Friday, June 11, 2010

Ometepe Island

April 21st to 22nd

Another ridiculously early start sees us leaving Granada and heading past the cloud obscured cone of Vulcan Mombacho. It's a trivial climb made tricky by the oppressive heat as we head to the volcanic island of Ometepe.

At Nandaimo, we rejoin the Pan American Highway and battle the traffic, the manic rush of cars like a stream of blood cells gushing along a main artery. It's a pretty short, dull ride until Rivas where there is a turn off to the boat dock at Saint George. After debating boat times with captains that conflict with timetables, we book passage for bikes and riders on the next ferry - all for less than $5.

With an hour to kill we rest up on the sandy lake shore with the mile high cone of Vulcan Conception rising dramatically from the lake surface forming the island in the background....

The 10 mile crossing is by a tiny, chugging boat that carries all manner of cargo to the islanders. Our bikes share space with chickens, copper pipe, a diesel generator, food, water tanks and electrical supplies.

Ometepe Island is actually 2 volcanoes joined together by a thin strip of land forming a rounded dumbbell shape roughly 20 miles long and 10 wide. The second volcano is 'Maderas' - greener and lower than it's conjoined twin at 1394 metres (4500 feet).

The barren drama of the steep sided Conception Volcano is clear as the boat docks at 'Moyogalpa'....

Moyogalpa is pretty much a dock and a single street lined with guest houses with a church at the end. After a long day it's as much as we want to explore and we crash in the cheapest room we can find.

The island is served by roads that circumnavigate both volcanoes and connect together at the isthmus between them. Some bits are even paved using cinder blocks - the rest is a nasty patchwork of rock and stone. We head past banana and corn fields to 'Reserva Chaco Verde' to hike along the lake amongst primary forest. The air hums with the screams of insect, bird and animal as troops of monkeys cavort in the tree canopy. Some are newly born and cling to mother for dear life as she hunts for food....

Adolescents are bolder and more inquisitive staring right back as we watch them....

Father just broods....

There are huge butterflies, chameleonic lizards, coatis (a kind of giant rodent the size of a small dog) white herons, and blue tailed magpies called 'Urracas' which follow us screeching out warnings to all who listen....

It's an incredible place and we see no-one all day. Views back to the volcano are stunning....

The lake dominates life here. Soils are fertile, but rainfall is absent during the 6 month dry season so it's water provides life to valuable crops and people alike. It is a meeting place for socialising, to cool and water cattle and also for bathing and washing clothes....

Wooden washing platforms are dotted along the shore.
Mother washes....

Whilst dad fishes....

And son relaxes....


Kathy Browning said...

Awesome! I just came across your blog because we will be traveling to Nicaragua in a few weeks with our kids, and visiting Ometepe. I'm looking forward to reading more of your blog! Kathy Browning, Lander, Wyoming

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