Ometepe is an island formed by two volcanoes within Nicaragua’s largest lake, Lake Nicaragua. Volcanoes Conception and Maderas are conjoined by a low isthmus and within in time created the hourglass shaped island. From San Juan del Sur, we hired direct taxi to the San Jorge dock in time to get on the 12:30pm ferry over to Isla Ometepe. The ferry was packed full of traveling gringos and native locals transporting everything from backpacks to livestock. One of the best ways to occupy your time on the ferry is to people watch, especially for those that might get sea sick. I watched vendors push their way through packed ferries trying to sell their handmade goods, observed people trying to hold in the feeling being seasick and ultimately failing, and watched as the Nicaraguan police boat pulled up next to the ferry only to pick up a mysteriously large bag and drive off. You never know what you’ll see on public transit in Central America.
Once arriving on dry land, the three of us crammed into a shared taxi and were on the road to our new home for the next few days. El Zopilote Finca is an all organic permaculture farm nestled on the mountainside near Volcano Maderas. This was my first time fully experiencing and staying on a permaculture farm. While staying on the farm, Justin and I decided to set up camp for the next few days. Although the nights were hot, it was refreshing to fall asleep and wake to the natural sounds of nature. Zopilote boasts about their all organic and handmade goods, and for good reason. They have spectacular daily food and drink specials along with a daily menu for a great price. They also hand make their own chocolate and liquor! If you’re interested in learning more about the farm or permaculture, you can attend a daily guided tour of the farm for free.
Modes of transpiration around the island consisted of taxis, hitchhiking or renting a horse or motorbike. Yes, you can literally rent a horse in Isla Ometepe for around 168 Cordoba or ($6.00 USD) per hour. We decided against it because many of the horses on the island weren’t well fed and unfortunately overworked. The best and more fun way to get around was by motorbike. Most of the roads around the island were paved, but some of the roads would require a 4×4 vehicle or motorbike to get through. During your travels throughout the island you’ll stumble upon a heard of cattle blocking the road ways, horses grazing along the roadside and pigs watching over their piglets in the bushes. You had to be careful when driving near any livestock on the island because you never could predict where they’re going to go. While driving on the motorbike, we had a close call when a local was guiding his cow along the roadside when it then decided to bolt across the road. Luckily, we were able to slow down in time to let it cross over. Not that it would have done much, I was happy to have had a helmet on.
El Ojo de Agua or “The Water Eye” is a beautiful natural spring pool filled from a nearby underground river that flows from Volcano Maderas. After a long motorbike tour around the island, it’s extremely refreshing to jump into this crystal clear pool. For those that enjoy a little thrill, there is a rope swing located at the deeper section of the pool. San Ramon Waterfall is tucked away on the mountainside of Volcano Maderas. You can either take a motorbike the first 2 kilometers and walk the last kilometer or hike it all. It a beautiful hike up the mountain, but it is steep. When we finally arrived at the top, we unpacked our triple stacked pbj’s and enjoyed the incredible view. The pool below the waterfall was freezing, but didn’t stop us from getting in. Aside from gorgeous natural spring pools and stunning waterfalls, there are many ancient petroglyphs that can be seen through the island from the Pre-Columbian Era. The oldest found petroglyphs discovered on Isla Ometepe are dated back to 1000 B.C.. Whether you enjoy hiking 6 hours to the top of Volcano Maderas or submersing yourself in the organic finca culture, there’s always something to do on this majestic island. I don’t know when I’ll return, but I’ve learned a lot about myself on this island and I hope to return in the near future. From Isla Ometepe, we head to Leon where we celebrated Justin’s 25th birthday by volcano boarding down Cerro Negro!