When we first arrived in Nicaragua, if you’ve been reading or keeping up with our blog, you’ll know that we ended up having to abandon the CA-4 to get our tourist visas’s renewed and that was quite the fiasco. We had to find a way to get to Costa Rica with closed land borders and no flights flying out of Nicaragua. The airlines said they were flying, but in reality, they would take your money, then issue you a voucher when they cancelled your flight. We found a catamaran that was recently approved to do the international sailing to Costa Rica for visa purposes and shuttling passengers. Land and air borders were still closed, but maritime borders were open.
When we finally got our visa’s renewed, we decided to go out to the Island of Ometepe. This island is comprised of two volcanoes in a fresh water lake. The lake seems salty because of all the sediments from the active volcano that leeches into the lake. There are bull sharks in the lake along with a myriad of fish. On this island that you can drive around in just a couple of hours, there is one active volcano and another inactive. On the inactive volcano side is the little resort of Ojo de Agua. This place is a must see especially for families. It is a natural pool, built up with a rope swing, slack line, and swings in the water. They have a restaurant and bar on site, along with a souvenir stand. It’s a great place to spend a day or even two if you feel like relaxing and dipping in the cool water. This water is much cooler than the ocean water in my opinion. Most people would think that this water was cool and refreshing, I thought it was down-right cold. I could have used a 4.8 wetsuit to keep warm.
This place is really beautiful and during the hot weekends, you can find a lot of local families playing in the water and enjoying the tranquility of this place. I would advise you to bring your bug spray, the mosquitoes are legit and there are thousands of them hanging out waiting to feast on you. If you stay in the water, it’s not bad. I also advise bringing water shoes. It’s not terrible, you can definitely go without them, but there are slick rock areas and if you slip, you can easily cut your feet.
Another excursion we took ourselves on was the hike up to Cascada San Ramon. We camped across the street from the entrance for free and were able to watch some kids playing in the water and throwing fishing nets. We had a wonderful evening of cooking, taking showers in open air, cooking and playing card games. When we woke up the next morning, we paid our entrance fee to the cascada and drove all the way up to the trail head. Most tour companies will drop you off where we camped and then you have to hike all the way up and it’s quite the trek. A lot of the time you’re going literally straight up the side of a mountain. Couple that with the heat and the weight of water and snacks on your back, it’s a challenge. The hike itself isn’t hard, but the heat is often something to contend with. Bringing a small bottle of water is not enough. I think I went through 2 liters of water just to get up there and we started from the parqueo. Again, bring bug spray. You’re hiking through the jungle, you’ll see some weird insects, some huge insects and if you’re squeamish, try not to look, but we find all these bugs very fascinating. You don’t need a guide to do the hike, but they’ll likely be able to tell you about the local flora and fauna. The waterfall is COLD. It feels great to jump in, cool off and jump out.
Another cool spot we checked out was the Parque y Mariposario Charco Verde. It’s a small butterfly sanctuary with beautiful butterflies and local flora. It has small walking paths, a man-made waterfall and a pool of turtles. There is a very friendly dog that tries to go into the sanctuary with anyone who enters. They have a small gift shop and the entrance was $C100 equivalent to about $3USD. This grants you access to the walking paths out to the lake. On our way out, we took a “wrong turn” and found some monkeys in the trees, and there was a cuidador (caretaker) who offered us entry to that blocked off part of the property so we could see the monkeys up close. When we got closer to the monkeys (we weren’t actually that close, you could barely see them high in the treetops, but you could see their faces), they stopped howling and just stared at us. We continued on a different walking path, through the hotel area and back out to the parking lot to our car.
We wrapped up our three day trip to Isla De Ometepe and headed back to the mainland. The cost for the vehicle ferry each way was about $14 and $4 USD for passenger tickets. $18 USD each way for all three of us. Entrance for the hike was about $5 USD for all three of us, and $3 USD each for entry to Ojo de Agua. We camped the first night at a hostel for $5 usd. We brought all of our food, but did take an opportunity to eat at a local restaurant which was very cheap and delicious. We wanted to go hike Volcan Concepcion and Volcan Maderas, but I had broken my foot a couple of months before and wasn’t completely healed enough to make those hikes. We will definitely go back to do that.
Isla de Ometepe is a beautiful island worth the trip. If you’re looking for peace and tranquility, you will find it here.