Ometepe Island

Trip Start Sep 06, 2010
Trip End Sep 04, 2011

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Where I stayed
El Porvenir
Hotel Central, Altagracia

Flag of Nicaragua  , Rivas,
Saturday, September 18, 2010

There are certain moments in our lives, we wish they could last forever. I am living one of them right now (draft of this blog was written on Thursday) while rocking in a porch hammock of El Porvenir's lodge, and, at the same time, enjoying a wonderful view of volcano Concepcion. Unfortunatelly I must also admit that these are my last hours in Nicaragua. Oh my God, the stay in this beautiful and fairly unexplored country went soo quickly - it is hard to believe it is almost over. I can not say anything less that I will miss Nicaragua a lot. The country is very poor (average monthly salary of  approx $100), it deals with its very own political issues (it is stil a communistic country whose big allies are Cuba and Venezuela). On the other hand, it is a coutry with a pristine and uncommercialized nature not yet polluted by tourists, and to me, it is quite a safe country (judging by experiencing no harrassments or assults during my numerous walks throughout local villages or countryside of Ometepe Island). As a small bonus, the country is very very cheap for any European traveller, who can easily live out with $20-30 a day.

You can ask what I have liked the most about this country and my sincere response would be:
- of course city of Leon - a liberal city with its proud citizens and its unforgettable spirit of hardly fought freedom. Over there, I felt that tourists easily immerse into a local crowd and a normal day-flow in a such way that the unique city spirit is untouched.
- i can not forget about Mombacho volcano and its cloud forest. The possibility to be the only tourist at the ranger station among with 8 rangers, and to see all that endless "green jungle" of the cloud forest will linger within me forever.
- and not to forget the current moment when I am indulging myself with a so "catchy" view of volcano Concecion.

Guys, to me, Nicaragua is a hidden gem stone of central america. So please ditch Costa Rica and other touristy destinations and come here instead. You will not regret.

Thanks Nicaragua, and I promise that it was not the last time I was here!!

However before giving a final farawell to Nicaragua, I had spent some cool time on the Ometepe Island -  the biggest island on the world located in a fresh-water lake. On Tuesday, right after the National Day parade, I packed my belongings and headed towards the Granada's bus station to catch the bus to Rivas, which is considered to be a base for getting on Ometepe Island. On the way to the bus station, I stopped at the Granada's municipal market to get some bananas to provide myself a cheap and light lunch. Speaking of bananas, you can buy a piece for 1 cordoba and thus stretch your budget to another dimension (not considering the local heat and humidity which supresses your apetite). I was falling a sleep on the Rivas bound bus, as I did not get much sleep during the previous night in Leon. Over there,  in the Bearded Monkey hostel, they put me on the upper bed which was just a meter away from the ceiling fan so I was a big freezing at night. After approx 90 minutes bus ride we reached Rivas, where I instantly had to undergo a tough negotiaion with  local taxi drivers. They are so competitive that they even come to you while you are still on the bus getting ready to get off. A normal fare for getting from Rivas to San Jorge port is $1 per person, but if you are a solo traveller you are disadvantaged and supposed to pay for unexisting co-passangers. I managed to pay only for two of them, and it was the best I could do.
But the most memorable moment of my trip to Ometepe happened aboard of the ferry. There were around 5 ladies of a different age sitting on benches right in front of me. Eventhough I did not understood what they were talking about, I kinda felt that they are discussing me. My suspicion turned to be correct, as one of them turned to me after a few minutes and started asking me those general conversation questions. It was really nice to talk to somebody in English after so many days being surrounded by just Spanish speaking crowd. At the end it turned out that she is a co-owner of a hotel in Granada who is taking part of her hotel staff at one day trip to the island. She also mentioned that one of her employees find me very attractive (how nice to hear the obvious, right :-)) ) and would like to get my email and telephone number. Her name was Roxana, a 25-year-old (her picture is attached; and by the way she did not speak a word of English) really nice and smiling Nica girl. Guys, if anybody is interesting I have her phone number (Faran, what do you say :-) ) - but not my type though.

After this nice chatting and hooking up episode and 1 hr ferry ride here we were on the volcanica island called Ometepe. There are only 35k inhabitants living on this island, and infrastructure is fairly undeveloped there. As you will see from the attached pictures, only some of the island roads are paved with majority of them being rather mud and dust trails. Once we got off the ferry there was already a local bus waiting for its passangers, so we just easily hopped on that bus (as usual just me being the only gringo). The bus ride seemed to be running smoothly up until the moment we stopped at one bus stop. Then suddenly around 5 policemen got on the bus, surrounded one guy and pulled him out of the bus. I was quite shocked, as it was already totally dark outside and  this police actions was very fast and suprising. As I was explained by one of the co-passangers, the detained guy was probably a drug smuggeler and these kind of police actions do not happen too often :-). Finally after 40 min of the bus ride in a complete darkness, I reached town of Altagracia (my base for volcano Concepcion climbing).

The hotel owner, eventhough did not speak English, promptly understood that I need an Enghlish speaking guide to do a volcano hike. A guide is highly recommended for these hikes, as paths to volcano peaks are not marked and are quite slippery. Unfortunatelly the guide did  not have good news for me. Due to the current winter season and related rain, he did not want to go all the way to the volcano peak (1,610m), but only to an altitude of approx 1,300m. I was very disappointed, but there was nothing I can do, as he was apparently the only English speaking guide in the town. The next day at 5.30 am , we left the hotel to do our 5 hour hike. During the climb and the following descent I could see some nice panoramatic views and also wild life (birds, white-face monkeys and butterflies). The hike was quite streneous mainly due to unbearable heat and humidity. When we reached the top of our walk,  my whole (yes there was no one single dry spot) shirt was wet and the sweat was actually dripping of my sleeves :-).  Overall a nice hike, but I  somehow could not get over the fact that we did not go all the way to the top.

As we were back from the hike around 11 am, I decided to fill the rest of the day with a small trip to the nearby natural spring lake called Ocho de Agua (They eye of the water). It is a small logune with refresinghly cool water which is quite popular among visitors of the island. To get there I took a bus, but there was no bus service for the way back to the hotel Therefore, I simply decided to walk the distance of around 5km. I must say it was a nice 1hr walk through Ometepe villages which allowed me to get a real teste of life conditions in this part of Nicaragua.

After spending two nights in Altagracia,  I moved to the proximity of the second Ometepe's volcano called  Maderas. Unlike Concepcion, this one is not active any more and has a water lagune in its crater. Following the recommodation of the Lonely Planet guide I opted to stay at the eco-lodge called El Povenir. If anybody desires to stay in a remote place on slopes of volcano, enjoy a beautiful tropical garden and get a bit of taste of a farmer life in the middle of a wild nature, then this is the place to stay. As a bonus  you get that fabulous view at the volcano Concepcion's silhouette. I was considering walking to the top of Maderas volcano, but as I was alone and the path  was very muddy and slippery ( i walked it up for 1hr and then for the same time down), I decided not to take the risk of getting lost or hurt. Anyway, that 2 hr hike let me see some nice sceneries (ie. rice fields and farmers working on them,etc). On the way down, I had to face a cattle herd which was going to feed on grass. As some of them were "armed" with long horns, I better stepped aside and hid myself behind a razor-wire fence (how brave I am, righ :-)) ). I spent the rest of the day by wandering around the nearby villages located on the lake shore. There was not so much to see, but on the other hand I got a glimse of how the locals live there (see some of attached pictures).
The only night  I spent in El Porvenir was a bit spooky, as I was the only guest there. The whole El Porvenir's staff left at 6 pm, and it was only me and 2 local guys, who were watching the whole complex, left behind. At night,  I could hear sounds of all those animals living in the forest...quite an experience :-). I was just hoping that nobody with a chainsaw will show up and cut me into small pieces :-))). In the morning, I was awoken by the piggy of the nearby located farmer which was sniffing for some food...this what I call to be in touch with a nature :-)).

Right after the Friday morning breakfast, I packed my stuff and took a bus and then a ferry back to Rivas to catch another bus towards Nicaragua borders to start new advantures in Costa Rica.

Greetings from Monteverde, Costa Rica.

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Benjamin on

Hey dude,

I got to tell you something. So many thoughts I had when reading this post, but... they get lost along the way. You got to keep it shorter mate.

Let me try to recapitulate: In the beginning I found your english very smooth, no spelling mistakes, fluent sentences, and I thought "he met a girl". Then step by step, a couple of mistakes kept creeping back in...

Then I thought: Maaan, I always heard that Nica is shit, Costa Rica is supposed to place to be. Heard that so often. And then you touch the issue - as if you knew where the reader's thoughts would be going. Well done, chapeau.

And then: nice to hear the obvious... I was alone in my room, but I laughed out aloud, cHahaaa... the first cHa was genuine joy, the reminder a dirty and fierce haaaaAAAA.

But why the hell my name when talking about your Nica-phone number??? I really can't see the relation, why me? Me? Me, me, me, me? I am mature now, dude, mature. You're gonna get there eventually (hey, btw, I got to tell you something...)

And now I still got to check the pix... Your map already looks allright, I already imagine how it's gonna look in the end - the world encompassed by webs. You are gonna be spiderman mate, and the world is just a toy in your fingertips!!!

luxguy on

Dude, sorry for English.But I have sooo much to say that sometime I just make those sentences complicated. I will try to follow your footsteps, as I like your English writing (no joke, though)!
Why you?! Because the last time we spoke you did not sound as a mature man ....haha.
Otherwise, what do you expect from something made for export. :-)))
I can tell you already now that Costa Rica is badly overrated and you will hear it in my next blog posting. GO to Nica, not to Tica!!

VInce on

HEI PETR....nice hearing from you....It is really nice reading your appreciation of the nature and the animals..I was not expecting you so interested in the nature...
by the way, even if now you are a green man I would like to point out your behaviour with the NICA girl...what's going on with you? I should always improve your girl CV....if they are good you put the name on it, if they are not so brilliant you just need to count them...I am joking...
ah Petr, very nice them..
one question: when you come back you are going to run the marathon?? eh eh I read in your blog that you are always walking..bravo... anyway when you are around like you, travelling so much, you spend a lot of energies, so please eat properly (and not hesitate to increase your budget 4 good food)...and come back thinner than how you are now... :-)
By the way, I enjoyed a lot your description of Nicaragua...I gave me the chance to discover a country I was not considering at all...I am now interested in visiting it...thankssssss a lot..
Now I am going to bed... I am still a ticker unfortunatelly...
Take care.
A presto

Benjamin on

Mate, what date is it today?

What eeeeva! Happy Birthday to the world's greatest travel-establisher, to the ACCA, the "creature" made for export! All the best, may you be healthy and never lose the motivation of discovering more and more and more. Learn from the people and places you go to, hope you'll make a lot of damn good experiences!

I'll keep reading your blogs mate.

luxguy on

Faran, many thanks. I have almost forgotten about my birthday :-)). You are my the most loyal blog follower, and I really appreciate!! I will do my best not to disappoint your expectations!

luxguy on

Vince, I am so happy you like the blog. Up until now, I love creating new and new entries.
Speaking of walking, man, I have so much time that walking keeps me a bit busy. Also, I consider it as a small supplement of goint to a gym :-)).
Great to hear that you now consider Nicaragua!! Actually, I was hoping that you guys will eventually want to get to know this fabulous country. It is really worth it, you will not regret if you come here.
Yes, you are a ticker, but I have no doubts about you correct intentions how to live and enjoy the life ;-)

Vince on

you are our lonely planet now..If you continue like this with the description of the places, I will have a lot of choices for the next holidays..
Enjoy and drink a beer for me............
Ciao ciao




Alex on

I didn't miss it ... Happy B Day Pete!

I will write some further lines during the weekend... :0

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