We arrived on the grand twice-volcanoed island of Ometepe late in the afternoon on April 4th.
It was my birthday and we celebrated by waking up early to chicken-bus travel on the busiest Nicaraguan day for travel. The day when most Nicas travel from the cities to the incredibly crowded beaches.
The bus was a little crowded to say the least. I found myself standing and squashed into a 3×3 foot area that also included two families. It was a little crowded to say the least. Cynthia managed to get squashed next to the only guy who arrived for his 6:30am bus to the beach completely hammered. Too much Tona for this bloke. It was a little… you get the picture.
Basically, it was a mission to get to the beautiful island of Ometepe. So, the only thing to do was to delay my birthday celebration to the following day…
Ometepe has a treasure trove of natural delights for the traveler. There’s beaches and villages to explore, river and lake kayaking, waterfalls, hidden gem cafes. Lots of choice for the traveler.
However, to truly bring home to me how old I was turning and to remind me and show Cynthia that these bones are a little more aged than they used to be, we chose to hike, scramble, crawl and climb up Maderas Volcano.
The hike was led by our never-tired and never-sweating guide Yeris, organised through the lovely people at Finca Mystica. I cannot emphasise this enough – it makes for such a great all-round experience when your guide speaks so highly of and positively about the place you’re in at that given moment.
We learned about the island and volcano’s history, about his family and his family’s farm and, in turn, he was eager to learn about Canada. The hike/crawl/climb was easily the hardest I have ever done yet our guide made a fantastic effort to keep things positive, interesting and, well, moving along of course.
The hike (all 17km up and down of it) was gruelling for me, great exercise for Cynthia and a walk in the Park for Yerys. He had, of course, done the hike yesterday along with “over 100 times before”. Anyhow, it was gruelling, with a great deal of sweat and tiredness going up and a whole lot of millions-of-knives-stabbing-you-in-the knees-multiple times over and over on the way down.
Yet, along the way we saw and heard many a howler monkey and hiked through various differing layers of forest. From the dryer lower part to the huge trees and dense middle bit, to the even denser yet mud everywhere bit closer to the peak. And then there were the incredible views of Omepete island as we ascended. What a place.
So, yes, we reached the top of the volcano (1,394 metres or a shade under 2.5 CN Towers or around 200 times smaller than the length of Wales) and saw the mysterious crater lake. We learned about Omepete and the people who have lived there for generations upon generations. We saw me sweat a lot and, yes, we made a video… Hope you enjoy 🙂
Where we stayed: Finca Mystica – hidden little gem of a place at the base of Maderas Volcano with very yummy food and clean little cabins to stay in.