The Telica Volcano hike in Nicaragua is one of the best volcano trails to tackle whilst travelling this fantastic Central American country. It’s within easy reach of the exquisite colonial town of Leon. Just a short drive from the city brings you to a beautiful volcanic landscape, with cone-shaped peaks shooting up in seemingly every direction. This is the Nicaragua Volcanic Chain, and it’s magnificent.
Telica Volcano in Nicaragua is nestled somewhere in the middle of this chain. It is one of the country’s most active volcanoes, with the last violent Telica Volcano eruption in 1948. The crater has been steadily puffing away ever since. We even witnessed this from the top of Volcan Cerro Negro just a few days before we embarked on the hike.
In this guide, we’ll cover how to hike Telica Volcano, including a trail description and how to get there. We’ll also discuss the different hike options including when to hike, and whether to hike independently or with a Telica Volcano Tour. And just for fun, we’ll throw in some cool facts about Telica Volcano in Nicaragua.
For more adventure-seeking and epic hikes in Nicaragua, check out our Momotombo Volcano Hike, Somoto Canyon Hike and Volcan Cerro Negro Hike. Or, check out The 16 Best Hikes in Nicaragua and Hiking Ometepe: 4 Excellent Trails Not To Miss.
Fun Facts About Telica Volcano
- The giveaway is in the title, but yes, Telica Volcano is one of Nicaragua’s most active volcanoes.
- Telica’s largest recorded eruption was in 1529, and it was HUGE.
- The tallest part of Telica Volcano reaches 1,061m above sea level.
- Telica’s massive crater is a whopping 700m wide and 120m deep.
- It is possible to camp at the base of the crater.
- The nearby town of San Jacinto benefits from its proximity to Telica Volcano, with geothermal activity producing fumaroles and boiling mud pots. The mud is said to have healing properties.
- Telica’s frequent eruptions mean its slopes are mostly void of vegetation.
- At times it is possible to see lava inside the crater.
Choosing the Best Time of Day for the Telica Volcano Hike
There are different options for hiking Telica Volcano in Nicaragua. And honestly, no one is any better than the other. It all comes down to personal preference and individual itineraries. Until recently, the sunset and overnight tours were a popular option due to the lava that was visible inside the crater. At the moment (April 2022), the lava is not present. So, that added bonus is no longer the draw that it was. Instead, a day hike seems to suffice. But still, waking up to a sunrise on a volcano is pretty sweet. So let’s take a look at the different options.
1. Day Hike Telica
This is the option Dan and I went with, due to our hectic itinerary. Also, due to the recent volcanic activity on Telica, we weren’t too keen on the idea of spending the night there. Plus, we’d really wanted to see lava, which wasn’t possible when we visited. All good though! We’d been lucky enough to already experience a beautiful sunset and sunrise after hiking and camping on Volcan El Hoyo. And we got to see lava at the impressive Masaya Volcano.
The trail options to summit Telica Volcano start from San Jacinto or La Quimera, on the outskirts of Telica town. If you get a nice early start, you can carry out the bulk of the uphill sections before the searing Central America sun kicks in. This is always advisable. You only need to bring your day pack and essentials for the hike. Easy peasy.
2. Telica Sunset Volcano Hike
As mentioned, the Telica sunset volcano hike was extremely popular until recently. It was possible to view lava in the crater depths. A rare sight that is only possible once darkness sets in. Hence the sunset option. Regardless of lava though, the setting sun over the Nicaragua Volcanic Chain is a sight to behold. And better still, you can return to your accommodation and be tucked up in a comfy bed once it’s over. Sweet dreams after this experience.
3. Overnight Hike to Telica
If your’re not as bothered about the comforts of a bed, or any real comforts for that matter, consider a camping trip. Despite Telica Volcano being one of the most active volcanoes in Nicaragua, it’s still possible to pitch a tent here.
Located at the foot of the crater walls is a rather picturesque campsite. Here, where vegetation is able to grow, you’ll find a small site with a picnic bench and fire pit. There’s not much else, so it’s a real back-to-basics camping experience. Through the few trees surrounding the site, it is possible to view the Telica Volcano crater. And perhaps with that, a little volcanic activity.
The campsite has an almost desert oasis feel, filled with palms and colourful flowers, set against the backdrop of the barren slopes of the Telica crater. Camping on Telica Volcano also means enjoying a wonderful sunrise over Nicaragua’s impressive volcanic chain. The night sky atop the Nicaragua volcanoes is quite special.
4. Full-Moon Telica Hike
We’ve heard there’s such thing as a full-moon hike to Telica. Here, you’re driven up the volcano on a full-moon to enjoy the moonlight drenched crater. Epic star-gazing too, no doubt. But, we couldn’t really find much information on this. Plus, our Telica Volcano tour guide assured us it wasn’t an organised tour. So, if you do know much about this, drop us a message in the comments below to help other travellers out.
There’s plenty of great hiking in Nicaragua, with the chance to scale a volcano high on most travellers’ bucket lists. The Telica Volcano hike is a great option. Or, if you fancy even more volcano hiking as you travel through Nicaragua, it makes for a great place to start.
The 19.6km trail is one of the longest volcano hikes we’ve done throughout Central America. But, with a smaller elevation gain than most, you’ll find the Telica Volcano Hike to be an all-around enjoyable and moderate hike.
Telica Volcano Hike Preview
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 19.6km
- Time: 5-7 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 740m
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Trailhead: La Quimera
Telica Volcano Hike
The most popular place to begin the Telica Volcano hike is the town of San Jacinto. However, the traditional starting point is La Quimera. This passageway was especially important when the use of horseback was needed by locals to traverse the landscape. Lesser so nowadays. This small pueblito is close to Santa Teresa on the outskirts of Telica town. It’s a little further southeast on the NIC-26 from San Jacinto. Also, we are assured, that the views along this route are even better than those along the San Jacinto trail.
An Early Start
Dan and I set out early, so it was a case of head torches at the ready with a 5am start time. As with many a hike in this part of the world, an early start is important for avoiding the midday heat.
From the town, the trail follows a wide dirt path, initially crossing over a make-shift rubbish dump. Luckily, the darkness helped in distracting us from the waste around. Soon enough, the trail enters a dry forest section, where the path follows along the remnants of a dusty river bed. There are blue ribbons tied to the trees to signal the correct path. Albeit, fairly sporadically. Also, the horse manure is a good indicator you’re following the correct trail.
This stage of the Telica hike has a very gradual incline, making speed hiking for Dan and I much easier to achieve.
WHAT’S SPEED HIKING? It’s a great way to cover more distance in a shorter amount of time. This means you can squeeze the most out of your day. It’s a great workout too. Find out more about speed hiking here.
At around the 6km mark, the trail starts to emerge from the tree cover. You’ll start to catch sight of Telica Volcano. Its vast crater growing impossibly larger. Looking back down the trail, you’ll have exceptional views of Volcan Santa Clara – a densely vegetated mound that is much different compared with its neighbour, Telica.
Here, the trail becomes steeper. The final push to the Telica crater begins and the final few kilometers take a little more effort. Having 360 views helps to distract from any struggle and it’s really not long until you reach a levelling off of terrain. You’ll now be able to see the Telica Volcano crater very clearly.
This gradual climb to the first real viewpoint, just above the campsite, is fantastic. The views are extensive in every direction. Luckily, from here, it’s a fairly flat hike around the rim of this old crater to reach the active crater of Telica Volcano.
If you take the crater edge walk to the right, and choose to hike through the campsite on the return, then you’ll soon pass a small volcano monitoring station. This actually provides the best viewpoint to see the whole of Telica Volcano crater. You can even spy San Cristobal, Nicaragua’s tallest volcano, in the distance. The views are wonderful.
Being open and exposed, we found the wind to be extra strong in this section. So, it’s either hold onto your hat’s time or tuck them safely away in your bag.
Continuing along this edge of the crater, you have a real sense of becoming smaller and smaller. Like shrinking with every step you take. I can’t stress enough just how crazily big the Telica Volcano crater is.
There’s a small barrier to protect hikers from the crater’s edge. But, even this is on borrowed time. There’s around a one metre gap between us and a long drop inside. Our Telica Volcano tour guide actually informed us there used to be around six metres of terrain from the barrier to the crater’s edge. Slowly, with every big eruption, that distance is getting less.
The landscape here is lunar-esque. The lack of vegetation paired with an exposed, rocky and lifeless terrain gives the feeling of exploring far beyond the reaches of Nicaragua. It’s incredible. An absolute marvel.
To return, take the trail that passes through the campsite. Don’t expect to see many campers at this time of day though. The only signs of life we saw was a lonely horse tucking into an unusually lush patch of grass.
From here, the trail rejoins with the initial track you hiked up. Then, it’s just a case of retracing your steps back to the start.
If you’re backpacking through Nicaragua, you really ought to hike at least one Nicaragua Volcano. I mean, how can you not! The country is littered with them. Telica is a simple hike with not too steep an elevation. This means it really is accessible for most people and most levels of fitness. The crater views at Telica Volcano are up there with the best of them.
We’ve seen some exceptional volcano craters as we’ve travelled through Central America, like San Miguel Volcano in El Salvador. Telica is easily edging towards the same levels of grandeur, and its jaw-dropping prominence on the landscape makes it a true national treasure. The outlook along Nicaragua’s volcanic chain is breathtaking, especially on a clear day.
Spending time hiking in Nicaragua is such a great decision. And the Telica Volcano Hike is easily one of the best. It’s certainly one of our favourites. The trail through pretty forest and farmland is tranquil yet adventurous. And as you start to ascend, the views sprawled out around you are pretty spectacular.
Telica Volcano may not be the world’s largest supervolcano, but it is a super volcano! And, that’s good enough for me.
How to Get to the Trailhead
The easiest option for the Telica Volcano hike is to take a Telica Volcano tour. Generally, this means accommodation pick up and drop off, which saves a lot of time. On the flip side to that, it does mean parting with more cash. Not always appealing to the budget backpacker. But, sometimes spending a little to gain a lot is worth some consideration. That being said, it is possible to get yourself to the trailhead independently. We’ll check out both options below.
Although not highly recommended, we did see a group of four tourists hiking Telica independently. They may even have camped at Telica. They had taken the trail from San Jacinto. So, it is possible. But you definitely should do your due diligence on checking for any recent volcanic activity and take necessary safety precautions.
From Leon, you can take a 30 minute ride on the chicken bus towards San Jacinto. You should alight the bus prior to reaching San Jacinto, at La Quimera. Just let the bus driver know your plans. Here, you can pick up the trail. It’s a good idea to have a map or GPS when hiking independently.
Alternatively, you could stay on the bus to San Jacinto and start the hike from there. Here you’ll need to pay a C70 entrance fee to pass through Hervideros de San Jacinto geothermal area. Both trails from La Quimera and San Jacinto converge midway through and then follow the same trail to the summit.
To return, you can wait on the side of the main road at La Quimera for the chicken bus back to Leon. You shouldn’t need to wait long. And the bus shouldn’t cost more than $1USD
Recommended Tour Agencies to Hike Telica Volcano
Dan and I took a Telica Volcano Tour and hiked with Fun ‘N’ Sun Travels Nicaragua. We highly recommend this tour company. The friendly owner, Memo, is fantastic at planning the perfect tailor-made trip to meet your needs. Not to mention, his English is exceptional. He makes for a wonderful tour guide and we thoroughly enjoyed hiking throughout Nicaragua with him, especially on the Telica Volcano tour.
For the day hike to Telica Volcano, the tour costs $50USD each, with a minimum of two people needed. The price decreases with additional hikers, so it becomes $35USD for three people.
To hike Telica Volcano at sunset, the cost is $60USD per person. This is reduced to $45USD for three people and $35USD for four people.
Should you want to overnight hike and camp at the base of the Telica crater, the price is $70USD. This is if you take the option to drive up the volcano, resulting in a much shorter hike to the crater. The price is reduced to $60USD if you choose to hike from the bottom. Again, a minimum of two people are needed for the Telica Volcano tour to run. Camping includes dinner and breakfast, as well as the usual drinks and snacks that are included on all tours with Fun ‘N’ Sun Travels Nicaragua.
The Fun ‘N’ Sun Travels Nicaragua office is based in Leon. You can contact Memo and the team as follows;
Office No. +505 2311 0748 or via Whatsapp on +505 8993 3714 or for emergencies use +505 8851 2059. Check out their website too for more information on the tours they offer. You can also contact them on Facebook or Instagram.
Why You Shouldn’t Hike Telica Alone
As with many Nicaragua Volcano hikes, trails can sometimes become unclear or lead to dangerous access points. Many volcanoes in Nicaragua are active. So, it’s important to have someone with know-how and up-to-date knowledge of recent volcanic activity to safely guide and navigate the hikes. Local guides will have all the latest volcano news from the areas you’re hiking.
Often, using guides is a way of supporting local communities too, which is an important consideration when travelling. Taking a guide is also a fantastic way to learn about history, nature and, importantly, practice your Spanish! Kudos if your Spanish doesn’t need any work.
In addition to the subject of taking a guide, it’s probably even more important to ensure you take a buddy. Hiking alone carries so many risks, even for the most experienced of hikers. Two is always better than one, and you just never know when you might need that friend.
What Time of Year is Best to Hike Telica Volcano
Dan and I hiked Telica in March-time, so basically coming to the end of the dry season. The dry season in Nicaragua typically runs from November to May. During this time, hiking is hot, humid and the surrounding landscape can appear dull and brown in parts. We kinda liked it though. Pack plenty of water or you’ll be wilting as much as the plants around you.
Hiking during the wet season will give you a much more lush and vibrant landscape. But with that can come trickier hiking conditions involving wet and muddy trails. These often can become slippery and difficult to walk on.
Because Telica Volcano only has a short and steep section towards the latter part of the hike, it is generally considered a doable hike all year round. The most important thing to take into account when hiking Telica Volcano is the amount of recent volcanic activity.
Five Hiking Essentials to Pack for Hiking Telica Volcano
Why do you need this?
See it in action
These boots are still going strong, even though we're certainly putting them through their paces on Central America volcano hikes
This camera is the best compact digital camera on the market. Lightweight, compact and durable, the Sony Cybershot RX100 VII takes high-quality photos and 4K videos
The trail to Telica Volcano is dusty. A neck gaiter is perfect to keep the dust out of nose and mouth
A great day pack that has room for hydration bladder, layers, snacks, camera and tripod. It's a winner
The GoPro Hero 9 is a fantastic action camera. We captured some great footage during the Telica Volcano hike
Make sure to also pack 2.5L of water, snacks, sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat.
For a more comprehensive hiking gear list, check out our 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With. Otherwise, for a general summary of everything you’d need for a trip, visit our Ultimate Packing Checklist.
- Active volcano: Telica in Nicaragua is an active volcano, so understand the risks before you set out on this hike.
- Introduction to volcano hiking: as volcano hikes go, the Telica Volcano hike is a great introduction to the amazing volcano hikes Nicaragua has to offer.
- Telica Volcano Tour: if you’re keen to learn more about the natural landscape, flora and fauna along the hike, then take a Telica Volcano tour. You won’t regret it and may even learn a few survival skills along the way.
- Start Early: The Telica Volcano hike is one of the longest volcano hikes in Nicaragua. To be sun smart, either start very early or consider hiking at sunset and/or overnight. Hiking in the middle of the day is not a good idea.
- Use trekking poles: although not a super steep hike up and down Telica, the dusty terrain can feel like hiking through the sand. Do your knees a favour, and use trekking poles. Even wooden sticks are better than nothing.
- Hike any day of the week: unlike many hikes in Central America, trails in Nicaragua do not get busier on the weekend, so there’s no need to plan your Telica hike around any potential busy spells.
Which volcanoes have you hiked in Nicaragua? Let us know in the comments below.
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