On leaving San Juan del Sur, we hopped on another local bus (affectionately referred to as chicken buses), followed by the hour-or-so boat ride to Isla de Ometepe.
A twin volcanic island situated on the biggest lake in Nicaragua, Ometepe consists of Volcan Concepción (being the taller of the two at 1670m) and Volcan Maderas (1394m).
We visited the beach in Santo Domingo on the isthmus between the two volcanoes and the natural pool of Ojo de Agua by bicycle.
There are many fincas (farms) on the island, particularly on the Maderas side, with most of them offering accommodation and the opportunity to see their organic and permaculture practices close up. Sleeping options varied from simple hammocks to dorm beds to the relative luxury of thatched bamboo huts. We pampered ourselves with the latter.
Once again we were surrounded by abundant flora and fauna.
Some of the activities on the finca pushed us further out of our comfort zone – one yoga instructor in particular was rather keen on strangers staring into each others’ eyes! We also experienced the aftermath of hurricane Otto, although he’d been downgraded to just a ‘tropical storm’ by the time he reached us on the west side of the country.
The two storey mirador (viewpoint) was ideal for viewing Concepción on a clear day.
We were advised to hire a trailbike for the 11km road trip to San Ramón. It turned out to be good advice as the road features steep hills in places and mainly consists of mud and rocks, some of which are quite nasty! Also to be avoided en route were various cows, horses, pigs and chickens.
From San Ramón we took the 3km (plus) energetic hike up to the impressive cascada that the area is known for. At 40m, it is an amazing sight and you really know the water has fallen a long way when you stand under it!
Ometepe is also well known for its petroglyphs, with various sites dotted about the island. It is thought that some of these rock carvings could date as far back as 3,000 years and they depict a wide variety of images from the abstract to human forms.
Although it is possible to hike up to the top of both volcanoes, we elected to go for the less strenuous option of the Maderas mirador, about half way up one of the routes to the top (nonetheless still in the energetic category, we’d say). If you’re going all the way to the top of either volcano, you have to do so with a guide as it is very easy to get lost. Although this rule doesn’t apply if you’re only going to the mirador, we’d still highly recommend hiring a guide as we took several wrong turns on the way. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the scenery en route…
… and the view of Concepción (even taking into account the seemingly ever-present cloud) once we got there was well worth the effort.
Next we continue our journey northward to the historic, left-wing city of León.