Before our departure from Nicaragua, we had one final visit to make – Ometepe Island. Formed by two volcanoes in the middle of Lake Nicaragua, the island is a hot spot for people looking for a different taste of Nicaragua.
To visit the island, we joined up with our friend and shipping partner to South America, Karl from Germany. Karl attempted to make a visit during the previous week during Semana Santa and was unable to secure a ferry reservation for three days before deciding to wait a week. We arrived at the ferry terminal at 7:15 and got a reservation for the 10:30 ferry. From the ferry the view of the volcanoes was incredible. To this point, the two massive volcanoes surging straight up into the sky from the lake was our favorite volcano view to this point.
Leaving the ferry, we set out to explore the island in a clockwise direction from San Jose del Sur beginning with Conception Volcano. The main roads on the island are typically paver blocks in and between the cities and mostly dirt and rocks on the extreme edges of the island keeping our speed under 30 mph on the pavers and 15 mph on the dirt.
Our first and only stop on the first day was at the Ojos de Agua near the center of the island. This is a huge swimming pool continuously fed by cold water. Temperatures at noon were already mid nineties with near 100% humidity so a cold, refreshing dip was necessary. We swam, swung off the rope swing, read and even enjoyed a coco loco beside the pool. In the evening, spider monkeys curiously meandered through the trees above our camper. Later, we experienced our first major downpour that lasted more than an hour which we loved and hated. The sound of the rain was relaxing and the truck and camper needed a good bath, but the humidity during the evening and following day was miserable.
We decided a big breakfast was necessary before embarking on our second day’s adventures. Laughlin and I cooked a breakfast scramble of potatoes, onions, mushrooms and eggs and Karl provided the coffee, milk and sugar. It is rare that temperatures allow us to cook a hearty breakfast such as this so it was a treat for everyone.
Following breakfast, we set out to explore the roads around Madera to the southeast. Banana trees surrounded the villages around this part of the island which appeared to be the main source of work for people living in these areas. The stares we received in these small villages were the worst of our entire trip to this point, but we realized they rarely have vehicles traveling down the rough, remote roads, especially vehicles like ours. Around 11:30 we arrived at the parking area where we would begin earning the evening’s beer.
In 90 degree heat, we left our trucks and began walking straight uphill towards the waterfalls of San Ramon. Initially, we powered through the hike despite soaking through our shirts and hats with sweat. As we neared the final 1km of the hike, the canyon narrowed increasing the humidity, depriving us of any hope of a breeze and dropping our spirits as the creek bed was dry. We figured the man selling entrance tickets or the four people that passed us hiking down would have said something, so we skeptically continued up the increasingly steep trail. Finally, we arrived at the top where the waterfall was flowing and a nice pool of frigid water was waiting for us to swim in. It was a refreshing treat after a short but difficult hike.
To finish the day, we camped at Hotel Punta where cold showers waited. Unfortunately the pool was being cleaned, but as long as we could shower, life looked good. It was a great place to spend the evening watching the sun set and enjoying our hard earned beer. As a side note, the hotel had a small deer tied to a tree which was quite sad but he seemed to be happy. More than ten times he attempted to steal our rug as I sat on the stairs watching him and each time as the rug lifted, he scared himself and ran away. It was hilarious and we became quite fond of him. Laughlin even named him Doeraeme (get it?(we realize he is a buck but still)).
Early the next morning we set out to hop on a ferry back to the mainland. We struck out getting a reservation from all three ferry operators and had to settle on waiting until the next day which was a bit of a bummer at first, but ended up being great as we got some cheap beer from the grocery store and returned to the same hotel where a clean pool awaited us. Needless to say, it was a great way to spend a random Thursday.
Friday morning, we woke up and drove straight to the ferry terminal in preparation to board. It was rather uneventful getting back to the mainland, but we did see the worst deer mount ever in the terminal. After we arrived, we set out to run errands and close the chapter on nearly a month on our beloved Nicaraguan adventures.