Mid August 2016
The twin volcanic peaks of Ometepe island rise above the brown waters of lake Nicaragua like two mysterious pyramids. Normally shrouded in secrecy and cloud or mist, the peaks are rarely seen, and they provide a landmark for all travellers coming to the islands.
Our foray on these islands would revolve around these volcanoes as does most of the things that happen on the island of Ometepe. After a rather pleasant ferry ride across to the islands and we were soon racing against the rain to find accommodation.
With our hospedaje and lodgings organised we headed into town to talk about possible tours and have some food. Although both vertically challenging and the hiking difficult, we decided on hiking Maderas the southern volcano. It was shorter by 200m but it was more our style with a cloud forest and small natural lake set in the crater.
Opting to wait a day before hiking we hired a scooter and headed south to a natural lagoon called Charco Verde. First stop on the visit was a butterfly reserve where thousands of these winged beauties bounced through the air in search of food and partners.
A small section was reserved to some birds and we enjoyed watching the hummingbirds move with sharp determination. Back on the trail we skirted the lagoon which attracts many water birds. In the canopy a lone howler monkey looked rather depressed and we made the assumption he was a juvenile that had recently been removed from the troop and was still trying to find a new group of friends. We did spot 2 other howler monkeys later on the trail and they too seemed a little unimpressed with life at that moment.
On a small volcanic sand beach we spent the afternoon relaxing whilst small vultures soared on the uplifts overhead and heron stalked their pray on the shores. From our position we had a great view of our prize for the next day, the peak of Volcano Maderas.
On the return to the main town of Moyogalpo we stopped at punta Jesus (Jesus Point) where a long sand bar stretches into the lake and provides an ideal location to enjoy the sunset with the 2 volcanoes providing a perfect backdrop.
As we ate dinner on the humid streets of Moyogalpo we watched the sky and the ominous flashes of lightening that seemed to be creeping closer. It was late that night that the skies released their deluge and intense lightening that kept us awake until our alarm at 5am.
Being muddy at the best of times we made the executive decision that, with this amount of rain, the trail to the top of Maderas would be impassable and the roads just driving there would be dangerous. It was a disappointment but as we have learnt many times on this journey, we are at the mercy of mother nature.
When the sun did finally breakthrough and dry the island out a little, we took our scooter to the lower banks of Volcan Maderas to get a look at some of the petroglyphs that are sprinkled across the island. Negotiating the wet, muddy trail in our thongs we located a few of the rock carvings, but with little interactive information on them we continued back to the entry point, trying to spot as much wild life as possible.
On the isthmus we stopped for an easy lunch with a great view over the lake. The beach and wind seemed like a perfect kite boarding location and Steve was dreaming of getting some wind in his sails. But it wasn’t to be and we packed up and headed back to town, stopping en route to check out a troop of monkeys and a beautiful cloud dome covering the peak of Conception Volcano.
The next day we were back on the mainland and heading south to the famous beaches of San Juan del Sur. Chatting with a few tourists on the local bus we understood how we were to go about finding our accommodation for the night.
After refuelling ourselves, locating the shuttle bus and purchasing food for the next few days we were deposited on the rocky shoreline of Playa Maderas. Fully loaded with our bags we stumbled the 1 km to a quieter beach and as we came around the last bend the beach started moving. At first we thought it was the heat getting to us but on closer inspection it was hundreds of hermit crabs skittering across the beach.
At our lodgings, directly on the shore, we were surprised to have the entire establishment to ourselves. It was the perfect location to relax n the beach, sleep in the hammock and swim when the sea was calm enough. Steve made the most of the local surf and attempted to catch a few waves which he enjoyed.
We jumped at the chance top take some horses onto the beach but the tour was more a slow walk along a dirt road which eventually led to the beach where the horses felt the relief as much as we did, striking up a gallop on the soft sand.
Feeling at ease we relaxed a little too much and let our guard down whilst enjoying the waters of the pacific, but what was taken was nothing to the experiences we have been having on this incredible journey.
Next, our final stop in Latin America…….Monteverde Costa Rica.