La Isle de Ometepe

Getting there

Since we had quickly befriended Mathilde, Val, and Kath and we were all headed in the same direction, we became a gang of six and headed south together on a two hour ride on the most crowded chicken bus any of us had been on.

Stephen had to run after the bus after we had all boarded and he hadn’t gotten a chance yet. When it started driving away from him, he jumped on the back and hung onto the railing for a few minutes with his big backpack on his back, until we  finally got the bus to slow down and open the front door, allowing him to hop off, run to the front, and squeeze in next to the front windshield, all without the bus making a complete stop.

The bus was so full, including the middle aisle, that the handrails were practically useless: if the bus turned or stopped, no one was going anywhere. If someone would have jumped, they probably wouldn’t have landed.

The picture below shows the bus after about a dozen people had gotten off.

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After a long two hour ride, we were greeted by pouring rain and aggravated taxi drivers, so we waited under an overhang until we found a nice driver to take us to the ferry-port in town to catch a ride across Lago Nicaragua to the island of Ometepe.

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As we got closer to our destination, the two volcanos which make up the island became more and more defined.

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Volcán Concepción, 1,610 meters high (over 5,000 ft) shown here, was the bigger of the two volcanos, and was usually covered in clouds.

At over 8,200 sq. km (over 3,000 sq. miles), Lake Nicaragua is so big that we forgot at times that we were on a lake, feeling instead we were going out into the open ocean.

Moyogalpa

Off the ferry, onto the island in the town of Moyogalpa, and we were swarmed by taxi drivers and people offering to take us to their hotels and hostels.

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After huddling together like a football team and making some space between us and our solicitors, we decided to head to Yogi’s hostel, which had been recommened to us.

Yogi’s wasn’t anything fancy, but it was all we needed, as we planned on spending most of our time on Ometepe outside our hostel, roaming the island.

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We spent the night chilling with the hostel’s young owner and a few other guests there, drinking some beers and swapping travel stories.

Scooters & a Nature Reserve

The next day, we rented motor scooters, grabbed some maps of the island, and hit the road. Doubled up on the bikes, we rode three of them tandem, stopping at a few different areas of the island throughout the day.

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Little did we know, Stephen used to be in a pretty bad-ass biker gang, and his mean-mug and gang sign kept any other bikers from messing with us throughout the day.

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We spent most of our day at Charco Verde, a tranquil natural reserve where we walked around for a couple hours, enjoying the shade of the trees, some interesting plants, a few wild-life sightings, a nice view of the lake from a hill, and a black sand beach.

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After Charco Verde, we spent a few hours riding the scooters to the far end of the island, where we found our German friend, Ana, who we’d met in earlier in our trip on Little Corn Island. We scoped out the town of Santa Domingo and made plans to stay there the next day.

A Red Truck & a Waterfull

On day two, ten of us split an $80 rental of an old red Toyota Tacoma, and we mobbed.

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With Alex at the wheel of the truck’s manual transmission, one passenger up front with him, and eight of us in the back, we got an… exciting… ride.

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The view of the island’s taller volcano, Concepción, was crystal-clear, making for some spectacular views along the way.

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An active volcano, we watched as fumes rose out of the caldera on top.

Of course, the day wasn’t without its detours.  The first: sharing the road with a big group of cows.

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We inched along behind them for about 10 minutes, until a local came zooming through, honking his horn and nearly running them over, teaching us that the cows will only move if you make yourself seem like a real threat. Alex learned the technique, carved a path through the cows, and brought us to the bumpy, puddle-filled unpaved road that led to the entrance of a hike.

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It was a shaded hike uphill to the tall waterfull, which stood over 150 feet tall.

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After working up a good sweat, rinsing off in the cool waters was quite a treat.

We walked down from the trail refreshed and relaxed, the sun heading toward the horizon ahead of us as we hopped back in the truck and rumbled back along the road.

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Somewhere between the bumps, shakes, dips into potholes, and quick stops along the dirt road, we ran into another detour: one of the wires to the car’s battery had come loose, forcing us to stop and pop the hood.

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But thanks to our companion David, his multi-tool, and his handiness, we figured out the problem and fixed it, just in time to make it to a friend’s hostel for their brick oven pizza night, which was an excellent way to end our short but sweet stay on Ometepe.

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