Mon 23 Nov 09 - Mon 23 Nov 09 75 °F
There isn't much to do in Ometepe. The island is very underdeveloped and the dirt roads are in horrendous conditions. Most people hike or kayak around the island. Luke and I decided to hike a volcano and go to the waterfall. After talking to a number of people including local guides we decided to climb the smaller volcano, Vulcan Maderas an 8-hour round trip hike to the top.
Ometepe like other places in Nica was too hot. So we decided to start our volcano hike at 6am in order to beat the heat. The guide thought it was a good idea too. And of course there was a sign detailing what to do in case we wanted breakfast earlier than 6am. Talk to the kitchen and tell them what time you want breakfast the night before. Simple. Turns out that the rules never apply in our favor. We were told that the earliest we can get our breakfast is 6am. So much for the rules! No point in arguing so we took our breakfast at 6am and started the hike by 6:30am.
It was very early in the day and it was pretty cloudy so we never really felt the Nica heat that morning. about 30 minutes into our hike the guide told us to go ahead of him and that he was gonna catch up with us. Apparently his breakfast wasn't sitting too well and he had to take care of it in the bushes. Five minutes later he rejoined us feeling much better. We were told that the guides don't provide any information on the volcano or surroundings. Their job is to show us the way so we don't get lost. It's kinda strange walking with someone for 8 hours and not saying much. I don't think it was too hard for him since in my experience Nicaraguans are people of very few words.
Along the path we saw pipes delivering water to the island. Our guide picked a spot to rest by a creek. I watched him pull a tiny stick from the pipe. The stick plugged a hole in the pipe and the guides use that hole to wash their face. It functioned as a faucet. On top of the pipe we say an army of red ants carrying leaves that are three to four times their size. From a distance it looks like a trail of tiny leaves moving along the pipe.
As we continued we saw the climate changing hour after hour. From a dry path with tall trees to a muddy, slippery path with short trees and roots crisscrossing the trail. Many of these strong roots acted as handles to help us climb some of the very slippery and tough spots. About two thirds of the way up we were in the cloud forest. You can see mist all around you and the temperature dropped to a cool comfortable temperature for a tough hike. On the way up a snake crossed right in front of us snaking its way across tree branches. Four hours later we were at the very top. The visibility was incredibly poor. The fog was pretty dense that we couldn't see the crater lake and since it was cold and we couldn't see much we did not descend down into the lake. We had lunch at the top, sat for a few minutes then made our way down.
Half way down there was supposed to be a vista point but it was too cloudy that day that we could barely see the lake and we could not see Vulcan Concepcion at all. Bummer! The way down was faster but at times trickier. It's easier to climb a slippery path than to go down one. We eventually made it to the base of the volcano. Near the bottom we saw a group of howling monkeys. Some of them got a bit closer but none of them got too close.
The base is incredibly green. It reminded me of these movies depicting drug trafficking in the jungles of central america or that scene from Predator where Arnie and the gang stand in the middle of the jungle and they all open fire at nothing and everything.
When I got to the hostel I was covered in mud head to toe. Not our guide though! So the best thing to do at that point was to jump off the dock into the lake with all my clothes on and even my shoes. I swam for 15 minutes and my clothes were still dirty. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the refreshing lake water. I showered, got changed and then laid in the hammock for hours before I went to bed.