We had another free day in Granada. I met up with our tour guide for breakfast at D'Fruit (A a great place for juices, smoothies and breakfast; they even have a laundry service in the back) We enjoyed another meal on the side walks of Granada. After breakfast, I walked over to Pure Spa to see if I could get a massage. It was a really nice place with a lovely courtyard. I managed to get a really nice hour long massage for $25. It was exactly what I needed with all the volcano hiking.
After lunch, I walked over to El Merced Bell Tower with a stop at Parque Central. Parque Central was filled with merchants selling jewellery, shirts, and food. A bunch of people were just chilling and enjoying the park. I was a little bit paranoid after hearing the theft story the other day, so I kept up my guard and walked quickly through the park.
I headed straight to the Bell Tower, where I paid about $1 to climb up to the top of the Bell Tower for a view of Granada. I thought it was going to be able to climb up all the way to the top, but they closed off the last flight of stairs. The view was still great, you could see the entire town and Lago de Nicaragua in the back. The contrast between the brightly painted colonial buildings and the blue lake behind it was beautiful.
After exploring the town, I met back at the hotel for our night tour of Masaya Volcano. Sadly, when we reached the crater viewpoint it was extremely foggy. We could barely see anything with all the smoke and fog immersing the area in thick white smoke. It wasn't the best night to hike the volcano, but we tried to make the best out of the situation.
Our guide led us to a higher viewing platform of the crater and gave us a brief history of the volcano. Apparently, the volcano was once believed to be the gateway to hell and was used to sacrifice people to appease the devil. If the person that they sacrificed didn't not scream, that meant that it was a successful offering. Since then, there is a giant wooden cross placed on the viewing platform.
We got back into the vans and drove over to another area where we hiked up a trail for an higher view of the volcano and the surrounding area. While hiking up the trail, we saw another inactive crater. The crater is now filled with a lush forest that grew from the rich soil. We were also able to see Lake Nicaragua and Lake Granada.
From up here, the first crater looked pretty cool with the white smoke coming out of the crater and filling up the surrounding area. We hike back down to the vans and drove over to the bat caves. We each got a safety helmet and a flash light. You could smell the sulphur in the air, it was starting to burn my nose. We hiked through the forest a little bit before reaching the cave entrance. We each slowly made our way down toward the cave, which was once a lava tunnel. We passed by a small cave opening that was filled with small bats trying to flying out. It was so cool, you could hear the bats flapping their wings and see a few fly past. Walking through the lava tunnel was kind of scary, it was really dark and damp.
There were tree roots and water puddles along the tunnel floor so you had to be aware of where you were stepping. The ceiling had mini stalactites, roots, and a few bats hanging around. We walked to the end of the tunnel and reach piles of rocks. Our guide pointed out a rock that looked like a skull and then told us that they use to make sacrifices down here in the tunnel. It is known as the Devil's Lair. Then he asked us all to turn off our flash lights and listen. It was pitch black and you would hear the water dripping down from the ceiling, it was pretty creepy and kind of cool. Then he asked for a sacrifice, and we all agreed to sacrifice the youngest in the group. (haha..kidding.)
After hiking back out of the tunnels we continued on the trail to check out another bat cave.
View from the Bell Tower
This was a much smaller cave with lower ceilings so we didn't really go inside. The lights were scaring the bats, so we all crouched down in front of the cave opening with our flash lights off and patiently waited for the bats to fly out. Each time a bat flew out of the cave someone would take a picture and scare the bats with their camera flash. We decided to go into the cave one at a time to take a few pictures. After everyone got their bat pictures, we hiked back to the van and drove back to the first volcano crater to see if the smoke had cleared a little bit. There was still a lot of smoke and fog in the area, but we managed to see a little bit of the orange glow in the crater from the magma. All in all it was another really cool Volcano experience.