Inhaling an Active Volcano's Gases in Masaya, Nicaragua
Volcan Masaya belches out more gas than any other active volcano in the world and the nearby residents unfortunately have the pulmonary diseases to prove it. However, a quick day tour does the body good. Start with a hike up the steps to the replica cross erected to exorcise the devil from Santiago’s crater. Then explore some bat caves that were used to hide alcohol during a government crackdown on fun—and, later, revolution dodgers. Thinking he had found the gate to hell, one 16th-century Spanish priest, Blas del Castillo, even allowed himself to be lowered into the caldera with pulleys, just to get a closer look. Although there's no dangling by a thread allowed, the night tour has the added allure of potentially getting to see real lava, although wind-blown gases often obstruct the view.