We ended up travelling down as a group of four, myself, Jim, Simone and Lucas who was one of the volunteers. Lucas spoke pretty good spanish which was great as we had to negotiate two buses, a taxi, a ferry, another bus and a truck ride to get to this hostel. Was quite a fun journey which took us about 6 hours in total. The only place we had to wait for a long time was after the last bus at a bus stop waiting for another bus that didn't turn up.
El Zopilote is a really cool hostel tucked away off the road to Santa Cruz. Its quite a hike but well worth it. It has a real hippy vibe to it. The entrance to the path up to the hostel is marked by an old american school bus that has been converted into a shop selling homemade products from El Zopilote. Everything is outside, including the showers and the "sh*t in a hole" toilets.The accommodation is pretty cool. All the hut are made out of wood and make you feel like you are in a tree house. They also have two look out towers that give great views of the environment around you.
The first night we arrived it was Pizza night. Home cooked pizzas in their brick oven. Sounds pretty good but I was a little disappointed with them. It might have something to do with the fact that cheese over here really isn't very tasty and the base had too much salt for my liking. (I know, theres always something for me critique on when it comes to food! lol)
The next morning Simone and I went to hire bikes to cycle around for the day. We cycled down to Playa Santo Domingo. The beach was quite nice but being a volcanic island it was black sand and very hot. At the end of the beach we found a vegetarian restuarant where we met up with Jim and Ingrid who had walked all the way from the hostel.
After lunch we went to find Ojo de Agua which is some sort of natural, fresh spring water place. We had heard it was quite nice and expected it to be a little pool of water in a natural setting. When we arrived, after walking about 10 minutes from the entrance we found it wasn't in quite as natural a setting as we thought it might be! There was a bar, quite a few people in the pool which was bordered by a small concrete wall. lol. Despite this it was still nice and refreshing to get in and swim around. There was also a local kid who was very insistent on him and I having an underwater swimming competition! It took us about 15 minutes to work out what he was trying to say but we got there eventually. Sadly I lost, but only because I accidently kicked him in the face so stopped to see if he was OK. haha.
In the evening we went to a restaurant at the side of the road opposite the entrance to El Zopilote. The owner was very friendly and always served massive portions for only a few dollars. We ended up eating there quite a few times. They also had quite a few animals around the place, including a pig, a dog that had just given birth to 4 puppies, (we made sure our left overs went to her as she was really skinny), a duck and 4 ducklings (there used to be 10 but the pig had eaten 6 of them!)
The next morning Jess and I were at the crack of dawn to begin a trek up the smaller of the two volcanoes, Volcano Maderas. The hike started off quite nice with only a gradual incline. The temperature however was starting rise along with the humidity. After about an hour I was already drenched in sweat! At this point in we entered the forest that was at the base of the volcano were we saw and heard Howler Monkeys in the trees above us. It was interesting to see the environment change gradually from a dry forest to a rain forest the higher we climbed. Not only did the flora and fauna change but so did the terrain. Halfway up the volcano we hit cloud and everything became wetter including the trail. By the time we reached the crater i was covered in mud! lol. Unfortunately the crater and top of the volcano were still in cloud so there weren't any stunning views to be had.
We had lunch in the crater as normally happens with these things I had very much underestimated how much food to take with me. I only packed a muffin, 2 cookies and a banana. Was definitely not enough! Fortunately everyone else had packed too much food and were kind enough to share it out. By the end of our 8 hour hike I was absolutely knackered. I wasn't quite as fit as I thought I was and the hike was a bit of a shock to my legs! haha. Was still a pretty cool experience though.
The day after, Simone, Jim and I took the many buses back back to Granada with Simone leaving us at Rivas to go on to San Juan Del Sur.
Was a slight struggle to get up at 8am the next morning to leave for Ometepe. I wasn't planning on going down to Ometepe, which is an island in the Lake Nicaragua with two volcanoes, but it seemed pretty cool. Plus quite a few other travelling folk had mentioned it so I thought why not.