Here we are in the beautiful Isla de Ometepe, a barbell shaped island off the coast of Nicaragua with two lovely (one active and one dormant) volcanoes.
Through our hostel in San Juan Del Sud we had arranged to be driven to the port town of San Jorge for $30 USD to catch a boat to the island. We knew it was about 10x the cost of bus ticket but it was a nice break from the crowds and stuffy buses. Once we arrived we bought our tickets ($1.50 USD pp) for the one hour ride to take us across Lake Nicaragua to the island. Boats and ferries run throughout the day. If you need schedule check here. Once on the boat (after they handed out life jackets), we met Maryse, a French Canadian from New Brunswick and started chatting about options for activities for the week. We had excellent weather so we avoided any seasickness! Info from our host told us to ask for a moto-taxi to our hostel for just under $3.00 USD. After cruising along the highway that circles the island, we suddenly take a turn down an eroded sandy road and the moto-taxi is at a 30 degree angle. At this point, we were seriously doubting our choice of accommodations. Where could we be going? We arrive at our hostel to be warmly welcomed and shown our room which is a separate building behind a beautiful home. Our room was immaculate! We were then introduced to Daniela, the owner of the home and the manager of Puesta del Sol. Puesta del Sol is a community tourism effort ran by women in Ometepe that houses students and travelers in community members homes. What a lady she is! We also found out quickly that Daniela’s husband is from Quebec and her and her awesome daughter Maeva are very fluent in Spanish and French.
Kik – “Finally…after being silent for three weeks I can speak in full sentences and don’t have to rely on Clair for translating.”
Clair – “Thank God I can shut my brain off!”
Day 6 – Horse back riding
Through Daniela, we were able to organize our activities for the week. The first of which was a two hour horseback ride for $25.00 USD per person. We hopped on our horses and away we went. No lesson, no helmet, no rules, just ride baby ride. Kik instantly took control of the his horse like an experienced cowboy, whereas Clair lagged behind unsure of what she got herself into. After 10 minutes of waiting for Clair to catch up every 200 metres, the guide grabbed the reins from Clair and dragged her horse for the remainder of the trip. Our guide was a young Nicaraguan who fell in love with Clair after hearing her speak fluently in Spanish (Clair – this is UNTRUE). He talked to Clair for the entire trek giving her tips and tricks of the island as Kik galloped ahead unnoticed. If he was being dragged by the horse, the guide probably wouldn’t have blinked. In all fairness, he was very charming and Kik even said he almost fell in love with him. The ride was awesome! We went through water, trails through the bush, and learned about the area. Our butts were killing us afterwards.
Day 7 – Trekking Volcán Concepción
Now let’s get to the most stupid thing we have ever done. We had originally decided not to do this trek. We had heard it was extremely long, difficult and steep, rising 1600 metres from the base to the peak. After chatting with Maryse and others we were convinced that “everybody is doing it.” Once again, Daniela organized everything for our climb up the still active volcano. The shuttle was to pick us up at 6:00 am, drive us to the site and pick us up (hopefully alive). It was estimated the hike would take 8-10 hours (Clair – seriously WTF were we thinking). It was mandatory that a guide accompany us after people had died doing the trek alone (FIRST CLUE). That’s where Francisco comes in (wearing jeans and carrying a bag of bananas). He has been a guide for ten years and has climbed Volcán Concepción 36 times and Volcan Maderas (the smaller one) over 100 times! Our French Canadian friend, Maryse, joined us on our grueling hike. On the way to the volcano, we picked up a lone climber. To our surprise, another French speaking tourist, Clement from France. It worked out nice to all be able to socialize and encourage one all day “en francais.” In a group of four the cost was $20 USD.
Here is our range of emotions:
Hour 1 & 2: Excitement and fun (kinda like an unkempt Grouse Grind – Clair gains confidence!)
**Made it to the half way point after 2 hours of hiking. What a view!**
Hour 3 & 4: Nervousness to sheer fear
**Kik – Spectacular, Clair – In fetal position scared shitless**
Hour 5 & 6: Panic and much hand holding between Clair and Fransico
Hour 7 & 8: Complete exhaustion
It was rewarding to have accomplished such an incredible feat. Some moments weren’t enjoyable at all and the risk of serious injury or death felt super high. We’re both glad we can scratch this one of our bucket list and never do it again. We went to bed at 9:00 PM.
Being our last day on the island we wanted to take advantage of some of the other sites. Through Daniela we rented a scooter (with helmets!!) for $20 USD for the day. We hopped on our hog and took off running. Sort’ve. Kik definitely got the hang of of it near the end. We stopped at Museo del Ceibo ($5 USD per person) and checked out ancient petroglyphs and pottery and then had a shot of cojolla (a kinda less-worse tequila-ish drink) and chicha (a really sweet and fruity moonshine).
On we went to Ojo de Agua ($3.00 USD pp) to grab lunch and bathe in the apparent fountain of youth. It was cloudy and the water is chilly so the experience wasn’t as refreshing as planned. Earlier than expected we made our way back home reaching speeds of 60 km/hour at least!
Tomorrow morning we’re on our back across Lake Nicaragua to make our way to Granada, chicken bus included.