First impressions of Leon were that its a lot dustier than Granada. The well maintained, colourful streets of Granada were replaced with white and cream coloured edifices and an even stronger great than Granada. Leon is apparently central America’s hottest city and you definitely know about it!
I’d booked 3 nights at Latina which although very friendly had put me in the smallest 4 person dorm I’ve ever seen. There were 2 bunks and about a foot of space in between them. Once everyone’s bags were in you could barely move. I finally cracked at booked a $30 airconditioned room at San Juan del Leon for the next night. It seemed to be on special offer on booking.com and was so with it! The airconditioned seemed brand new and was quiet and cold. The first time I’ve had it since Panama City.
Anyway, my first stop was to book a twilight tour to Telica with Tierra Tours. The tour ran the following afternoon from 2.30 to 9pm. There was more driving than I expected, it’s in a 4×4 and there is 20 minutes at the start in good road before an hour on bumpy off road tracks. Our guide was very good and kept us updated on what we were doing and how long was left of the bumpiness which made it more bearable! When we arrived we were given plenty of snacks, I think a banana, cookies, peanuts and some juice to keep us going on the moderate 45 minute hike to the crater. When we arrived there was a lot of smoke and it was a little hard to breath, probably not as bad as Masaya though. We spent some time looking down into the crater before waking around to the side of it to watch the sunset. While there was a railing around the Masaya crater there was nothing at all at Telica. Just a sheer 700m drop down into the crater right next to us! The guide recommended we lie flat on the floor and do an army crawl forward to take pictures, and that we did.
The volcano from a distance
Once the sun had disappeared we switched our flashlights on and headed back to the crater to look at the lava. Unfortunately the wind that had blown all the smoke away from the crater and into our faces earlier had died down and the smoke had all settled in the crater. The best I saw was the tiny pixel you might be able to pick out in the photo below. I will have to schedule another lava specific trip at a later date
We walked back down the volcano in the dark using flashlights which was a bit of a challenge due to the rubble. Even the guide tripped a couple of times but we made it back in one piece. It took about an hour and a half to get back into town and we were dropped at the doors of our hostel which was a nice touch.