The Gap Year Edit Alternative Travel Awards

Forget the Golden Globes or the Oscars; I bring you … the inaugural Gap Year Edit Alternative Travel Awards!

Always wanted to know which is the most obliging animal to take a photo of? How not to speak to a bank clerk in Bosnia? Or where to fly if you want an entertaining flight?

Researched meticulously from the exclusive sample of the eight countries I visited on my 2015 travels, the GYEATAs are sure to be the next big thing in travel 😉

Whoop, whoop! [opens champagne]

Without further ado, let’s reveal the first category.

The Alternative Travel Award for “most obliging animal in a photo”

I don’t tend to photograph a lot of wildlife. Mostly ‘cos I’m too slow off the mark or don’t have the right camera lens with me at the time. However, these snaps were made all the more entertaining by the animals that make a welcome and unexpected appearance.

The nominees are:

Happy dog, Scarborough, Yorkshire, England (December 2015)

Ducks in a row, Selva Negra, Nicaragua (February 2015)

Curious iguana, Miami, Florida, USA (January 2015)

And the Award goes to …

Dog? Iguana? Dog? Iguana?

The dog, of course! He’s fluffy and cute, and posed for ten minutes straight, despite not being my dog!

The “most entertaining flight” Award

I took 11 flights in 2015, with Easyjet being my most-flown airline for trips to Lisbon, a one-way to Split, and back from Dubrovnik. My experiences with them were pretty straightforward – you know what you get and it’s good value. These flights, however, were slightly more unconventional:

Flight over the volcanoes with Air La Costeña. Managua to San Carlos, Nicaragua (February 2015).
Entertaining for: Its beauty. And the small plane.

Belfast, Northern Ireland to Liverpool, England with FlyBe (December 2015).
Entertaining for: The diversion. We were meant to be flying to Leeds.

London, England to Miami, Florida, USA – return flight with Virgin Atlantic using my air miles, and with only the taxes to pay. (January/March 2015).
Entertaining for: being free, free, free!

The verdict?

The diverted flight wasn’t too painful and the free flight was of course wonderful (especially as I had four seats just for me on the outbound journey), but the winner of The Gap Year Edit Alternative Travel Award has to be …

The 12-seater Cessna flight over the volcanoes on/in Lake Nicaragua, from the capital Managua, to the outpost and gateway to the Rio San Juan, San Carlos. Now, if only I hadn’t packed my camera away …

You’ll just have to use your imagination to figure it was pretty cool to fly over these:

The “worst attempt to speak a foreign language” Alternative Travel Award

My Spanish improved no end after Spanish language school, and I do TRY and speak a few words of the local lingo when I’m in another country. Success is a whole other story.

With that in mind, the award nominations are:

Attempting Bosnian

At the bank in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Hercegovina. I was clutching inordinately large denominations of local currency, and gushing forth in appallingly pronounced Bosnian: “Change. Small. Please.”

Reply from bank clerk: “You can speak English”.

Phew!

Spanish fail

On a kayak in the middle of Lake Nicaragua, mid-conversation with my guide:

Me: “I will be windy this afternoon”

Cue confused look and a very polite “si”.

Ah. IT will be windy, Julie … IT.

Note to self: Do not try to be a clever-***e with the future tense.

The wrong language

Lisbon, Portugal – I told my friends I’d meet them at the mirador (viewpoint), and couldn’t understand why they looked bemused. Turns out I’ve incorporated random Spanish words into my English vocab – oops! Spanish word to English friends in Portugal. Serious fail!

The Gap Year Edit Alternative Travel Awards - worst attempt to speak a foreign language - Lisbon, Portugal

It’s a wonderful mirador!

The Alternative Travel Award goes to … Bosnian. It reminded me to not take language skills for granted.

Just because the bank clerk and the Sarajevans I talked to – as your average tourist – had very admirable English skills, it would’ve been presumptuous to assume everyone did.

Plus, I like to think my horrific attempt at Bosnian at the very least gave them a laugh for the rest of the afternoon.

Bank vocabulary aside, I could at least make a decent effort to order coffee in Bosnian 🙂

The “most surreal attraction” Award

Turns out there are a fair few of these kicking around, surreal for different reasons.

El Castillo, Nicaragua (March 2015).
Surreal because: it’s a full-on bona-fide castle … in the middle of a jungle.

The Gap Year Edit Alternative Travel Awards - most surreal attraction - El Castillo, Nicaragua

El Castillo. Built as protection from marauding British pirates.

The Forbidden Corner, Yorkshire, England (October 2015).
Surreal because: It’s an interactive 3D adventure with tunnels, gardens and clues to solve. Words can’t describe it.

Coral Castle, Florida, USA (January 2015).
Surreal because: a man made his home single-handedly, by carving chunks of coral rock.

And the winner of the Alternative Travel Award is …

The Forbidden Corner. If it’s impossible to describe (despite me having visited three times over the years), it must be surreal. Love it, love it, love it!

The Gap Year Edit Alternative Travel Awards - most surreal attraction - The Forbidden Corner, Yorkshire

The Forbidden Corner. Even its own website describes it as “The Strangest Place in the World”.

The “worst sound to be woken up by” Alternative Travel Award

Just to clarify, I LIKE monkeys, buses and helicopters. They’re just not my fave things to hear at 5am, that’s all.

The nominees are:

The Gap Year Edit Alternative Travel Awards - worst sound to be woken up by - chinook, York

A chinook – not a great noise to wake up to

Howler monkeys. Boca de Sábalos, Nicaragua (March 2015). Has T-Rex come to get me in my log cabin?!

The very loud horn of the chicken busanywhere in Nicaragua (January to March 2015)

A Chinook helicopter delivering supplies to help save York, England, from further flooding (December 2015)

The Alternative Travel Award winner would’ve been the bus, but the chinook pipped it at the post.

Not only are chinooks VERY loud, but the circumstances around it being there were pretty rubbish as well. York is now clearing up, and the city is very much open for business. Thanks to our RAF and local community for making it so!

The “best gallery/exhibition” Alternative Travel Award

Forget the big national galleries, this was about some unexpectedly incredible exhibitions in locations you might not expect.

Centro de Arte Fundación Ortíz-Gurdián, León, Nicaragua (February 2015). There was a Picasso exhibition on when I was there. But even without it, this is a seriously impressive modern art gallery, by any country’s standards.

TPOTY, London, England (August 2015). Travel photographs. Sigh. One of the photos even made me want to go to Yemen – at least when the country finds peace again. This is an annual exhibition, so watch out for it next year.

David Hockney exhibition, Salts Mill, Yorkshire, England (May 2015). Paintings done on an iPad, throughout the seasons. Hockney’s a genius at making art accessible. The exhibition is still on!

The winner of the Alternative Travel Award is …

Can I pick all three? Yup, they’re my Awards, so I can do what I like 🙂 They were all fantastic and I’d go again in a heartbeat.

The “weather fail” Alternative Travel Award

There was rain, and then there was more rain. Fortunately not on all my travels, but the weather made a couple of unwelcome appearances in 2015.

The Gap Year Edit Alternative Travel Awards - weather fail, Mostar, Bosnia-Hercegovina

Mostar. Positively dry compared to the previous day

Mostar, Bosnia-Hercegovina (October 2015) – the rain was so heavy on my first afternoon there that I couldn’t face leaving my accommodation to walk the five minutes to the famous bridge!

Dubrovnik, Croatia (October 2015) – when it rains heavily, Dubrovnik’s bus station – which looks pretty new – has a roof that is NOT waterproof. Serious architecture fail. Rubbish roof + delayed bus = soggy Julie.

York, England (December 2015). It flooded. Did I mention that already?

The winner (or loser!) is … Dubrovnik’s bus station. C’mon. Who builds a bus station with a roof that doesn’t keep water out? 

The Alternative Travel Award for “most interesting conversational experience”

I’ll sum this up in one word: “Nicaragua”.

The Nicaraguans are wonderful conversationalists.

There was Jorge, the retired biologist in Matagalpa, who conversed about Margaret Thatcher, Nicaraguan politics and chickens over the course of an hour wandering together (me on foot, him on horseback), before he picked me some fresh mandarins. As you do.

Not forgetting Carlos the former revolutionary in León – it’s not every day you get to meet an actual revolutionary and get the off-piste part of the museum tour. Or to hold a bazooka.

The Gap Year Edit Alternative Travel Awards - best conversation - Nicaragua

Carlos showing me a pic of him in action during the Nicaraguan revolution

Or Jorge the coffee picker, who suddenly announced in perfect English (mid conversation in Spanish): “I study English through a correspondence course with the University of Birmingham in the UK”. Er … you do what, now? Seriously humbling.

If you want a good natter, where pretty much no topic is off limits, Nicaragua’s the place to go!

There you have it, the conclusion of the inaugural Gap Year Edit Alternative Travel Awards. What new categories would you add for next year? Would you have let the iguana win? Share your ideas below!

How to pack for backpacking Central America

From T-shirts to travel towels, torches to trousers, read on to find out how to pack for backpacking Central America and other tropical destinations.  We’ve got it covered …

Tips on how to pack for backpacking

  • Save space – and the hassle of trying to find an iron – by rolling your clothes instead of folding them
  • Remember you can launder. For a two-week trip you don’t need to take 14 T-shirts. Take a small travel hand wash or send clothes to the laundry for (the equivalent of) only a few dollars
  • Skip the white / best clothes if you’re going to a developing country – you can’t guarantee hot water will be on-tap to get your whites sparkly
  • A lightweight sarong can be used as a pretty scarf, a beach cover-up, or an improvised towel. Take one!
  • In some countries it’s best to save shorts for the beach; knee-length skirts or trousers work well elsewhere. Check your guidebook on clothing etiquette.

My trip backpacking in Nicaragua, Central America

Two months backpacking in Nicaragua, including two weeks in language school. Overall, this was a reasonably active trip.

I needed clothing suitable for hiking volcanoes and other outdoor activities, experiencing the rainforest in the south-east of the country, exploring the scorching hot cities, visiting the cooler highlands, and relaxing by the beach.

How to pack for backpacking Central America

lightweight clothing works well for those jungle endeavours!

My flights

Luggage limits are a consideration when considering how to pack for backpacking.

My flights were with Virgin Atlantic from London to Miami; then onward from Fort Lauderdale with budget airline Spirit to Nicaragua. I returned from Nicaragua to Miami with American Airlines.

Spirit is the strictest on luggage limits both in the cabin and in the hold (15kg is the cheapest hold luggage option and the one I opted for, you pay more if you want more). Details of the exact dimensions and weights of permitted luggage can be found on the airlines’ websites.

My packing list for backpacking Central America

How to pack for backpacking Central America

packing Armageddon!

After packing Armageddon had hit my bedroom floor, here’s what I packed for my trip to the tropics.

Clothes  bottoms

  • 1 pair jeans
  • 1 pair light long casual trousers for hiking that could be rolled up to 3/4 length
  • 1 pair cotton/linen light three-quarter length trousers – ideal for cities or hiking
  • 1 pair shorts (for the beach only)

Clothes – tops

  • 1 kagool – good for those tropical showers!
  • 2 light sweaters (serious error, 1 would’ve been enough)
  • 1 x long-sleeved T-shirt (ideal for the highlands, or for avoiding sunburn or mosquitoes)
  • 5 x short-sleeved T-shirts (1 of which got so engrained with dust I had to banish it)
How to pack for backpacking Central America

Lightweight trousers – check. Super versatile handbag – check. Top that hides the dirt – onto a winner!

Clothes – underwear

  • 3 bras
  • 8 pairs quick-dry underwear
  • 3 pairs hiking socks

Shoes and accessories

  • 1 pair hiking boots (closed-toed footwear is pretty much essential for hiking in countries that have tropical wildlife as well as tropical temperatures)
  • 1 pair flat sandals
  • 1 lightweight scarf
  • 1 sarong – you can also use sarongs as a cover-up/substitute beach towel
  • 1 woolly hat and 1 pair gloves – handy for the top of a blustery volcano!
  • 1 bikini
  • Microfibre travel towel

Books / guides

Electronics

  • 2 x UK/World adaptors
  • Apple Mac laptop and sleeve – for my writing, hopefully most readers won’t need to take a laptop!
  • Mobile phone
  • E-reader
  • Chargers for laptop, phone, E-reader
  • Camera with small tripod and spare battery

Toiletries and other girlie essentials

  • Toiletries – all in small bottles apart from the following:
    • Sun screen (available in Nicaragua, but it’s fairly expensive)
    • Contact lens solution (only available from opticians in Nicaragua, not pharmacies; and at a price)
    • Shower gel (not readily available in Nicaragua, though the choice of available soap will astound you when you run out!)
  • Tampons (not readily available in Nicaragua)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Razor
  • First aid kit which included: antihistamines, plasters, antiseptic wipes, imodium, rehydration sachets, ibuprofen, tweezers, insect repellant with DEET
  • Make-up (SPF foundation, lipstick, eye liner, blush)
  • 2 beaded necklaces – a girl’s gotta accessorise!

Miscellaneous

  • Swiss army knife with essentials such as a corkscrew and miniature scissors
  • Head torch – developing countries don’t always have reliable electricity supplies. Plus there are caves to explore!
  • Small umbrella
  • Glasses
  • Sunglasses
  • Watch (my 8-year-old £50/$75 watch was VERY up-market by local standards and I wish I’d taken a $10 market cheapie)
  • Earplugs – essential for developing countries to avoid being woken up by chickens/pomping horns at 5am (or earlier!)
  • Paperwork – US ESTA, copy of travel insurance, spare copy of passport photo page and flight details

and not forgetting …

Postcards to show people where I live

How to pack for backpacking – luggage

How to pack for backpacking Central America

My rucksack just before returning home – there was room for a hammock 🙂

One 65l rucksack backpack, packed two-thirds full. If you’re anything like me you’ll need space to bring back a hammock 🙂

Day pack rucksack

Waterproof versatile handbag big enough to fit in my camera, guidebook, sun screen and money

Small purse/wallet with dollars in small bills (or relevant exchangeable currency), credit card, passport, travel insurance details and phone number, drivers licence

Dirty laundry bag

What else do I wish I’d packed in my backpack?

A zoom lens for my camera, and binoculars. I’d have loved to have viewed and captured Nicaragua’s prolific wildlife in more depth and scale. Next time … next time …

What are your best tips on how to pack for backpacking Central America? What do you wish you’d taken, or left behind?

Reverse culture shock: Why aren’t complete strangers talking to me, and where are all the chickens?

From chickens to clothes to children, strangers to straighteners to Spanglish … after two months in Nicaragua, I’m experiencing a little dose of reverse culture shock back here in the UK.

Reverse culture shock 1: From morning person to night owl

reverse culture shock Nicaragua to the UK

Chickens. Still not missing them.

I’m quite happy not being woken up by chickens, monkeys and the 6am bus pomping its horn outside my window – all of which were a common occurrence in Nicaragua. But, and who thought I’d ever admit this – I’m kind of missing being up and about at first light.

In Nicaragua my daily rhythm was far more in tune with the natural rise of the sun – 6.30/7am mornings were my new norm. I even felt bright-eyed and bushy tailed.

In the UK? My alarm went off at 6.30am yesterday morning, and it took me a full half hour to open my eyes properly and even contemplate disentangling myself from my duvet. After finally succeeding, I staggered to my kitchen to make myself a good cup of coffee. Nicaraguan, of course.

Reverse culture shock 2: From five T-shirts to a whole wardrobe

reverse culture shock Nicaragua to UK

I have a whole wardrobe to choose from, not just the contents of this fella

My wardrobe choices are no longer based on, “which of my items of clothing are the least dusty?” Clearly, this sounds wonderful. But there’s something that now feels a little bit wrong about being faced with a whole wardrobe of clothes to choose from. Do I really need all this stuff?

I went out for lunch for a friends’ birthday the other day, and it took me half an hour to choose what to wear. For lunch! What’s that all about?

Travel keeps me low maintenance, and by returning to the western world of plenty I’ve automatically gone up a notch on the scale. The joy I experienced at being reunited with my high heels and hair straighteners made me feel … how can I put it … a bit shallow. But at the same time? So goooooood.

Reverse culture shock 3: From creating a fake life story – in Spanish – to, errrrrr, not!

“Oh, I was travelling with my boyfriend here for two weeks. But he had to go back to England. For work.”

Or so went the tale according to me, after being asked for the gazillionth time why I was travelling alone, and receiving numerous confused looks upon explaining I was happy doing so and I liked it.

Or – my particular fave – being asked why I didn’t have children.

The answer to that one?

“Me and my (imaginary) boyfriend have only been together six months, so it’s too soon for children at the moment.”

Seemingly not in Nicaragua, as the vehement looks and comments of disagreement told me!

It was at this point my inner voice would scream: “Arrrrrrgh, aaarrrrrrgh, arrrrrrrrrrgggghhhh! He doesn’t exist! I just made him up because I don’t want to appear any more strange than a five foot ten sort-of red-headed white girl travelling alone on a chicken bus already does, without getting into a whole debate in Spanglish about my wishes / non-wishes for children!”

reverse culture shock: Nicaragua to the UK

Ask me why I’m travelling alone / don’t have children. Go on, dare ya!

Deep breath.

Instead, I just smiled sweetly, and ordered another chicken tortilla from the nearest vendor.

Anyway, I’m not missing the regularity with which complete strangers ask me such questions about my private life.

However, I AM missing the level of interaction and chattiness that’s common in Nicaragua.

I MISS hearing those revolutionary tales – I was incredibly humbled by what ordinary people had gone through.

The only voices I hear on the London Underground are those of us from more northerly reaches of the British Isles, and tourists debating which branch of the Northern Line they need.

I mean, seriously, what’s the matter with you all? Ask me how old I am and why I don’t have children, damn you!!!

Have you experienced reverse culture shock when returning home? Share your stories below.

Why my career break makes me a better employee

Wow, what an incredible nine months it’s been. I’ve travelled, volunteered, got to grips with all things digital, and more. It’s a story that can’t be told purely by a list of bullet points, though I’m going to try …

Back in July, I wrote down what I wanted to achieve on my career break. On paper, I’ve succeeded at most. But the overwhelming feeling of what my career break has given me isn’t on that original eight-bullet-list.

Instead, it’s one of an ability to see things with new eyes.

Why my career break makes me a better employee. New eyes at Meteora, Greece.

Gaining a fresh perspective of the Meteora monasteries in Greece, October 2014

To see new opportunities as well as new places.

To adapt my preferred learning style to get the results I wanted.

To see the value in online communities as well as those existing in the “real world.”

To get over my reluctance of “bigging myself up” and proactively shout about my achievements and things I’m proud of … a reluctance I was only ever previously able to put aside for job interviews.

Having new eyes has made me more resourceful, and has pushed my existing creativity up a notch or three.

Here are some of my career break highlights, and why I believe these experiences make me a better employee.

I built a self-hosted website, despite not being “techy”

Am I a tech guru? No.

After more than a few head-fuzz moments through market research, analysis of other websites I liked/didn’t like, picking out features I wanted, researching how to get those features, asking questions and participating in forums, digesting multiple pieces of information, getting my head around SEO, and cursing my computer, The Gap Year Edit and its assorted social media channels were born!

Why this makes me a better employee

In “core skills on my CV” terms, digital marketing is now on there. On the technical side, I certainly don’t claim to know all the answers, but with a little resourcefulness and a healthy application of my Prince2 Project Management principles, I can certainly make it happen!

I travelled solo in developing countries and where English language skills were rare

Despite people’s fears that I was going to become a drug lord’s moll or kidnapped by the mafia (the likelihood of both being grossly exaggerated media hype) I had a wonderful time in both Nicaragua and Albania.

I survived perfectly well without hot water for four consecutive weeks in Nicaragua (although I did revel in a hot shower when I arrived home), and had more than a few pass-the-phrasebook and pidgin German/Italian/French conversations in Albania.

In both I managed to find places to stay, cool locals to talk to, a wealth of sites to see, and good food to eat.

And all without being mugged, trapped by a death-defying volcano, killed by a chicken bus, pickpocketed, or otherwise accosted.

Why my career break makes me a better employee. Volcan Telica.

I survived this smokin’ volcano!

In Nicaragua, I also improved my Spanish language skills – you can read more about that here.

Why this makes me a better employee

I embrace versatility and adaptability, and don’t view people or places that are “different” as being negative.

As a very wise mantra says: a country’s duty is to make its citizens feel comfortable.

This willingness to adapt, and even keep a smile on my face after six hours on a chicken bus, is one that’s very handy for dealing with any number of workplace situations and personalities.

I’ve found new ways to make money

OK, not exactly enough to retire on (or fund too many pairs of amaaaaazing Kurt Geiger shoes), but still …

I wanted to explore alternative ways to earn part of my income in the future. My blog has earned a (very) small amount over the last couple of months, and I’m set up with a spot of freelance marketing / communications work too. I now have a short- to medium-term plan for future blog developments (e-books and more), and a medium- to long-term plan for property rental.

Why this makes me a better employee

Entrepreneurial skills have got to be a bonus, right? This time away from my “regular work” means my mind’s been opened up to all sorts of creative possibilities, and I’ve worked out ways to achieve them. I mean, who thought I’d ever want to write a book?

I’ve gained experience in new sectors

I’ve helped a National Charity with their press coverage to aid their fundraising, built an on- and off-line network in the travel sector, and done a spot of freelance travel writing.

Why this makes me a better employee

I’ve shown that my marketing and communications skills are transferrable across industries and sectors.

I’ve learnt to say: “look at me!” (sometimes)

Why my career break makes me a better employee

Spotlight on me … at Albania’s Gjirokaster Castle

If you’d asked me to write this post a year ago I’d have run a mile. “Write about myself, in a big-me-up fashion??” I’d have questioned, whilst shiftily scanning the room for the nearest exit and mentally donning my running shoes. Hell, it might’ve been my first ever half-marathon by the time I’d finished running.

It’s been tricky. After 15 years producing marketing and communications materials that reflect companies’ personalities rather than my own, it’s been a slow adjustment to write in my own voice, rather than those of the companies I’ve worked for.

I can tell I’ve cracked it, because my “own voice” musings mean I now get occasional disapproving texts from my mum 😉

Why this makes me a better employee

I’ve not lost my ability to write in a more corporate tone, or in the voice of Exec types; but my habitual writing repertoire now has another notch on the versatility scale.

My next work challenge

If you’re looking for an experienced marketing and communications professional, I’d love to hear from you. You can find out more about me and get in touch via my LinkedIn profile.

I’m looking for Yorkshire-based freelance or fixed-term contract work, although I would consider a permanent role offering a four-day-week.

For opportunities to work with The Gap Year Edit, click here.

For more on career breaks and how to go about planning yours, head on over to the planning pages.

Have you taken a career break? Did it give you a different perspective when you returned to work? How were you perceived by recruiters and recruiting managers? Share your stories in the comments below.

How to visit volcanoes in Nicaragua without breaking (much of) a sweat

If you’re after large dose of volcano without an overdose of activity, here’s how to visit volcanoes in Nicaragua without breaking (too much of) a sweat.

If volcanoes are your world then Nicaragua is your oyster. Situated where the Caribbean and Cocos tectonic plates collide, the country is home to some 19 volcanoes, at least three of which have erupted since 2007!1

As a visitor, your volcano-ventures can come as with as much or as little adrenaline as you want, all with a side-order of stupendous photo opportunities.

Volcano-lite: Admire the volcanoes of Nicaragua from a distance

Grab a view point and admire those smoking summits from a distance. Top locations for spotting volcanoes in Nicaragua from a distance include:

The roof of León cathedral (entrance fee $3)

visit volcanoes in Nicaragua - view from Leon cathedral

It’s a volcano-tastic view from Leon cathedral

The ferry from San Jorge to the twin-volcanoed Volcán Concepción and Volcán Maderas island of Ometepe (ferry cost $2-3), or cycling / kayaking around Ometepe (kayak rental around $5 p/hr or $15 p/day)

The flight from Managua to San Carlos with La Costeña (around $75 one-way)

Stretch your legs at Volcán Masaya

You can drive right up to the crater of smoky Volcán Masaya; and hike a further 20 minutes or so in a couple of different directions (one of which is steep) to see the crater from above. Time it for sunset for some monster vistas.

visit volcanoes in Nicaragua - Volcan Masaya at sunset

Volcan Masaya at sunset. Oh yes.

Sunset’s also the time for checking out the lava-tube caves, home to thousands of bats.

visit volcanoes in Nicaragua - Volcan Masaya lava tubes

lava tubes at Volcan Masaya. Pretty cool.

Tours (around $15) combine sunset and caves for a spooky and smoky adventure.

Workout in the dark at Volcán Telica

The Telica sunset tour (around $25-40, depending on number of participants) features some hiking, a spectacular sunset and red-hot lava. It’s a popular choice from León.

Telica’s road access could be generously described as a 4WD dirt road. Expect bumps. Large bumps.

After the spine-shattering journey, you’ll be ready for an uphill jaunt. 45 minutes of up on the exposed (read: hot) trail brings you to the smoking crater, with views out to other volcanoes in Nicaragua that make up the Ring of Fire.

A further 20 minutes hike and you’re at a stupendous sunset view point, with the orange and red light of the setting sun filling the valley floor below to the brim.

Then it’s back up to the crater (another 20 minutes or so) to see the distant glowing lava in the crater below, before completing a torch procession back down the path in the dark.

More active adventures

For more active escapades involving volcanoes in Nicaragua, you can summit the 1,700 metre+ Volcán Concepción on the island of Ometepe, volcano board down the black ash of Cerro Negro, or trek the 1,300 metre+ peak of Volcán Mombacho.

Whether your desire is to conquer or to photograph, between Nicaragua’s 19 volcanoes, there’s sure to be one for you!

1. Source: Wikipedia.

Have you visited an active volcano? Where was it, and what made the experience memorable? Share your story below.