Isla de Ometepe

by Alison, 20/05/2014

Situated in the middle of Lake Nicaragua, Ometepe is an impressive sight. Its two volcanoes rise gracefully out of the water adding depth and perspective to this enormous lake. The island is only accessible by ferry and in our opinion is well worth a trip. We were trying to maximise our beach time on this holiday and for this reason we only spent two days on this beautiful island. However the island is quite compact so even with only two nights to spend there, we came away with lots of happy memories. 

We stayed at the Hostal Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz village. The rooms were basic and clean but came with the most stunning view. Our first evening was spent going for a stroll, then chilling out on our porch, photographing and taking in the beautiful scenery. 

While walking around we came across these two fellas taking themselves for a stroll. Cows, horses, chickens and pigs. Everything roams freely in Nicaragua. 
Due to our short timeframe we only had one full day on Ometepe and we wanted to make the most of it. The two volcanoes - Maderas and Concepcion - can be hiked with the aid of a guide. We debated hiking one of the volcanoes but after doing some research opinions seemed to be mixed on whether the views and scenery were worth the 8-10hour hiking times required. As our time was limited in the end we decided against it.

Instead we rented bikes. I'll be the first to admit I am not a confident cyclist. I'm ok over tarmac but on Ometepe that is limited to say the least. About 5 mins from the hostel the pavement stopped and the dirt road began. Let's just say Ollie was very patient as I was definitely the one holding up the show. However by the end of the day I was pretty proud of myself. I managed not to fall off though there were some sections where I gave up on the bike and figured I was quicker walking. To me it makes perfect sense why horses are still a viable mode of transport. I think they must be a lot comfier then bumping your way on a bicycle or in a taxi.

Our first stop of the day was the Rio Istian. Here we kayaked up the river. Compared to everywhere else we had been this area was extremely lush and green. A small insight into what the countryside must look like at the end of the wet season. Wildlife abounds on the river and you are pretty much guaranteed to see water birds, cayman, terrapins and monkeys.  The cayman definitely sent shivers down my spine. In reality I know they were probably too small to attack but the glassy stare, the speed at which they move and the way they concealed themselves definitely made you very aware that you would lose some fingers and toes if they put their mind to it.

The second stop was Finca Magdelena. This is an organic coffee plantation which is also the starting point for one of the routes up Maderas. While neither of us are coffee drinkers, we know a lot of people who love it, making it the perfect present to bring home. Our backpack was definitely a lot heavier on the cycle home. The plantation is aged and well worn but in surroundings this lush and beautiful does that really matter.

For food, we divided our time between the restaurant at the hostel which was basic and filling and treating ourselves at El Zopilote Finca Ecologica. We had tried to stay here but unfortunately they were full. El Zopilote is a working organic farm with a sprawl of traditional thatched huts scattered across the hillside. Extremely relaxed and definitely alternative. If you are looking for vegan / gluten free / super foods this is definitely the place to come. It is also a great place if you're time rich but cash poor as there are plenty of opportunities to work for your accommodation.

All too soon we found ourselves taking a final look at the volcanoes as we headed back to the mainland, and back to the beach.

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