Let me tell you some cool facts about the volcano, what you can expect on this hike, why you should pick the overnight trek and some tips to make the climb the best experience ever.
Let’s get this straight, Telica is my favorite volcano in Nicaragua. You can argue with me, but I won’t change my love for this volcano. It was the first volcano I hiked in the country, the first time I saw real glow lava from a crater edge, saw millions of stars that first night and the sunrise was speechless.
Additionally, it was the volcano that I hike the most during my year as a hiking guide in Nicaragua. After the 50th time, I know a thing or two about the hike and the volcano.
Now that I confess my obsession for Telica it doesn’t mean you have to.
But if you are planning a trip to Nicaragua and debating if you should hike Telica, I will say a loud YES, you won’t be disappointed by this active volcano.
Cool facts about Telica volcano
- Its summit Elevation is 1061m (3481 feet)
- It’s one of Nicaragua’s most active volcanoes
- Consists of several interlocking cones and vents in an NW direction
- Has a 700m (2310 feet) wide double crater
- Southern crater is the most active and is 120m (396 feet) deep
- On July 31, 1994, an eruption produced gas and volcanic ash with a height of 800m (2640feet) and a distance of 17km (10.2 miles)
- There is a seismic station monitoring the volcano activity, if you want to check the last activity reports of Telica check their website, they have some cool photos.
Choosing the best hike for Telica volcano
There are four different hikes you can do to get to Telica, depending on your fitness level and the time you have.
There are a couple of options to get to the crater in one day, if you don’t have enough time or sleeping in a tent is not your cup of tea. Either way, I still encourage you to do the overnight hike.
One-day Telica hike:
With a one-day backpack, the hike itself becomes ten times easier since you only need water and some food.
You can still do the long trek from San Jacinto starting really early in the morning, get to the summit, eat and go back.
The problem with that is that you will have less time to enjoy the volcano and the hike, you will miss the magic of the night up there.
Some agencies offer the sunset Telica hike. A car drives you for almost two hours through a pumping rocky road to the back of the volcano.
The hike from here is not even a hike, it’s a walk. That’s how easy and short it is.
You see the crater, the sunset and then come back to the car in the dark.
This is a perfect excursion for people that can’t hike, or just have one day in Leon and really wants to check Telica quickly.
Full-moon Telica hike:
Once a month, some agencies offer a hike guide by the light of the full moon.
The climb starts at midnight in the darkness of the night under a sky of stars to the top of the volcano.
You arrive at the crater before sunrise. While it is still dark you are able to enjoy the crater and wait for the sun to rise, have breakfast on top and then start the way down to the village of San Jacinto.
Overnight hike to Telica:
The difficulty of this hike increases regarding the other hike options.
Basically, you will need more water, more food and a tent to sleep at night. As you can imagine the backpack becomes heavier and bigger.
You do the entire hike, and the harderst part, on the first day.
The best part of the overnight hike is spending time on the crater, checking the volcano at night, enjoying the rewarding view after the first-day hike and wake up to see the sunrise next to the smoky Telica crater.
If you want more details on the two-day hike, keep reading!
The overnight hike to Telica volcano
The overnight hike starts early in the morning. The first task its fill your backpack with all the necessary items to survive the two days.
Usually, the tour agencies that I know, take public transport to a small rural village called San Jacinto. It’s a 30 minutes ride where you can start meeting your fellow hikers and warm-up for the day.
The bus stops at San Jacinto town’s entrance. The first stop is 5 minutes from the town in the very hot Hervideros, boiling mud holes that are connected to the Telica volcano.
All the vents are fueled by the same underground geothermal activity. The mud is said to have extremely good curative powers and it has been proven to effectively help cure several skin conditions. I’ve never put my hand on any of the holes, there are boiling!
Hervideros de San Jacinto is open to 7 am to 5 pm daily. If you are going with an agency the entrance fee is usually included. If not you will have to pay a small fee of $2 for foreigners or $0.50 for nationals).
After leaving Hervideros, you walk along a huge pipe from the Polaris geothermal power plant that supplies nearly 15% of Nicaragua’s energy needs.
Geothermic plants channel that steam to generators and when the water cools it returns to the depths. There is another plant on the bottom of Momotombo volcano.
Then the trail winds towards the agitated western slope of the volcano, offering great opportunities to see the Nicaraguan national bird Guardabarranco perching high on majestic Guanacaste trees.
Walking on through fields and forest for about 3 hours. This first part is considerably flat and gradually going up but without extreme ramps.
There is usually a stop in a huge mango tree to have some snacks, refuel from the first phase and, if you are lucky, find a mango to eat.
If you feel adventurous, you can taste some termites that live in the tree, they actually taste like herbs and grass, some protein for the day!
After the mango tree, the hike becomes considerably steep for the next hour, this is the hardest part but also the final one.
You will know where the trek ends because you will have a perfect view of the impressive active red Volcan Telica.
Volcan Telica takes between six to seven hours to the summit in a normal paste, taking breaks and time for snacks.
The campsite is just 15 minutes down from the active crater and nested within an older inactive crater. It’s time for lunch, set up your tents and rest a little bit before heading to the crater.
The community that lives closer to the volcano takes care of the campsite. There is a table, some garbage cans and it’s a good spot to spend the night.
With full stomachs, some rest, and maybe a quick nap, it’s time to meet the active crater.
The steep walls of the 150 m wide crater drop down more than a hundred meters, providing a view that will make your head spin.
From the top, you have great views of the volcanoes San Cristobal, Cerro Negro, and Momotombo and it is the ideal place to see the sunset over the Pacific Ocean.
When it is dark and after dinner, you go back to the crater for the best possible views of the glowing lava.
In May 2015, the volcano registered over 64 small eruptions, since then it’s really difficult to see lava in the volcano. The volcano is quite active and always changing, so it is still a chance to see a little bit if you are lucky.
But for me, the lava was an additional highlight but not the main motive of the hike.
Next morning you can rise early to climb a ridge where you can see the sunrise.
After breakfast, it’s time to clear the camping area and go back to San Jacinto to take the bus. Usually, you are back in Leon early in the afternoon or even time for lunch.
How hard is the overnight hike to Telica?
It depends on a lot of factors, of course.
If you are healthy and an active person in general, the hike is doable with medium difficulty.
As I mentioned on the last point, the steepest part is the last hour, before that, you are most of the time gradually going up.
There are two main factors that make the hike harder:
- The heat in Nicaragua can be fatiguing and dangerous.
- The backpack for the two-day hike is no joke and can beat you down.
Make sure you rest as often as you need, don’t think about the other people in your group. If you need to breathe, do it.
Drink water even when you are not thirsty, that will avoid any heatstroke and will free some weight from your backpack (double win!).
Enjoy the trek as much as possible, and don’t think about how long until you get to the top.
Recommended agencies to hike Telica
Between the political situation in the country and the worldwide pandemic, Nicaraguan tourist businesses had been disappearing quickly.
A lot of the tour agencies didn’t have tourists to guide anywhere, so unfortunately most of them are close now.
Quetzaltrekkers Leon, the tour operator where I worked for a year, closed last year after almost 10 years guiding people to the volcanos. This makes me too emotional to say anything else! Just hoping we can reopen with time.
There are still some good local guides and a couple of agencies that can help you get to Telica and have the best experiences.
Volcano Day is one of the best agencies nowadays. It’s run by one of the best experience local guides that I know (and a good friend from my days as a guide). They provide most of the necessary gear, excellent experience and also some of their revenue goes to promote sports in the communities.
If you want some experience local guides, I have some good friends that you can contact to plan the hike.
Just let me know in an email and I can provide you the information.
Why you shouldn’t hike Telica alone?
The main reason for me is that there is no signpost or any marker through the trail. It can be really easy to get lost if you don’t know the way in Telica.
I hiked Telica several times before guiding it by myself, and even then, I got lost twice the first time I lead a hike.
It can be quite difficult to figure out where to go if you have never been to the volcano. Said that I hope you see the importance of a guide while hiking Telica volcano.
As a plus, a good guide will tell you some fun facts about the area and the volcano, tell you where to look to find cool birds, where is the best spot to have a snack and will have a plan if something unexpected happens.
Make sure that your guide also brings a first aid kit and basic medication. Most of the guides will have first aid knowledge that can be an advantage in any situation.
If you are not hiring a guide or a tour to save money, I will sincerely say this is not the place to do it. You can save on other things during your travels, but for hiking Telica I will advise you to not do it alone.
When is the best time to hike Telica?
Nicaragua has two seasons: “really hot and dry” and “rainy and hot”.
During rainy season is most common to have rain in the evening or during the night, even thunderstorm which is really cool to see from the volcano.
The rainy season goes from mid-May to mid-November, with October being the rainiest month.
During this season, the path becomes greener, plants become taller and there are more insects everywhere. While raining you are also more limited to do some things.
The dry season is really hot, and you will sweat for 24 hours. It is from mid-November to the end of May, this last month being the hottest and driest of all.
What to pack for hiking Telica volcano?
First of all, and I cannot stress this enough, pack whatever your hiking guide tells you.
I won’t explain how many times as a guide, I got to the top to realize that a person decided not to pack all the water needed and now they are thirsty as hell.
Probably it seems excessive when you check the weight of your backpack before the hike, but there is always a reason for everything.
All things clear now, somethings I recommend you bring besides the essential pack list:
- Wear or bring layers including a rain jacket, it can be very windy or rainy on top of the volcano. Especially if you are hiking in the rainy season.
- Pack all the water that it’s recommended. You can think that it’s exaggerated to hike with 5 liters of water but it’s not. Nicaragua is really hot, if you are doing the overnight you will need some for cooking and believe me, at the end of the second day you have been drinking all your water.
- Wear and bring sunscreen and insect repellent.
- Bring band-aids or cover-ups for blisters if you think your shoes can hurt you.
- If you have any allergies, first of all, tell your guide, and second bring your medication with you just in case.
- Ask if your guide is bringing a “shit kit” with toilet paper, hand sanitizer and a little shovel. If not, don’t forget tissues for when you have to go to the bathroom, and a bag to keep used paper until you find a trash can!
- A headlamp is always a great idea for any hike, especially an overnight hike. It’s one of my essentials when I pack for my trips.
- In the supermarket in Leon, you can purchase a couple of powder packages to make juice. They are light, great to flavor your water during the hike and replenish some electrolytes while you are sweating. You should look for the ones with higher sodium and potassium, check the labels since some of them only have sugars.
After all, Nicaragua is a land of volcanos and Telica is one of the most active ones.
Whichever hike you choose, either the one day or the overnight one, you won’t forget seeing the red volcano for the first time and hearing its roar.
Don’t worry about if you could get to the top, just start walking and enjoy the surroundings. Drink water, and when you least expect it, Telica will welcome you.
Did you hike Telica volcano? Do you have any other questions I didn’t answer?
Let me know in the comments
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