Isla Ometepe, Nicaragua

After two days chilling on the beach in Apoyo, we left for an adventure towards Ometepe. The island of Ometepe is located in the largest lake in Nicaragua, on the South-West of the country. The island is basically made of 2 volcanoes – Concepcion and Maderas. To get to the island, you need to take a ferry (50 Cordobas per person, about 1h30 of travel) from San Jorge port to Moyogalpa on Ometepe. We took a shuttle from our hostel to San Jorge, without booking our ferry ahead or really knowing which ferry we would get on. We had again a good karma, and we got on the next ferry about 20min later. We also got offer rentals for scooters, motorcycles and ATV while buying our tickets. We were offered an ATV for 80$US, all prepared and ready for us at the port on the other side. We decided to wait and try to deal better once on Ometepe.

The ride in itself if quite something – we all got packed on the 2 levels of the ferry, with barely enough space to get up and walk around during the trip. The largest ferry also carry quite a few cars and motorcycle to the other side. The large ferries are quite stable and we didn’t feel sea sick at all (although we are both not very sensitive to it).

Once on the other side, our mission was to find a quad. We knew our accommodation was quite far from the port (about 1h ride) and figured that the quad would be the best and fun way to get there. We were told taxis would cost us about 30$US each way, and we didn’t want to lose too much travel time with the local bus (2$US but 2-3 times the time). As we walked out of the port we met a very nice lady who was offering rental for scooters and quads. She offered 70$US for 24h rental, insurance included, helmets, emergency phone number and information. Their company is located a few minutes walk from the port, on the main street, right in front of the Pali market on road 64 (the only one!). We decided to rent the quad and after taking photos of the entire ATV, we strapped our backpacks to it and rode towards Volcano Maderas and our next stop – la Finca Madgalena.

I was absolutely amazed at how nice the roads were on the island. I was somehow expected some dirt roads with tons of holes and bumps, but there was barely any traffic, the paved roads were in really good condition and the drive was beautiful. Main hazards were animals (pigs, horses, dogs, chickens) crossing the road and being mindful of the speed bumps. From the main road we rode 22km until we turned right towards Volcano Maderas. From there we drove until we could turn left and follow the beach side on the road leading to Balgue. From there, the entrance to the Finca is indicated (a bit late, watch for the sign) on the right hand side next to a dirt road heading uphill. It’s 1km from there until the reception.

We had booked a private room at the Finca because a good friend of mine travelled there 10 years ago. It is a very old, rustic building where they make home-made food and also work to help protect the forest and the reserve area on the volcano. They have coffee plantations and it is the trailhead for hiking the Volcano Maderas as well. During the day, you need to pay 3$US to access the trails to help maintain the area. There is also a small ecological center with information about the volcano and its flora.

Our room was rustic. Like very. Double bed with bug net, 4 wooden walls with a door with a lock, and a small window. All the luxury for a beautiful 8$US in total. Showers and toilets were common downstairs. Our time there was mainly hammock, exploring the gardens, eating local food, and sleeping. In the morning, we left early to hike a 1.3km trail leading to a few areas with petroglyphs in the mountain. It was interesting to see all the rocks, still in their original state and place, with the carvings and drawings so clearly visible.

After the hike, we packed our bags, struggled to start the quad (we supposedly need to get more biceps) and rode back to Moyogalpa. It was faster than the day before, as most of the ride was downhill to head back to town. We left the quad with no issues, got our deposit back (we had to leave 100$US for damage deposit) and had lunch in town before taking the next ferry. The ferry ride back was even more crowded than before, and we actually did the entire trip outside, standing with our backpacks on our shoulders. We took a taxi to San Juan del Sur (20$US) and arrived to our next hostel, ready for beach life for the last part of our trip.

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