Every country has them, these very special places. Places that fascinate me from the start and don’t let go so quickly. One of these places is the Isla Ometepe twin volcanic island in Nicaragua.
Twin volcanic island? What is that again now? So, the Isla (island) Ometepe is located in Lake Nicaragua and actually consists of two volcanoes. With 270 km2, it is the world’s largest volcanic island in a freshwater lake. So the island is not small, it is estimated that around 30,000 people live on it.
The journey to the island is particularly beautiful. This takes the form of a ferry from San Jorge (Rivas) and during the hour driving time, the two volcanoes Concepcion and Maderas come closer to me.
The ferry sets in Moyogalpa at what is one of the main towns on the island with Altagracia. This is small and nothing special. On the whole island there are apparently beautiful fincas to stay, which are always recommended. I am now a bit tired of traveling and just too lazy to organize the journey to nowhere on the island. Also, I don’t like to argue with the tugs at the harbor, so I head to the corner house.
This accommodation is just a few meters down the main road from the port. As with most accommodations on the island, it cannot be reserved. But I get a room and am thrilled. At $ 25 a night, it’s way over my budget. But I’m just going to treat myself to that now. The corner house is not only really nice and clean, it also has hammocks and one Insane morning meal included! Yes, have breakfast in the corner house!
My real goal is of course to explore the island. There is a bus that drives us very slowly at irregular intervals. For this reason, I deleted it right from the start. But there are tours around every corner to book the island. In the car, by motorcycle, to drive yourself or – as I decide – with a driver. Especially since I can’t really ride a motorcycle, the terrain is very demanding and probably not suitable for most Europeans. It is not because of potholes, but because it is partly very steep uphill and downhill, of course, and all over gravel roads.
So I end up at Elmer Tours and after some negotiations my tour is scratched. I put them together with Elmer and included all points of interest in the tour for me. For $ 35, Elmer drives me around the island for a day. The price is a bit high, but it is common in Nicaragua. Somehow the price of all tourist tours in the country is quite high.
When we start in the morning, I remember how much I love motorcycling. Well, at least as a passenger. It goes over hill and dale, but Elmer has the bike under control and I feel in good hands. Our first stop is that San Ramon waterfall. We cannot go all the way and have to walk for about an hour. I am prepared for everything because I checked Tripadvisor beforehand. And there people wrote “from the hike of their lives” and it sounded like it was going up extremely steep and asked one of these trips for the last.
Within an hour we arrive at the waterfall in a leisurely stroll. I am not out of breath, nor have I used the two liters of water that I carry with me. I am a little bit confused. I mean, I am Swiss and so hiking is probably in my genes, but it is not that I do gymnastics in the mountains forever and have special walking conditions. Spoiler: Back at the hotel I check the ratings again on Tripadvisor. And when I take a closer look, I notice that they all come from North Americans, who otherwise don’t travel five meters without a car. I am learning again not to trust such ratings or at least to take a closer look at them.
But back to the waterfall. This is really nice and the trip is worth it. Although not too much water falls due to the dry season, it is probably the most impressive in the Off season when it rains more. Apparently you can’t walk to the waterfall in the rainy season.
Elmer and I use the break to chat. And it gets interesting. He tells me everything about his family, his dreams and also about life on the island. When I speak to him about the planned channel, he turns into a heated monologue. I notice that I hit a nerve. The resistance is particularly high on Isla Ometepe, through which the canal is to run, which is to connect the Caribbean Sea with the Pacific. Although the majority of people in Nicaragua support canal construction, the farmers on Isla Ometepe are against it. As well as Elmer. For them, it means expropriation, livelihoods that are deprived, environmental destruction. The ground-breaking ceremony was done, but nothing has been built yet. Interested in more information about the channel and the dubious Chinese investor? There is an exciting article at the FAZ.
When we are down we go to Santo Domingo Beach. The beaches on the island are otherwise nothing special, but very beautiful here. However, the wind is strong and therefore the day for swimming is not perfect. But that should follow. Lunch is announced for the first time.
Then it goes on to Ojo de Agua. These mineral springs invite you to swim. Here you can relax and swim. Entry is $ 2, there are changing rooms and drinks. The Ojo de Auga is the most popular destination on the island and accordingly full it is mostly. Although very nice, there are definitely better places for those seeking peace.
And that would be, for example, the nature reserve and the lagoon of Charco Verde. Only a few get lost here, it is not as windy as in most other places on the island and really very beautiful. From the beach I have a perfect view of the Maderas volcano. There are many animals to see and hear in and around the lagoon. Monkeys and birds are the most common here. A wonderful trip that I can only recommend.
From Charco Verde we go to the last station where we want to watch the sunset: Am Punta Jesus Mariawho is close to Moyogalpa again. A headland leads out into Lake Nicaragua and the mood is just perfect. The sun is slowly setting, a wonderful and adventurous day is behind me and I watch the fishermen catching up with the catch of the day. A perfect end to a perfect day in my favorite country. How should life be more beautiful!
By the way, you can also climb the volcanoes on Isla Ometepe. Before you do that, better read it Report from Sally and Julien of climbing the Maderas volcano. And I highly recommend Elmer and his friendly travel agency. Although getting to Isla Ometepe takes a bit of time and may not be on your route, I recommend a detour there. You will not regret it!
Do you know Isla Ometepe too? How did you like it there?
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