Day Trip to Masaya
My husband, Kharron, works for an American company, which means he gets American holidays off work. We try to use these days to our advantage and spend the day sight seeing parts of Nicaragua.
I purchased a Lonely Planet’s guide to Central America and referenced for ideas on what we should see in Masaya. I had only 3 things on my list because we are learning that in Nicaragua you don’t want to plan too much or you end up disappointed or driving home after dark, which is never recommended.
First stop was the Fortaleza De Coyotepe. This fortress was constructed in 1893 by president Zelaya. Built so his troops could easily see enemies approaching and to protect Masaya from the US Marines. During the Somoza family regime, a dungeon was constructed underground below the fortress. The dungeon was used as a political prison and torture chamber. The prisons were very dark and sometimes held more than 800 people. The Sandinistas also used the fortress as a prison before giving it to the Boy Scouts who opened it to visitors.
For $2 per adult, you can walk around the top and get a great view of Masaya and tour the dungeons. There is also a small museum. I hear there are tours, but we were not offered so we did not get one.
Next stop was to see the active volcano at Parque Nacional Volcan Masaya. Named by the Spaniards as the gates to hell, this is the most heavily venting volcano in Nicaragua. For some reason you are allowed to drive right up to it, which also makes it the most accessible.
For $4 you can spend a few minutes at the rim of the volcano, named Plaza de Oviedo, after the 16th-century Spanish monk who descended into the crater to collect lava which he suspected was liquid gold, and came back alive. For between C$10 and C$20 more, you can take a guided walking tour along the trails that lead to some other great views, other craters, and to the Tzinaconostoc Cave where hundreds of bats live. There are horse tours offered for an additional $4 as well.
On our way home we went by the Masatepe to see the wood furniture stores. We thought we needed to go into town to see all of them, but really they are all off the main road on the way into town. The furniture is really beautiful and a lot of choices of type of wood and styles. Great place to go if you’re furnishing a house here in Nicaragua and are interested in shipping large items back to your home country.