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Getting to Ometepe
Ometepe is rural Nicaragua that is just starting to really open up to tourism, which is still mostly backpacking travelers. The homes are simple and small, many made out of bamboo and thatch, without running water and the smell of cooking fires permeated the air. In the morning, the women would work on island tables in the lake that were set up to wash their laundry on washboards. I am always humbled to see such a simple way of life and wonder how I won the lottery of wealth in being born in a developed country.
The scenery on Ometepe is quite spectacular with the twin volcanoes rising up from the Lake, with the tops generally shrouded in clouds. It is a popular trek to climb either volcano, although it is an 8-11 hours trip, so not for us. We could have spent our days lounging around the hammocks of the beautiful Finca with the Volcan Merida and the Lake as our backdrop, and we did do plenty of lounging, but we also had some activities we wanted to do.
We hiked to a waterfall one day and just as we reached the waterfall the skies opened up and the rain pored down. So much for cooling down in the waterfall; we had our own waterfall! The kids rode horses one day, something Ella had really wanted to do. She was a bit nervous having only been on a horse a couple of times, but got more confident as the ride went on. Gavin who had never been on a horse, went off like he had been riding forever. Even Miles got to go for a little spin around. You have to love doing things like riding in a developing country – no waivers, no helmets!
We also did a kayak trip, starting on the Lake and going towards the Rio Istian. Although it is the beginning of the wet season here, they have had very little rain and the Rio was very shallow. Wildlife viewing also isn’t the best with three young kids, but we managed to spot many different types of birds. The paddle on the Lake into a really strong headwind was quite the workout and we were really glad to finally reach the Rio. On our last day on Ometepe, we saw some of the island’s petroglyphs and visited Ojo de Agua, a natural swimming pool, for a refreshing afternoon.
- Where we stayed:
- Finca Mystica , Merida. $65 for communal cabin (6 double beds in a cool cob cottage). We had them pick us up from the ferry ($40) – very rough road to Merida with little bus transport)
- Caballito’s Mar, stayed here one night after our kayak trip, very basic. $20 for a room with a double and bunk beds.
- Finca el Porvenir, stayed just one night. 1087C/room. Lovely grounds and nice rooms although the place was empty. Food was more expensive and only okay and it a bit of a walk into Santa Cruz. They do have petroglyphs that you can walk around and view.
- San Ramon waterfall – we paid to have Hirow, the manager at Finca Mystica drive us to the entrance and then up the road ($30). We then walked the rest of the way.
- Horseback riding – organized at Finca Mystica – the kids just rode for an hour, but really enjoyed it. No helmets. 500 C
- Rio Istian Kayaking with Caballito’s Mar. $20pp, kids free (double kayaks). It can be strenuous kayaking against the wind on the lake. Water levels were low and we didn’t see a lot of wildlife and although the guide was friendly, he wasn’t terribly informative. But still a really fun trip.
- Ojo de Agua – lovely natural swimming pool. 80C/adults, kids free. Food they sell is more expensive and only okay. We took the chicken bus from Santa Cruz and walked the 1.5km up the road.
- Where we ate: mostly at where we stayed. Finca Mystica has unbelievable food!
- Getting to Ometepe from Grenada – bus to Rivas (leaves from Shell Station), 185C/family, Taxi to San Jorge 110C, Ferry to Moyogalpa 250C/family. Took taxi to Finca Mystica $30.
- Chicken bus Merida to Santa Cruz and Santa Cruz to Ojo de Agua (C150/family total)
- Taxi Santa Cruz to Moyogalpa, $30