it is only 1061 meters high, also makes the camping very pleasant. There are no mosquitoes and the heat is relieved by a consistent breeze that blows at the top. And the views of the erupting volcano… are simply stunning.
Location: Telica Volcano, León. Nicaragua.
Price: 2 USD donation.
Useful Notes: It’s not very easy to find your way at times but there are some people around so you can ask for directions. A basic command of Spanish will be needed.