Ometepe is an island made from two volcanos rising out of a huge lake that is almost as big as a sea. It doesn’t look very far away from the mainland on the map, but the ferry crossing from San Jorge takes a whole hour.
The pink splodge on this map shows where we stayed, and where we went!
The Eco Lodge was pretty cool to experience, although I wouldn’t want to stay in one on every trip I go on! It was very environmentally friendly – we weren’t too sure about the non-flushable compostable toilet though… It felt like we were camping!
Wednesday 20th July
After only seeing Ometepe at nighttime when we arrived, we woke up and needed to get our bearings and make a plan of action. The lady who ran the hostel round the corner was super helpful, and made us muffins and smoothies while we talked through possible activities with her.
We decided to walk to Ajo de Agua, a natural pool at the base of the volcano. Along the way we saw some amazing scenery and picturesque volcanic beaches.
The walk probably took an hour, so when we got there we were definitely ready for a dip in the water to cool off!
When we finished in the pool there were horses waiting for us to take us back down to the beach. (We had arranged for this to happen… They didn’t just turn up!)
It was the first time I’d ridden a horse so I was very cautious with the small one that I was paired with. I got used to it quite quickly- I just didn’t like it when they cantered and I had to grip on as if it was a bucking bronco!
The horses took us back along the beach in the direction of where we were staying, and dropped us off near a lovely hotel with a restaurant on the beach.
We met some Swiss friends that we made at the Surfing Turtle Lodge there and had dinner and a few cocktails.
In comparison to everywhere we had been so far, Ometepe was very quiet. Some bars and restaurants are very secluded because of the lack of public transport and means to get around, and there are no street lights on the roads and lots of wild horses roaming around.
We stumbled across a dark building that slightly resembled a bar on our way home and they opened up especially for us! I don’t think they were expecting anyone to find them! The owners seemed amused when we diluted their rum with coke and didn’t just drink it neat like they do…
Thursday 21st July
Today was our action packed activities day! (And compared to he other busy days, that means a lot!)
We set our alarms for 7am, and dawdled down to a nearby cafe to have breakfast. Scrambled eggs on toast was perfect to set us up for the day ahead.
As there is no public transport in Ometepe, you need to rely on taxis, walking, or renting bicycles, quad bikes or motorbikes. The other option is to hitchhike, which is exactly what we did! We were lucky and managed to wave down a truck where we could sit in the back. It was pretty cool – my first hitch hiking experience!
The truck dropped us at the base of the San Roman waterfall, which was the starting point for our hike. Even though it was still early, it was already roasting hot!
The hike up the side of the volcano to the waterfall was really fun. I felt like I was on the set for The Jungle Book film, and we saw lots of interesting wildlife including parrots, birds, butterflies, cows and lizards.
The top of the trail was worth the hard work hiking up there, because we were met with a stunning waterfall! We paddled underneath it to cool off and it was beautifully refreshing.
After eating lunch at a family-run beachside restaurant, we tracked down somewhere to go kayaking. It was late in the day by this point and the sun set at 5.30pm, so we were lucky that we could go out at all!
The place we got the kayaks from was basically someone’s house, and just like when we went horse riding, if it hadn’t been recommended to us as an option by the helpful lady at the neighbouring hostel, we wouldn’t have known where to go or that it even existed.
We had a boat ride down to the mouth of the river that flows down between the two volcanos, and then climbed out and into the kayaks.
I was struck by how peaceful it was paddling up the river. All we could hear were birds and insects, and there were no people, buildings, or road noise to be seen or heard. I really felt like I was acting out a scene in a movie – it was beautiful and an incredible experience.
A guide came out with us, and he led the way and pointed out Cayman (small alligators) and turtles. At one point he actually scooped a turtle out of the water and put it on top of the kayak for us to see! We paddled down the river, ducking under tree branches and wildlife-spotting as we went.
Having explored the river, we turned round and paddled back across the lake/ sea around the island and back to the kayak launch.
When we returned, our food was waiting for us! We had two huge freshly-caught grilled fish, homemade guacamole and humus, salad, salsa, plantain, potatoes and rice – a feast!
Unfortunately we couldn’t finish the fish, but we still had room for more drinks! So we grabbed a taxi to the party hostel nearby and finished our evening (and my trip!) there.
I had a great time in Nicaragua, and I will remember it as the most action-packed trip I’ve ever been on! Emily and I definitely made the most of our time by doing something different and exciting every day and staying in so many different places. Nicaragua is a great country to travel round in a short timescale because all the best places to go are so close together.
I’ve already made a bucket list of places I want to go… So bring on the next holiday!