4,000 Tourists Approved for Minutes-Long Visit to Active Nicaraguan Volcano
All volcanos are not uniform, conical-shaped mountain conduits for lava eruptions. A lot of volcanos are flat or caldera shaped. A caldera is a volcano that is shaped like an inverted funnel under the surface of the ground. The volcano’s mouth is an open circular hole in the ground that further descends into funnel-shaped slope dimensions all the way down to the magma.
It is believed that calderas are formed in the aftermath of cataclysmically explosive volcano eruptions that only leave behind a caldera crater. Calderas can be very dangerous. Poisonous, toxic fumes like Sulphur, among others, can easily seep through the porous layer of cooled lava around the lip of the caldera. Lava rock, also known as pumice, is very brittle. A large swath of ground covered with cooled lava could really be a thin canopy-like layer that is covering a stream of lava underneath. The point is, aimless wandering can be dangerous around volcanos. However, for about $10, you can go to Managua, Nicaragua and peer over the side of a caldera that is currently billowing toxic fumes like Sulphur dioxide and showing signs of steadily increasing activity. If such a fancy strikes you.
The Masaya volcano is about 1,300 feet above sea level and located in a 20-mile area nature reserve. There is a caldera on the volcano that has been deemed safe-enough for tourism and has been opened up by the government for tourist gazing. Managua’s international airport is very close, barely 20 miles away. The walls of the caldera slope down for hundreds of feet. Current estimates theorize that the caldera was probably created anywhere from 2,500 to 6,000 years ago. Potential tourists are bound to see a cross of esteemed historical significance planted on the edge of the caldera.
Hundreds of years ago, people believed that literal entrances to Hell existed on Earth. Some people believed underwater sea-face cavern entrances, especially ones that were only visible at low tide, counted as such entrances. Exposed volcanic surface cavities with molten lava jumping out of it were also considered to be aesthetic-appropriate entrances to Hell. A Spanish monk and conquistador named Francisco de Bobadilla planted the cross on the edge of the Masaya caldera sometime in the early 1500s.
The Nicaraguan government will allow tourists to peer over the edge of the Sulphur-billowing caldera for only a few minutes at a time to lower the potential risk of fume poisoning or injury. Well over 4,000 tourists and counting have taken advantage of the opportunity. Nicaragua has been aggressively trying to rebrand itself as a tourist paradise since the 1990’s. The Masaya volcano has erupted twice. Once in the late 17th century and again in the late18th century. While the volcano has exhibited signs of increased activity within the first 6 months of 2016, there is no scientific evidence, yet, to suggest that it will erupt anytime soon. Masaya volcano is one of only a few such volcanos in the world where the public is allowed access as tourists and nature-lovers.