Telica volcano – With just more than a million international visitors a year, Nicaragua remains relatively undiscovered. But visitor numbers have been trending upward in recent years, as travelers seek out adventure in colorful and beautiful Central America.
Freelance photographer Ben Adkison recently returned from Nicaragua with pictures of breathtaking attractions such as Telica volcano (3,481 feet/1,061 meters), one of nine active volcanoes in the country's section of the Ring of Fire. It's a short and rough drive from the town of Leon, making it one of the most accessible and safest places to view lava in the country.
Lava viewing – While waiting for escaping gases to clear and provide views of the molten lava below, roaring and popping noises from Telica remind visitors of the powerful forces at work inside the earth.
Cathedral of Leon – Completed in 1814, the Cathedral of Leon is touted as the largest cathedral in Central America. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage sight in 2011. Once a political battleground, Leon is now renowned for its architectural and intellectual heritage.
Somoto Canyon sunrise – The Comali River and the Tapacali River join to form the Coco River as it flows deep into Somoto Canyon. The Coco River stretches more than 465 miles (750 kilometers) to the Caribbean, making it the longest river in Central America.
Somoto Canyon – Somoto Canyon parallels the Nicaragua-Honduras border. Exploring it requires a combination of hiking, canyoneering and swimming. It takes half a day to explore the canyon, with overnight options available. Local guides, such as Green Pathways, provide gear for travelers.
Fresh food – Cows provide milk for the rich, crumbly cheese called cuejada that accompanies spiced beans and rice known as gallopinto, freshly pressed corn tortillas, eggs and fried plantains that are eaten for most meals. There's always a dish of salsa picante -- fresh vinegary salsa made with onions and chilies.
Volcano boarding – "Volcano boarding" on Cerro Negro volcano near Leon originated in 2004. Several local companies operate tours for visitors who slide down the hillside on small wood and metal board at speeds of up to 95 kph. Neither too large nor too small for careering down (roughly 1,500 feet from peak to base), the smooth, denuded conditions on Cerro Negro make it the ideal place for such lunacy.
Deep sea fishng – Fishing is a major source of income for families along the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua. Local fisherman will often make their boats available for private charters.
Kayaking – Nature preserves such as Aserradores and Padre Ramos dot the Pacific coastline of northern Nicaragua and provide ample opportunity for bird watching and exploring passages through forests of red and black mangrove trees that are only accessible via kayak.
Paddle boarding, surfing – Carlos Deshon (pictured), who some consider the grandfather of surfing in Nicaragua, can often be found on the beach in Corinto. He's been surfing in Nicaragua for 30 years. Corinto is also popular for paddle boarding, which is relatively new to Nicaragua.