Isla de Ometepe, 100% Tranquilo

In order to get to Isla de Ometepe you have to take a ferry across Lago Nicaragua.  While searching online for information about making a reservation we noticed that there we ample ferries that crossed the lago so we decided to wing it. By wing it I mean, getting up early and getting to the docks in order to get on the next ferry with space.  Unfortunately our plan didn’t work out very well because when we got there it turned out there was only one ferry with enough room for two rigs and it wasn’t leaving until 5:50pm.  At this point it was noon, which meant that we would have to wait almost 6 hours for the ferry.  There were other ferries that had room for one car and we tried to get Sarah and Nate to take one of those but they insisted on sticking it out with us, such awesome peeps.

Isla de Ometepe

Isla de Ometepe

Waving up to Sarah from the cars after we set sail

Waving up to Sarah from the cars after we set sail

Because of the late ferry we didn’t pull into Finca Magdalena on the island until around 8pm.  We parked the rigs and went in search of the caretaker.  Once we found someone they told us to pull around and park in front of a big shade structure.  The space where they wanted us to camp wasn’t the flattest piece of land on the property but we made due with rocks and bricks to level the trucks out.

While I was filling out the paperwork Jamie was pulled aside by a man that lived on the finca.  The man took Jamie away into the darkness and they didn’t come back for 5 mins.  When they finally re-emerged I asked Jamie what the man was trying to tell him.  Jamie said that the man mentioned something about a mascota (pet) that was tied up.  The man kept saying “Muy bravo” which basically means aggressive and “muerde” which means that it bites.  He also kept saying “mapache”, this was the word that we didn’t know.  Too recap, there was a rabid animal that was very aggressive tied up somewhere near our camp.  Awesome!  Of course our minds started running wild.  What is this animal? Is it a cheeta? Maybe a puma!?  What if it bites through the rope and attacks one of us?  What was that word he kept saying? Mapachino? Mepacho? Lucky for us we didn’t have to wait long to figure it out.  The man, probably noticing our mounting fear, came back with a flashlight to try to show us the rabid fire breathing beast that was….drum roll please!   A raccoon!  That’s right folks, the scary rabid beast tied to the tree was a little pet raccoon.  I wont lie it was kinda cute.  As you might have guessed, we were able to sleep well that night knowing that a puma wasn’t going to break its leash and maul us in our sleep.

Apparently he likes watermelon as well as Sarah's hand.

Apparently he likes watermelon

Camp at Finca Magdalena

Camp at Finca Magdalena

The next day we got up nice and early to do some house work.  Hand washing our laundry has become a task that I find surprisingly rewarding.  However, I haven’t always felt that way.  When we first started the trip I loathed doing the laundry and would wait until the very last pair of undies before even attempting to wash anything. I know, poor Jamie had to live with a stinky girlfriend in very close quarters.  Now, I’ve come to accept hand washing as part of the routine on the road.  It’s actually very therapeutic. You get to scrub and dunk and rinse and scrub until everything is thoroughly washed and smells fresh, then you hang it out on the line to sun dry.  Believe it or not you can smell the sun while folding warm line-dried clothes.  I love it.  Of course there are downsides to hand washing, cracked cuticles, limited water supplies and rainy days just to name a few, but it still feels good to know that I put my blood sweat and tears into cleaning our laundry. Plus, we know we won’t mysteriously be missing a pair of shorts or a bra when we get our clothes back from the lavanderia.

Alright, back to our “housework day”, while I was in the middle of a particularly good scrubbing session I heard an ear-piercing scream come from the area near the raccoon and saw Nate rush over.  Come to find out Sarah had gotten bit by the raccoon.  I know, we had been told that he was mean and would bite, but of course we had to see for ourselves.  Sarah just so happened to be the brave soul that found out for the rest of us.  Nate and Sarah immediately cleaned her wound with soap and water and she has since fully recovered. Needless to say we stayed clear away from the raccoon from there on out.

With our laundry hanging and raccoon attack quota met we sat down to a nice lunch at the Finca and talked about our hike we had planned for the next day.  Isla de Ometepe is an island composed of two volcanoes; Concepcion is still active while Volcan Maderas is inactive and has a lake in the crater.   We spoke with the reception desk and set up a guide to take us up Volcan Maderas the next day.

Getting a goodnight sleep was crucial because we were up bright and early to meet our guide at 8am and start the hike.  Lucky for us the start of the hike was at Finca Magdalena so we didn’t have to go far. With our backpacks full of water and snacks we hit the trails with Reina and Brady in tow! Yep, that’s right! We got to bring the pups along.  The hike was amazing and by far the muddiest hike I have ever done.  You go from hot dry weather to cold cloud forest in a matter of hours and about half way up the mud starts.  I had planned on staying as clean as possible considering I had just hand washed all of our clothes the day before. As it turns out my efforts were futile, by the end of the hike both Jamie and I were covered in mud.

First lookout point on the hike

First lookout point on the hike

Taking a break to take a pic in the jungle

Taking a break to take a pic in the jungle

As we reached the top we ran into a woman on her way back from the crater.  When we asked her how far it was until the lake she said (in a dramatic, over exaggerated tone), “It is sooooo far and you can’t even see anything.” Basically telling us that it wasn’t worth it and that we should turn back.   We’re not ones to follow the crowd so we pushed on and in a matter of 15 minutes we were at the crater.  It was fabulous.  To give the Negative Nancy a little credit there were clouds when we first got down into the crater but they quickly dispersed and gave us a view of the entire lake.  It was a small lake surrounded by green trees and capped by white mist. We ate lunch and relaxed at the lake for about 45 minutes before heading back down the mountain.  Once back down we cleaned up and went straight to the restaurant for some dinner.  We were famished after our 7hr hike.

In the crater

In the crater

Over the next couple of days on Isla de Ometepe we hit up the beautiful pools of Ojo de Agua and camped under the shade of a giant tree right on the beach.  It was definitely one of the top camping spots of the trip and Lago Nicaragua is so huge I had to keep reminding myself that it was a lake and not the ocean.  After two nights on the beach we took an early ferry ride (this time we thought ahead and made reservations the day before) back across the lake and towards our next great adventure.

One thought on “Isla de Ometepe, 100% Tranquilo

  1. Thank you for all this fantastic info! I am planning my trip for November. Could you please give a bit more info about the camping? Can you camp anywhere along the beach in Ometepe for free?

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