Volcano Telica – Craters, beers and sunsets
After having sworn to never climb another volcano again, within a week of Acatenango, I found myself at the top of Volcano Telica. With the promise of an easy hike and a peak into the crater, I was sold! It ended up becoming one of the best things to do in Leon – so I hope this guide is useful for future travellers.
Telica is an active, stratovolcano and just one of the 26 volcanoes in Nicaragua. Situated approximately 30 kilometres north of Leon, Telica is easily accessible from Leon and makes for a fairly easy day trip. Most hiking tours pass through San Jacinto, a small town famous for its bubbling mud pits and small geothermal electric generation plant.
We booked the Telica Sunset tour through Volcano Day; an agency based in ViaVia hostel. I chose them simply because I was staying in ViaVia hostel, and everyone I met recommended their tours. However there are numerous agencies throughout Leon, so walk around and gauge prices/what’s included etc.
The infamous volcano boarding trip to Cerro Negro was originally top on my list for Leon. However it had very mixed reviews from people in my hostel, so given our budget and limited time, we decided to try Telica.
The Telica Sunset tour was fairly expensive, at USD$45. However, this included return transport, a guide, watermelon at the top, a cool t-shirt PLUS free beer and dinner once back at ViaVia.
Other tours included a sunrise tour, which entailed a day of hiking before reaching the crater for sunset. Overnight tours and longer day hikes were also available. Most agencies provide the necessary camping gear and equipment needed! After several volcano tours during my trip in Central America, I was very content with just a small hike!
Getting to Telica & The Ascent
Leaving Leon at 2:40pm, we embarked on the treacherous 90 minute drive to the hike starting point. There was 6 of us in the pick up truck, driving over rocky, narrow paths up to the volcano base. Despite the uncomfortable ride, it was a nice way to get to know new people.
Upon arrival, we had a quick toilet stop amongst the bushes and then began the hike up to the rim. This only took 40 minutes and was surprisingly really easy! For once, TripAdvisor reviewers declaring a volcano hike as ‘easy’, was actually true! (Unlike the case of Volcano Pacaya). It wasn’t steep or strenuous, and given the time of day, we weren’t suffering in the heat. Furthermore, the path was clear and marked out for most of the ascent, so technically it was straightforward too.
Related post: Roasting Marshmallows over Lava on Volcano Pacaya
We had about 20-30 minutes by the crater; taking pictures and drinking beer from a guy with a cooler. The 10am hike group joined us here shortly after we arrived. As a larger group, we made our way around the volcano to the sunset spot. Eating watermelon, drinking beers and watching the sun go down together was one of my best memories in Leon!
We had 40 minutes to watch the sunset. It did get fairly cold by now, so I’d recommend bringing some layers for this and the hike down.
We started the hike back at 6pm. Walking across the volcano wasn’t a problem. The sunset provided some natural light and the terrain wasn’t too difficult. However, the journey back down was rather unpleasant and more challenging than the ascent.
This was largely due to the rocky terrain and having to be careful where you stepped. Furthermore, it was now pitch black and we were guiding ourselves with phone torches. Headlamps would have definitely made this easier, so if you’re travelling with one, bring it!! A few people who did the longer day hike (10am group) joined us for this and I was glad to be going down with more people!
With everyone on the bus at 6:44pm, we prepared for a squished, bumpy drive back. This was the most unpleasant part of the journey and most people complained of having dead legs and pins-and-needles throughout it.
Dinner at the hostel
Arriving back at the hostel, the battered group headed to a reserved table for free beers and dinner! This was such a nice finishing touch to the tour! On previous excursions, the group dismantled once the trip was over. But this meant we could continue to catch up and chat about the trip as a group. Dinner consisted of three large sharing platters of various local foods – 2 meat and 1 vegetarian. It made the trip feel worth the money.
Packing List for Telica
- Hiking shoes or trainers – I’d advise against sandals/flip flops
- Plenty of water
- Head torch
- Extra layers for when the sun goes down/sitting at the top
- Small change for waters/beers at the top
Hiking Telica without a guide
It’s possible to hike Telica without paying for a tour group or guide. As an inexperienced hiker, with no sense of direction and poor map reading skills, this wasn’t something I was interested in doing. But if it’s something you’re considering, read this awesome post by FreeStyle Travelling on how to hike Telica solo.
Camping on Volcano Telica
A camping option is available for those wanting to experience a volcano sunrise! Again, this can be booked with most travel agencies around Leon. This tour starts at 10am and will return the following morning, often with a group breakfast included to end your excursion.
Sunrise tours are also available – leaving at 2:30am!! The sunrise hike had an option for leaving at 10am, for the same price as ours. This departed at 10am, with the hike starting after a 20 minute drive from Leon. However, after climbing Acatenango, this didn’t appeal to me.
Despite the unpleasant journey back, the Telica sunset tour was a great experience. The hike up was easy and I loved watching the sunset with beers and a great group of people. I think it’s a fantastic option for people wanting to experience a volcano hike, without any strenuous or technical climbing. It differed to other volcanos I had hiked – with its crater views! The free food and drinks put on by ViaVia was an awesome addition to the tour. It further brought the group together and was a fun way to end the evening.
However, if you’re looking for a proper hike experience, opt for the overnight stay or the 10am start. I was thrilled to have a short hike, given the few bigger volcanos I had previously climbed in Guatemala. But on the drive back, several people complained about the short hike time, particularly after the long, uncomfortable drive each way.
Let me know if you visit Volcano Telica during your stay in Leon.
Happy Travels xx