I'm planning on a two-month trip next year to Central America: Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. One thing I have yet to see is an active volcano with red-hot lava flows. For ye hikers who have been to CA, can you recommend a volcano or two -- preferably not too strenuous or too time consuming to reach (only got two months to spread among five countries)? Thanks.
-------------- The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page. -- St. Augustine
While Pacaya in Guatemala fits your location and there's another in that country that's reasonably active, Santa Maria, the most reliable and spectacular flows I know of are in the United States. 1983 and counting....
A Kilauea night helicopter tour when the lava curtains are erupting is amazing and an RHIB tour when the lava flows are, as they often do, pouring into the ocean in a spectacle of fire and steam is not to be missed.
If there's a geological monitoring program for Pacaya it may have activity updates. Or The Smithsonian's Global Volcanism Program might list their activity or others in that region.... http://www.volcano.si.edu
On 21 November INSIVUMEH reported that a recent Strombolian phase at Fuego decreased in intensity. Explosions generated ash plumes that rose 450 m and drifted W and SW. Ashfall was reported in Sangre de Cristo (8 km WSW). During 21-22 November explosions produced ash plumes that rose 450 m and drifted 7 km WNW, as well as loud rumbling sounds heard within 15 km. Lava flows were 300 m long in the Ceniza drainage (SSW). During 25-26 November ash plume from explosions rose 550 m and drifted 10 km W and SW."
I'm no help with CA, but will cast another vote for the big island - I was there back in June and it is pretty great! If I recall correctly, there is something like 11 of the 13 climate zones, so lots of variety in what to see or do (although not a lot of beaches if thats your thing).
Ben- The lava flows in a National Park, so there must be something up that would tell you if the lava was flowing visibly. I will search for a site, so you will not get there during a time when it is difficult to see. The entire 5.5 years I lived on Oahu, it flowed constantly. I was very lucky to get over there several times to see it.
-------------- Everything I know, I learned by doing it wrong at least twice.
"I would rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth." Steve McQueen
Ben - if at all possible, I would highly reccomend going to see the lava flows (in Hawaii or CA) in the late afternoon/evening. There is nothing like seeing the glow of the lava while surrounded by darkness. I Hawaii I started the hike out (guided) about 4pm, got to the lava flows about 6:30pm, spent an hour or so there and thenn began the journey back, finishing about 10pm. It was really cool in the dark!