Today was going to be pretty action packed and we were very excited about exploring Granada as the town had looked so fun and vibrant when we had arrived on the bus and walked through.
Our excellent hosts had given us some great advice as to what to do over the next couple of days and so we started with a local breakfast at our local restaurant. Eggs, tomatoes and rice and beans. We must be getting used to the filling breakfasts here as we both found it delicious, especially when it’s washed down with a melon juice. Way too hot here for a coffee, we noticed that even the locals are sticking to colder drinks.
Filled and ready for the day we set off for a stroll around town. Having been to a few colonial towns so far I have to say that Granada has been the most authentic for me and certainly the most impressive in a natural way. While there is a touristic influence, the town still seems to function as a working town and most of the buildings seem to be original.
I reckon we could have walked around for days admiring all the different coloured buildings and the old churches but the heat was pretty oppressive and we found ourselves hugging the shady sides of the streets and taking refuge in the old churches.
I can’t get over how wonderful the town is we both very much fell in love.
We had been told to try “vigaron” for lunch which was a local specialty. The dish originated with two old ladies selling the dish outside the local baseball ground and one of them decided to get an edge by calling the dish “vigor on” as in get your vigor on. The name has stuck and the dish is made of mashed yucca, pork rind and spicy coleslaw all wrapped in a banana leaf. Our new favourite.
The afternoon plan consisted of going on a tour to the top of a nearby volcano called Mombacho. We had to book a tour apparently but were not really sure what to expect. It turns out that there are some definite benefits to travelling during the quiet time as it was just the two of us on the tour so off we set with our private guide and our driver!!
Mombacho is just outside of Granada and is a dormant volcano made up of four main vents. The top of all four vents blew off a few hundred years ago so it doesn’t look like a volcano in the classic sense and it’s absolutely covered in cloud forest. The drive up was done in a four wheel drive truck which managed to get us up one of the steepest inclined roads I have ever seen. We climbed 1000 metres so were glad we didn’t have to walk it!
Once at the top our guide, Alberto, gave us a good education about volcanos and a history of Nicaragua thrown in too. It was all very interesting and the walk was great too as the temperature had dropped about ten degrees. It wasn’t a strenuous walk at all and we just circumnavigated one of the vents.
The first highlight was a viewpoint where we got a great view of Granada, Laguna de Apoyo and Les Isletas sitting on Lake Nicaragua. The area is absolutely stunning and made Granada look so amazingly small. We were lucky to be there on such a clear day and Alberto pointed out a few more of the volcanoes including the very active volcano Masaya, lake Managua, the city of Managua and the ranges beyond that. We were very lucky with conditions and very lucky to have our private guide.
On the stroll back two main things happened. Firstly we came across a Sloth with a baby. It was during the heat of the day so there was absolutely zero movement and in fact due to the fact that a path had been worn on the way to and from where the sloth was I don’t think it had moved for quite a while. Still it was great to see such a unique and brilliantly weird animal.
The second thing that happened was that we started finding out more information about the Volcano Masaya which had apparently been closed up until four months ago but was now open to the public once again. He claimed that we would be able to see lava and Sarah’s eyes practically popped out of our head and we decided to go on a night tour to see it.
So it was quickly back to town and we had just enough time to throw some vigaron down our necks before we had to be back on the next tour. Once again it was just us with our private guide.
Access to the volcano was limited to just 15 mins per car and everyone was let in and out in groups. The queue to get in stretched for ages right outside the park. I have a feeling that in most other countries the volcano would have been closed to the public but we had to take a chance to see something so different.
So after about two hours it was finally our turn and we started on the last five minute drive up to the top and could already see the red glow coming out of the top of the volcano.
When we got there we rushed to the edge and peered over the edge down into the depths of the volcano. What an amazing sight we saw. You could actually the see the lava way down below churning and boiling away. It was truly amazing. Just like we had seen before on TV or in the movies but obviously far more impressive to see in real life.
The sounds were great too. It sounded like waves pounding against a cliff face and the whole thing was incredibly mesmeric. Made all the better as we were only held back by a thigh high wall so there was nothing to block your view (some might say nothing to prevent you from falling in too!).
A truly unforgettable experience and we were so excited we couldn’t sleep when we got back so we went out for a $1 Mojito in the pedestrianised centre of Granada. A great place to watch the world go by and a great way to finish such a wonderful day. T
The main square in Granada and then some shots of the churches all within a stones throw of the Central Park.
Such different colours and designs for all the churches.
Some shots of the streets in Granada. Just such a wonderful place to walk around. The colours of the buildings are unbelievable.
A view from the bell tower of one of the churches. The tiled roofs are wonderful, but it’s also clear to see the courtyards in all the buildings. These keep the place cool and some of the peeks we have had through windows show some to be beautiful gardens.
The crater at Volcano Mombacho. Completely covered by cloud forest now.
Our path through the cloud forest.
They look like wild flowers but they are actually orchids.
Over our left shoulders is Granada and over our right are Les Isletas. They are both sitting on Lake Nicaragua.
Back to the local for more Vigaron.
That’s the view into volcano Masaya.