Missing tourists.

Trip Start Oct 06, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Nicaragua  ,
Thursday, November 25, 2004

Isla de Ometepe is a picture perfect volcanic island in Lake Nicaragua, formed by the now extinct Volcán Maderas (1394 meters) and the dormant Volcán Concepción (1610 meters). Carmen had to leave for the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica while Steve and Catherine are staying on a different part of the island. So I have joined up with Uli (who I studied Spanish with in Xela) from Germany, Bill from Canada as well as Steve and Ben from the UK. We are here to climb the smaller Volcán Maderas. When we arrive on the island, we hear that two tourists from UK and USA are missing on the eight day or so, after trying to climb Volcán Maderas without a guide. Apparently they set off from their hotel one early morning and never returned to pick up their bags. To me it seems strange that you can get lost on an extinct volcano, even considering that it is covered by deep cloud forest. But then, what do I know. The rumors are going, and we are debating what's happened to them. We figure that if you walk downwards and follow one of the trails it will lead you somewhere, the island and volcano isn't that big. So we settle on it being an accident or possibly some sort of foul play. But then I guess we could be totally wrong and that they somehow just got lost in the dense jungle. The weather has been kind of nasty the last few days with heavy fog and rain. Nicaraguan army and helicopters, as well as a private rescue team have been searching for them for days now without luck.

The five of us decide to hire a guide to take us to the top. It's a 3.5 hour steep and muddy walk to the crater lake at the top. It's cloudy and raining, but extremely hot and humid, so we are hoping for a nice swim at the top. When we reach the lake, the fog is getting denser and denser, the wind picks up and it's actually getting a bit chilly. I decide to skip the swim in the muddy lake. The walk up was nice enough, but I had hoped to spot Volcán Concepción from one of the viewpoints along the trail. Not a chance in this weather, we didn't see anything but fog, dense jungle and a few howler monkeys on the way up, so I am debating with myself if it was all worth the struggle. Suddenly it all clears up and we can see the whole crater lake, surrounded by thick vegetation covered rims. Nice! On the way back down we also spot a completely cloudless Volcán Concepción. I guess it was worth it after all. We are racing down the mountain toward Finca Magdalena and it's ice cold beer. Totally deserved after a total of seven hours of steep mud paths.

Newsflash December 5th: from BBC's News website....

Family's tribute to lost Briton

....I can see that two decomposed bodies were found by rescue workers on Saturday 4th. The bodies has not been identified yet, but it says it's likely to be the two missing tourists. Absolutely tragic.
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