The Telíca Volcano is an active volcano about 30 kilometers from León. The latest violent eruption was in 1948, but the volcano has ever since been smoking and grumbling. The volcano is just over a kilometer high (1,061 meters) and has a huge crater: 120 meters deep and 700 meters in diameter.
The hot springs of San Jacinto are connected to the Telíca volcano, even though they are not at the foot of the volcano. San Jacinto is actually one of the places you can start your hike from. It is a long way to the volcano, but because there are no roads that pass by (let alone go up) you have no other choice than to spend most of your time hiking TO instead of ON the volcano.
From San Jacinto you basically walk away from the road and the village, in the direction of the mountain right behind the hot springs. This mountain is not the volcano though. You will walk on a sandy (volcanic sand, actually), little road, filled with rocks and only accessible by foot or horse. This hike will be tough and quite tiring. Besides some corn fields there is only nature around, and you’ll really get an off-road feeling from this hike.
Then, after about three-four hours of walking you will be at the foot of the volcano. Sometimes you can see smoke come out of the volcano, even though the crater is on the other side. The actual climb is not that hard. In one-two hours you can be at the crater. It is never really steep, and there grow lots of trees and plants on the volcano. There are several spots from where you have a great view. Before you reach the crater, you will have to cross a beautiful valley with grassland, trees, and rocks. Just seeing the crater’s walls rising from the valley is impressing.
You can then walk up to the crater’s rim and take a peek if there is no smoke blowing in your direction. If you’re lucky – or if you happen to be there when it’s dark – you will see the lava boiling and glowing in the depth, 120 meters below. This spectacular feeling will even be improved when you look around. The Telíca volcano forms part of the volcanic chain that runs all the way down and includes the volcanoes in Lake Nicaragua. You will see several volcanoes in line, some smoking and others dormant.
Because of the length of the trip, it’s most comfortable to spend the night at the foot of the crater. Several tour-operators organize such trips, and it allows you to rest and also to see a magnificent sunrise from the crater rim. The valley provides a good spot to sleep. Besides the obvious equipment and food you should also bring an extra sweater, especially when you arrive at dusk. There is a strong wind close to the crater, and when you are all sweating this makes it actually very cold without dry clothes. Some tour-operators also offer night hikes: you hike at night, without sleeping, and arrive at the volcano just in time to watch the sunrise. This has the advantage of at least half of the hike not walking in the sun.
Hiking all the way back will take about three-five hours, depending on the group. Because it’s best to spend the night at the volcano – and also because it is hard to find and ascent the volcano without knowing the area –it’s best to hire a guide or go with a tour-operator. It’s also good to bring sun lotion and prepare for some dust-eating, especially in the dry season.
To get here, you have to walk from the town of San Jacinto and its hot springs, which are located near the city of Leon. If you are traveling on your own car, you have to take the highway to the North side of the department and, after 12 Kilometers, turn right as if you are going to Malpaisillo (there are signs). After 10 minutes of driving, you will see the town of Malpaisillo on your right.
If you are in León, you will find buses that will take you to Malpaisillo.