Isla de Ometepe: Relaxed volcanic island in Lake Nicaragua

Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua. There are places that you like straight away and that don’t let go so quickly. This is what happened to Isla de Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua.

Even the arrival by ferry offers a magnificent and unique panorama. Two mighty cone volcanoes that want to be climbed, embedded in a green landscape and a fabulous tranquility make the Isla de Ometepe a very special idyllic place in Central America. We were so surprised and captivated by the volcanic island that it became the most lasting highlight in the memories of our visit to Central America.

Ometepe is an extremely calm and relaxed island in the middle of the huge lake of Nicaragua and the world’s largest volcanic island in a south water lake. It consists of the two volcanoes Concepción in the north and Maderas in the south, which are connected by a narrow land bridge and give it the shape of an eight.

Many of the residents of Ometepe live on the Agriculture, mainly from the cultivation of plantains, tobacco and watermelons. More and more farmers are producing on one environmentally sustainable waybecause the volcanic ash makes the country very fertile. That some people from the Cattle breeding living is unmistakable on the streets. Regularly you have to avoid the herds and let them pass.

Ometepe is still considered to be real insider tip off the beaten track. However, this will certainly change in the next few years. At the moment, most of the accommodations are still quite simple cabinas, rooms or dormitories with shared bathrooms. Due to the demand, more and more hotels with better comfort are being created, which does not necessarily benefit the originality of the island. Nevertheless, many parts of the island have retained their naturalness. With the construction of an airfield near Moyogalpa, more and more tourists are coming to the quiet island who shy away from the longer way by ferry.

At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be much on Ometepe, but the activities available can be done quite quickly three to four days to fill. In addition to climbing an active volcano, relaxing in mineral springs or kayaking on Lake Nicaragua, there are many more things to experience.

We will show you what you can do on the island of Ometepe so that your stay is varied and exciting.

Climb a volcano

The Concepcion volcano (1,610 meters) is one of the most active volcanoes in Nicaragua and last erupted in 2010. Hot sulfur vapor is still rising from his crater and he could break out again at any time. Nevertheless, you can climb the volcano with a guide in around 10 hours. The hike begins before dawn and is considered to be very difficult and exhausting. The last section of the tour runs over scree to the edge of the crater.

Since we lived in Mérida, we chose to trek on the inactive for convenience Maderas volcano (1,394 meters) decided. This up to 8-hour hike is really tough. Surrounded by thick cloud forest and lush greenery, you climb and slide over fallen trees and make your way on the muddy and muddy paths due to the constant moisture. A cool hikethat we loved and one unforgettable experience has become.

Kayaking on Lake Nicaragua

A great way to see the island from a different perspective is to go on a kayak tour on Lake Nicaragua. One of the most popular destinations is Isla de los Monos (monkey island), live on the spider monkey. The peculiarity: nowhere else on Ometepe there are spider monkeys.

One is also very popular and really beautiful Kayaking on the Rio Istiánthat winds lazily through the isthmus between the two volcanoes. In this green marshland have huge carpets of plants on the surface and large gnarled trees grow in the water. You can see a lot of birds while paddling through the river landscape. With a little luck, you can even see turtles and caimans.

The wind and current on Lake Nicaragua are very strong, especially between January and March not to underestimate. We met two women who drifted so far on the lake that they had to be brought back ashore by boat. So try to paddle as close to the bank as possible. Even if this means that the way to the river is longer, you are still faster.

At Caballito`s Mar, the largest provider in Mérida, you can at one guided kayak tour to the Rio Istián for 20 – 25 USD and even take the 3 km to the river mouth by boat. Or you can do it like us and rent a kayak around the river on your own to explore. We paid $ 5 per hour for a single kayak, or a maximum of $ 15 per day. The kayaks are in good condition and life jackets are also required. On the road from Merida to Santa Cruz we saw two other kayak providers and some accommodations also rent kayaks.

Explore the island with a mobile pedestal

You are with a scooter or motorcycle flexible and you can individually start on an exploration tour. Since Ometepe is not very big, you can even circle the island on a full day if you start early.

That’s how we thought it and one Scooter rented through our accommodation in Mérida ($ 20 / day). As it turned out after a short while, that was it not a good idea. The 6 km to the cobbled street in Santa Cruz was a real ordeal. The small scooter tires barely made it over the scree on the rocky road, everything jerked and wobbled and we feared that the scooter would soon break in two. With a motorcycle the route is still not pleasant, but it is much easier to master. So we can really give you a scooter recommend only for paved roads (the road from Moyogalpa south to Altagracia, Santa Cruz and Balgüe).

A really cool alternative is one Quad (also called ATV), which one e.g. can rent in Moyogalpa. So you can easily get over the Holperstraße and have one more a good dose of fun there.

Get to know the original life on Ometepe

You will experience a nice contrast to the already quite touristy Moyogalpa with one Visit to the villages on the south side of the Maderas volcano. You can still do that on a walk along the small paths off the main road original and real life of the residents see. People live with their pets and farm animals on a property, wash their laundry by hand at a washing area in the garden or directly in the lake and there are hardly any motorized vehicles. The only drawback to this excursion is the extremely bad and rocky road from Santa Cruz, on which it is difficult to get on.

Bathing in the Cascada San Ramón

This 50 m high waterfall is one of the highlights on Ometepe. The 4 km long hiking trail starts at the Estación Biológica in San Ramón (entrance fee 3 USD) and leads steeply up the last 2 km to the beautiful Cascada San Ramón, which is on one moss-covered rock wall falls down. We did not visit the waterfall ourselves, but other travelers praised us from the refreshing cooling under the remarkable waterfall.

Enjoy the panoramic view at Punta Jesús María

Punta Jesús María is a narrow sandbar that protrudes almost one kilometer into Lake Nicaragua. You have one at the end of the sandbar fantastic panoramic view to both Ometepe volcanoes. In addition, you should here most beautiful sunsets can see. Punta Jesús María is 4 km south of Moyogalpa, admission: 1 USD.

Walk in the Charco Verde nature reserve

The Charco Verde nature reserve offers protection for many bird species with its dense forest. A path leads around that emerald green lagoon Charco Verde around, where you can enjoy the peace and nature. Halfway there is a stop at Playa Bancon for swimming and relaxing, after all, this sheltered sandy beach is one of them most beautiful beaches on Ometepe.

You can then take a refreshing drink on the terrace of the Hotel Charco Verde with a view of the lake or take a bath in Lake Nicaragua. Changing rooms are available.

Spend an afternoon in the Ojo de Agua mineral springs

The mineral springs Ojo de Agua invite you to swim, swim and relax (admission 2 USD). As one of the most popular destinations on Ometepe, it is usually appropriate full and loud, so it’s rather not for those seeking peace. For a refreshing bath in the tropical heat, however, the two large swimming pools are ideal.

Riding in nature

Almost everywhere on Ometepe you can go horseback riding alone or with a guide and enjoy the wonderful green nature.

Marvel at ancient petroglyphs

Everywhere on Ometepe you can find petroglyphs (pictures carved in stone) that date from the pre-Columbian period and are among the most important regions in the world for rock art. The Finca Porvenir in Santa Cruz as well behind the finca Magdalena in Balgüe are some of the best places to see petroglyphs at their place of origin.

The best comes last. After all the activities and explorations, we don’t want to withhold what you see on Ometepe definitely not miss it may Namely:

Chill in the hammock and do nothing
splash around in Lake Nicaragua
Enjoy the sunset while drinking a toña and marvel at the countless fireflies on the water
absolutely do a volcano trekking

The family-run and very warm accommodation Rosa’s Lake Cabins * is idyllically situated on the shores of Lake Nicaragua in Mérida. The two colorful bungalows with private bathrooms and two simpler budget rooms with shared bathrooms are pleasant on the spacious grounds distributed to the family. Hammocks invite you to laze around, relax and enjoy. Plus you get fantastic sunsets commanded.

Our experiences with dinner in Mérida were very mixed and ranged from “fantastic” to “preferably not again”. It tasted best to us directly in our accommodation Rosa’s Lake Cabins. Unfortunately, the family does not have a menu yet, but Mama Rosa can prepare some if requested very tasty meals to. Super delicious omelettes, sandwiches and pancakes, juicy burritos and the best fried and filled tacos in Nicaragua.

Also in Loana restaurant on the main street you can eat very well. Only that long wait We would have to complain about the food. However, it is super fresh and very tasty.

Right next to our accommodation is the most famous guesthouse in Mérida: the Los Chocoyos. You can also eat here in the restaurant as a non-guest. The portions are large and fill you up. However, the burrito consists largely of fried rice and the friendliness of the family is already suffering from tourism.

We were really disappointed with the restaurant Caballito`s Mar. The food was not bad, but also not particularly tasty. The food was unfortunately already cold when it was served and a clear end for us.

From San Jorge (Rivas) drive regularly Ferries (almost hourly, 50 Cordobas / person) and Boats (2-3 times a day, 35 Cordobas / person) in about an hour to Ometepe. The first ferry leaves at 7:00 a.m., the last at 5:45 p.m. Almost all of them cross over to Moyogalpa, the tourist center of Ometepe. Busy taxi drivers are also waiting for visitors there.

If you arrive by bus in Rivas from the north or south on your way to Ometepe, the bus drivers will try to get you off at the roundabout towards San Jorge. Here, however, you only have the option of coming to San Jorge by taxi or mototaxi (at least 30 Cordobas / person). The bus from the Rivas bus terminal runs every 30 minutes (except on Sundays) for 7 Cordobas / person to San Jorge.

The ferry connection between Altagracia on Ometepe and Granada was established some time ago set. There are no plans to resume the route.

The fastest and most convenient way to get from A to B on Ometepe is this taxi. Unfortunately, this is not exactly cheap. When we arrived at Ometepe, we missed the last bus and had to take a taxi, which cost us a whopping 30 USD for the Moyogalpa – Mérida route.

The yellow ones Chicken buses are against very inexpensive, but also slowly and drive at irregular intervals. Buses run almost every hour between Moyogalpa and Altagracia.

However, if, like us, you are staying on the southern part of the island in Mérida, the bus for excursions on the island is relatively uninteresting, as it only goes from / to Moyogalpa in 2½ to 3 hours three times a day. He always makes a stop in Altagracia.

At the day of departure However, you can easily take the bus between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. on the main street in Mérida (35 Cordobas / person). It’s best to check with the locals again the day before you leave, exactly when the bus leaves, because the departure times are constantly changing.

Have you ever been to Ometepe? And did the island blow you like we did? What did you like best there? We look forward to your comment!

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