I’ve been absolutely horrible about updating the blog. So bad that my father has joined Facebook, something inconceivable, so he can keep up with what I’m doing. So I’m going to make more of an effort – and thanks to all the fans that have stuck by me! I also put a lot of content on Facebook, so if you haven’t liked the page, please check it out here.
I’m going to start back with Ometepe and try to catch up because San Salvador is amazing and I can’t wait to tell you more about it. My last days in Granada were really special too!
Ometepe Island in Nicaragua is pretty spectacular. It’s an island formed by 2 volcanoes in the middle of a freshwater lake. Lake Nicaragua has the only freshwater sharks in the world, and the island is the worlds largest in a freshwater lake. It’s a pretty incredible place – funky, old-fashioned and rustic but filled with charm. The people are laid back, charismatic and very friendly.
I had a very difficult time leaving this relaxing place. It is excellent for the single traveler – you feel very safe walking around, crime is low and the locals will help you find your way around. It’s not uncommon to see a herd of horses crossing the road, or an
oxcart delivering drums of water or rice being carted to town on the back of a horse. You’ll also find howler (and other, but howlers are my favorite) monkeys, right by the side of the road and also the beautiful yellow throated parrot – beautiful and a little otherworldly. I rented a bike and had a great time just seeing what came up on the road. There’s no a lot of car traffic so you feel safe and relaxed.
If you have the opportunity to make it to this beautiful island, make the time. It’s a special place.
How to get to Ometepe
There are two ferries a week from Granada. They take about 6 hours and you arrive in Altagracia. More reliable is to take a bus to Rivas (from Managua or Granada) and catch a cab to the ferry station (about US$2/pp). That ferry drops you in Moyogalpa which is a nice base of operations to book tours or take the bus.
What to do
San Ramon Waterfall: Beautiful, with a medium difficulty hike to the cascada.
Reachable by chicken bus or hire a driver to take you half way up.
El Ojo de Aqua: If you’re in need of some r&r, this is the place. A natural spring that’s been guided into a pool. You can get cerveza and some food and kick back in the provided chairs, or have a nice swim.
Volcanoes: There are two that can be climbed – Maderas (the muddy one), or Conception (the difficult, active one). Conception has a 1000 foot viewing station, which people say is good enough, because much of the time the views are better there than the top due to the vapors and clouds. I didn’t attempt either, so I can’t comment but make sure you’re in pretty good shape. A lot of tough looking guys came back looking wrecked by both treks.
Punta Jesus Maria: A little slice of heaven in the form of a peninsula overlooked by Volcan Conception. Walk, bike, horseback ride or take the bus – great swimming, limited facilities.
Festivals: Ask around when you’re there – Altagratia has a bullfighting ring and fairgrounds – if it’s active, definitely check it out. Beware pickpockets.
Charco Verde: This park and sanctuary has quiet and scenic beaches shaded by big, old trees and with the ever changing but always dramatic backdrop of the volcano Concepción. And howler monkeys – my favorite!
Where to Stay in Ometepe:
If you’re looking for a hostel as a base of operations between tours, I recommend
Yogi’s Hostel in Moyogalpa, run by an amazing guy named Robinson. He’s warm, grew up on the island and speaks perfect English. He can rent you a bike, set up a tour or point you in the right direction. The hostel is clean, well run and has some extremely comfortable hammocks.
What to Avoid in Ometepe:
Not much to avoid here, but do make a point of not frequenting the Indio Viejo Hostel or Restaurant. It’s owned by a pretty shady character, accused of some awful things. You can read all about that, here.
Solo Traveler Rating: 5/5 (Go For It!)