We travelled to Ometepe Island from San Juan Del Sur, you take the ferry over to the island from a town called San Jorge. The ferry across cost 50 Nicaraguan (about $2 USD) and takes around an hour.
Ometepe Island is such a hidden gem, if you are somebody that is maybe a bit nervous of travelling within Nicaragua this is a place to gain some confidence. It is so safe, you feel so safe. They’ve been able to cultivate this atmosphere where you can walk anywhere at anytime and know you are safe. Horses, cattle pigs and chickens graze free along the sides of the roads and get collected close to dusk, this probably due to the fact that multiple people have hit livestock on scooters and ended up gravely hurt. My only issues with this island is although creates a small quaint atmosphere, its actually pretty big and transportation can be costly. To rent a scooter or dirt bike for a day is $20USD, a four wheeler is $60USD, a side by side is $70USD. If you are staying in Moyogalpa where the ferry comes in to get to the other side of the island where the mineral pools, or waterfall are its close to 30kms and a $20-$30 USD cab ride one way.
Some of the main pulls to the island are:
1. Concepcion Volcano. Boasting the hardest hike in Nicaragua you can decide to do two different treks up this active volcano. Hiking up to 1000m to the look-out which takes approx 6-8 hours, or hiking up to 1610m which is the top of the volcano, taking anywhere from 9-14 hours. Obviously everything depends on your abilities. To do this hike you are forced to have a guide, from what I could understand some people got lost trekking on their own and now they have a guard station which you can’t pass unless you have a guide present.
2. Maderas Volcano and Waterfall. Maderas is a dormant volcano with crater lagoon, it is much more like trekking in a rain forest which can prove to be difficult as it is much more likely to rain and be sloppy. Maderas Waterfall is anywhere from a 3-4 hour hike, I’ve read some people taking 5 hours to get in, which just seems crazy. Mum, Dad and I were running late on time so we hoofed it in and our round trip, after spending 20 minutes at the waterfall was around 2.5 hours. We were all dripping in sweat but still, its possible to cut your time down. The waterfall was $3 USD to enter. Here is a video of us at the waterfall.
3. Mineral Pools. 24 kms from Moyogalpa these mineral pools have the most translucent water. They say that when you swim in it it takes 10 years off your age, well I’m not sure I look 19 today haha. To be honest, it looks just like a big swimming pool to me. Its $5 USD to enter.
Our Day From….Hell (no point beating around the bush here, it was awful)
I remember back in Bali with my friend Ness or even in Thailand with my cousin Serena, I always swore I would never ride a scooter. To me it just looked like an accident waiting to happen, so many ways you can hurt yourself. It’s probably important to mention that I even get a bit nervous riding a bike. I have no idea why, I grew up around dirt bikes, four wheelers, 3 wheelers. Anyways, we wanted to get out to the Maderas Waterfall and Mum and I were going to share a four wheeler and Dad was taking a dirt bike. Well, there were no four wheelers, so in a moment of bad judgement we thought, oh well I’m sure we can ride scooters, look at all these people getting around on them it can’t be too hard. So the next morning we wake up to our scooters out in the parking lot waiting for us. Dad had to hand over his passport in case we crash them…that wont happen though, clearly Wes will be fine. Right from the start, mum and I even pulling out of the driveway was a disaster, I’m pretty sure mum ended up pulling out into oncoming traffic and then on the opposite side of the road, okay, well now we know turning is an issue. So we all pull over but decide that really to get to the waterfall is only a couple turns and we will just take it slow. I think it is important to mention at this time that we were told that its recommended to not take a scooter to the waterfall, there is a section of unpaved road that is better managed on a dirt bike or four wheeler. But it looked like we wouldn’t be on it that long and ready lots of blogs of people that had done it with no issues. So lets go!
The entire journey to the waterfall was about 30-35kms and took us well over two and a half hours. The unpaved road was terrible, huge rocks, so bumpy, my hands were numb from gripping the steering wheel, my arms were sore from trying to keep the bike straight as it’s bounced like plinko down the road. But we made it! Now its around 1:30pm and we know the hike is suppose to take 3.5 -5 hours and we have a two hour ride home, everything is seeming very crunched. So we book it up this waterfall, going up took us an hour and 10 minutes. Thank god weve been doing lots of hiking, we must be getting fit! Right as we get to the waterfall it starts pouring rain, honestly it seemed like the moment we could see it Mother Nature just started letting lose.
We get back down around 4:00pm and we are drenched, so muddy, and staring at these ******* bikes that we have to make it all the way back, and now in the dark. So we get started, I can tell right away that the rain has made things wayyyy worse. I’m climbing up a hill and just as my tire is cresting a rock it comes lose and I lurch to the left and try, try and steady myself and go down hard on my right side with the bike on top of me. Then all of a sudden I’m back on my feet, its amazing how your adrenaline kicks in and you do things without even thinking about. After awhile I stop my Dad and let him know, I must have looked in quite the state, blood and scrapes down my right arm and leg, covered in mud. And the bike, well I guess it’s a little banged up…oops. They just have his passport right?….
We stop when we are back on the pavement and try and clean me up a bit, I put on my jacket to try and hide some of my injuries and we start off again, about another 2 hours to go here. Well, doesnt it start pouring, I don’t mean raining, I mean poooooouring, sheets of rain smashing down on you one after the other. Every valley you go down into it pools of water, but its now dark and we are already going to be late getting the bikes back so I grit my teeth and keep going. The rain persists for about and hour and a half adding some lovely insult to injury – literally.
Finally at close to 7pm we pull into the hostel and there’s a bunch of guys waiting. The owner of the bikes, the body man, the mechanic, a translator….I think maybe they’ve done this a couple times. Well, I hope off that bike and leave right away, not before one of the guys gets a nice look at my batter leg though, great. So Mum and I leave Dad to deal with it, thats what Dads are for right?!?! After some comparing pictures and back and forth they settle on $15 USD for damages, right onnnn, I can handle that.
By night and into the next couple days I am so sore, so my punishment for stupid decisions is I couldn’t hike the volcano, which I’m pretty sure was the main reason we all came to Ometepe. Oh well, could always be worse right??!
Onto Granada, Nicaragua for a day and then Utila, Honduras for some beach timmmme! Happy New Years Everybody!