Trekking Volcan Maderas (2)
Our group had 2 guides ,Carlos..very good guide and another one was new guide which going to be trained by Carlos today.Both of them are young man age about eary 20.
After half way look out the route going into cloud forest atmosphere so there'll be only trees around us ,can't see much of view outside .The humidity made the trail was very muddy and slippery sometime.The more ascending ..the worse..!!
We didn't only walk but we need to use both arms and legs to climb,so this trekking need good physical condition especially "knee"
Along the way up I saw the lady who came with us on the bus to hotel the day before..she was crying with her knee pain and couldn't go on anymore and need to go down immediately.
1. first pic..climbing.. use both hand and legs.
2.The beginning of steep ..was like this .. we hold on the trees branches and roots cuz it's very slippery.
3-4.Some parts of trail were almost 90 degree slope,really need both hands and arms to pull myself up.
5.The atmosphere around us.
Trekking Volcan Maderas (1)
My guide that promised to come ..not showed up ..I try not to think that being cheated.I contact hotel staff ,they called the man who promised me .After waiting for almost an hour,still no one show up.Ok ..being cheated ..very upset ..yes...I asked hotel to do something for us cuz the one who cheat us are their partner,so finally they put 2 of us to join with other group of 4.All of us don't want that of course.But this turned out to be very good for me...
At the beginning we don't want to join them cuz it 'll be too big group and we need our pace of walking ,I don't need to rush walking especially they are young people with age of 25-26.I'm not that young anymore so I'll be too slow for them.But after walk together whole day,I found that I loved them all...they are sooo nice.The 2 girls age 26 are from Canada, they're cool ,the 2 gentlemen age 25 are from USA.They are all great.I'm glad I have new friends like them.
In the first pic ,there they are ..4 of them and the 2 guides.
2.Second pic. Lava rock .
3.If anybody never see rice field closed up..this is the chance.We have to walk pass rice field ,it's beautiful.
4.Half way up.There're a small bench to sit and see this great view of Volcan concepcion.After this point the route going to be steeper.
5.Very steep up ,resting under a very big tree.
Walking to see Petroglyphs on this islands in one of a famous "Things to do" here.There are thousand stone statues and petroglyphs scattered around Isla de Ometepe,show the pre-Columbian past.The earliest dates back about 4,000 years.The archeologist found that early Indian considered that the Maderas was the sacred place of the sun and Concepcion was the brother of the moon.The best area to see petroglyphs in their original places is around Santa cruz and Balgue area,like Finca Magdalena and hotel Finca El Porvenir.Or if anyone don't want to walk,you can see some of the stone and petroglyphs in the museum in Altagracia.
These are the pictures of some part of Santo Doming near my hostel area which is between Playa Santo DOmingo and Santa Cruz.We can see local life do some fishing and children play with the wave in the lake using home-made life vest (plastic bottle)...smart.People like to feed parrot as pet,some can speak ..some not.The pair in the pic I saw them were talking to each other and look like one try to flert with the other or play or what.. I don't know, but it's so cute...
Many family also feed pig like in the pic.This one was curious of what they are seeing.... "me"
Last pic is the intersection ,to the left..lead to Balgue area but the road will not be along the beach,it'll be a little in land.To the right ..go to Merida .It'll be about 4km. inland along the rough road.You can see road condition from last pic.It's not good road, but I saw some solo tourist (male)ride bicycle along this road.
Finca Magdalena - Organic Coffee Farm
Finca Magdalena is an organic farm set up on the slopes of Vulcán Maderas, a 20-minute hike uphill from Balgue. The hacienda was built over 120 years ago and it contains two large buildings and several smaller ones. It is part of a working cooperative that produces coffee, honey and organic fruits and vegetables. There are now 24 families who are a pat of the cooperative, which received land under the Sandinista land reform in the 1980s.
The finca also serves as a backpacker's hostel, offering dorm-style accommodations in an old wooden farmhouse, along with some cabañas for those who'd like a little more privacy. Finca Magdalena is on the way up the trail to Vulcán Maderas so guided tours can be arranged here. It provides an easy access to the petroglyphs scattered around the grounds, and horse riding tours are also available. The finca is surrounded by lush gardens and has plenty of scenic chill-out areas. Meals are served from the finca's porch which offers glorious views of Lago de Nicaragua and Vulcán Concepción. During the coffee season, which usually runs from November to February, guests can watch or even participate in various stages of the harvest.
It took me almost two hours to walk the dirt road from Santa Cruz to Finca Magdalena. Exhausted from the heat, a chilled for a while on the porch and had a good cup of organic coffee from their farm and a chocolate cake. Fortunately, I did not need to walk all the way back to El Porvenir. I managed to arrange transportation in 4x4 with some guys from Managua who just returned from their hike to Vulcán Maderas.
- Budget Travel
- Hiking and Walking
Ojo de Agua
After cycling north of Playa Santo Domingo for about 2 km I came to the entrance of Ojo de Agua where I left the bicycle. At the entrance you pay 2 US $ (December 2010) and then walk a small trail through corn fields and banana plantations for around 1km until you arrive to Finca Tilgue, better known as Finca Ojo de Agua because of the natural spring that flows across the property. Set in the middle of a beautiful tropical forest, there are the two pools filled with crystal clear water made up of several underground springs that shine and bubble in the sun. The pools are almost 2 m deep and the larger is over 40 m long which makes for a good swimming. Ojo de Agua is of volcanic origin and its crystalline water includes several minerals which has medicinal properties for the skin.
A thatched roof hut by the pool is a restaurant with a good selection of food and cold drink, including natural juices and cocktails. There are lots of places to sit in the sun or in the shade, and a few accurately placed hammocks. You'll also find a small souvenir shop, changing rooms, showers and toilets.
Ojo de Agua offers an escape from the tropical heat in peaceful ecological environment where you can spend a morning or an afternoon chilling around the pool and dipping into refreshing water.
more pics in the travelogues
- Jungle and Rain Forest
- Food and Dining
Exploring the Island by Bicycle
Except for the road between Moyagalpa and Altagracia, most of the roads on Isla de Ometepe are still unpaved. Actually, they are in terrible condition. There aren't many cars but you'll encounter many (mostly local) cyclists and will share it with heards of cattle, horses, pigs and chickens. Bicycles can be rented at most hotels. For me it was most convenient to rent it at Albergue Ecológico El Porvenir where I was staying and I took it for the whole day.
I left early in the morning, after breakfast. In Santa Cruz I turned left and followed the road to Playa Santo Domingo, passing by a few tiny settlements and pastures, and with a nice view of Volcán Concepción. Lush tropical vegetation grows right next to the road. It is not unusual to see animals on the road, children playing and women doing laundry in the creek.
I passed by Playa Santo Domingo and then continued 2km further north to Ojo de Agua, two natural pools filled with crystal clear water and set in the middle of a beautiful tropical forest, where I spent a great part of my day. On the return I made a stop for lunch in Playa Santo Domingo, and had a short walk around before cycling back to El Porvenir.
In spite of the heat, humidity and poor road conditions, I found cycling on Ometepe a great way of exploring this magical island.
- Road Trip
Playa Santo Domingo
Situated on the north-eastern side, at the narrow wedge of land that connects the Maderas and Concepción side of the island, Playa Santo Domingo is a 4 km long stretch of gray sand which is said to be one of the prettiest freshwater beaches in Nicaragua. With the forest-covered Vulcán Maderas looming at the beach’s end, it is truly magical. The swimming can be nice but with the constant breeze the water is usually choppy and it can get windy. At the time of my visit the water level was very high due to a lot of rain in the previous months, so the sandy beach literary disappeared. But it was still fun sitting at one of the restaurants, just a step from the lake and with beach umbrellas literary in the water.
Playa Santo Domingo is one of Ometepe’s main tourist destinations with some of the island’s finest accommodation options and scenic lakeside restaurants and bars. The main attraction is certainly the beach though Playa Santo Domingo can be also an ideal base to explore the surroundings. There is a short trail that leads into the isthmus of Ometepe and to the river Istián (actually a swamp) with its rich bird life. The best way to explore the river is by kayak. Another pleasant stroll is to Ojo de Agua, two natural pools with refreshing water. Surrounded by forest, the place kept its tropical look.
- Hiking and Walking
- Food and Dining
Finca Ecologica El Zopilote
On the way back from Finca Magdalena to El Porvenir I also wanted to visit Finca Ecologica El Zopilote. It's a permaculture farm located in a quiet place, a 10-minute walk up the trail from the village of El Madroñal, run by a few peace-loving Italians, working with respect for the environment and nature. The finca offers to the visitors different types of accommodation such as camping, hammocks, dorm beds and private cabañas. All the cabins are constructed from natural materials and are integrated perfectly into the surrounding nature. The roofs are all made from natural palm leaves from the island. In order to limit the use of cement in El Zopilote they make use of natural stone and rock as well as recycling materials such as glass, bottles and metal.
There is a communal kitchen where guests can cook their own meals, and three times a week they organize pizza nights with a good selection of organic pizzas to choose from. You can have tropical fruits for free as well filtered water. The compound has compost toilets, an artisan's workshop and a clay oven for bread and pizza. The land is completely planted with trees and plants of all kinds, including a nursery and a vegetable garden. There is also a wonderful lookout where you can watch amazing sunset with the volcan in the background.
For those interested in permaculture, sustainable living and ecology they organize tours with one of the owners where you will get hands on experience with permaculture, composting, rainwater harvesting, solar power, recycle of all the trash, and more. And there is always plenty of work in El Zopilote so they have open arms for volunteers and WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) members that come to work and learn how a tropical farm operates.
And don't forget to check out the yummy products in the small shop. All the products are organic and handmade in the farm. The list is huge. You can get everything from coffee, chocolate (6 different flavours), homemade nutella (rich chocolate-peanut spread), peanut butter, tahini, marmalades (made with seasonal fruits, herbs and spices from the farm), mango chutney, liqueurs (made from various herbs, nuts, fruits and spices), honey, juices, yogurt, granola, muffins, cookies and cakes, whole wheat bread, tomato sauce, chili oil and chili paste, cold pressed coconut oil and banana vinegar, and also soap (natural soaps made with oils and plants from the finca), natural sponges and notebooks (made from their homemade recycled paper). I would certainly buy lots of their products if I stayed on the island longer. But it was my last day so not very practical to carry them with me. I only bought three chocolate pralines with different flavour: coffee, nuts and coconut. A top-grade chocolate products with exquisite taste!
- Farm Stay
- Jungle and Rain Forest
Moyogalpa - the Getaway to Ometepe
Located on the north-western coast of the island, Moyogalpa is the getaway to Ometepe, via 1-hour ferry ride from San Jorge on the mainland. The name in the Nahuatl language means 'place of the mosquitos'. Not just the ferry terminal, Moyogalpa is the largest village and commercial centre on Isla de Ometepe with the only bank and ATM, a post office, a tourist office, a choice of hotels, bars, restaurants and shops, and the fastest internet on the island. It's also a home base to most of the island's tour companies, and the best starting point for a hike on the Vulcán Concepción.
From the port, Moyogalpa's main drag rises up to a charming Catholic church where it meets the road connecting to the rest of the island's communities. La Sala Arqueológica, located toward the top of the main street, seems to have a small but interesting collection of pre-Columbian artifacts found on the island over years, but unfortunately I only stayed in Moyogalpa shortly so there was no time to visit it.
The Vulcán Concepción looms over Moyogalpa, providing a dramatic and ever-changing backdrop to the town scenery. Moyogalpa also has a perfect location for watching the sunset which is best to enjoyed at the small park at the side of the port.
Several fiestas are held in Moyagalpa. The most important celebration is the patron's saint (Santa Ana) festival which takes place from July 23 – 26, featuring the Baile de las Inditas which is performed in much the same way as the indigenous dance it replaced, with traditional costumes and the resonant sound of the marimba.
- Food and Dining
- Sailing and Boating
- Hiking and Walking
Ometepe is known for its rich pre-Columbian past. Petroglyphs and stone statues are scattered all over the island but the biggest concentration of them can be found on the north and northeastern slopes of Volcán Maderas. More than 1700 petroglyphs have been found on Ometepe and the oldest are thought to have been made around 1000 B.C. Some of the best places to see petroglyphs in their original place are at Albergue Ecológico El Porvenir and on Finca Magdalena. At El Porvenir there is a well-marked trail where you can see approximately 20 of these rock carvings. Visitors have to pay 1 US $ (December 2010) but for guests of El Porvenir it was free.
Petroglyphs on the island of Ometepe paid homage to the Nahuatl gods. The most common motif is the spiral, representing perhaps calendars or the Nahuatl concept of time and space. Their calendar consisted of 18 months of 20 days each, which made a year of 360 days. Other images carved in the rocks depict anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figures, like lizards, turtles, frogs and monkeys.
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
Horse riding is a wonderful pastime activity on the island. In many ways, it is the best way to get around this muddy and steep terrain, and experience the island's village life. Surprisingly, no independent operator is offering rides yet, so ask at your hotel. Normally you can rent horses for between 5 US $ and 7 US 4 an hour, which should come with a guide. Where you go it depends on the area you rent from. You can go for a ride towards the lake and get the chance to explore the tiny villages. The beaches around Santo Domingo are also a nice place to ride.
As I was staying at Albergue Ecológico El Porvenir, it was most convenient to rent a horse there. I asked the owner José what were the options and he suggested a ride to the slopes of Vulcán Maderas. We left El Porvenir at 8am following a trail to the volcano. It was a steep terrain through the forest, plantations and pastures scattered with volcanic rocks, offering some great views. After about an hour ride we came to a huge bean field where we left the horses. We took a short walk to a viewpoint where we were able to appreciate a fantastic panoramic view of Ometepe and Lago Nicaragua, with Volcán Concepción in the background.
The ride took 2,5 hours and it was 5 US $ per hour (December 2010).
- Horse Riding
Rent a Mountain bike
The unpaved portion of the roads around the island are ideal for mountain biking. The southeastern section of the island in particular is mostly unpaved, rutted and muddy. In other words beautiful mountain bike country and you will be on the road with the horseback riders, dirt bikers, walkers and cow herders. It is not unusual to see folks riding double on these unpaved roads. we saw some familys riding four to a bike in Granada on the pavement.
- Budget Travel
Playa Santo Domingo
At the isthmus between the Concepción side and the Maderas side of the island is Playa Santo Domingo. Here you will find several hotels with restaurants and the longest beach on the island. It is often very windy at Playa Santo Domingo, maybe too windy sometimes for laying on the beach.
There is a small canopy zip line here and as in other places on the island you can rent bikes and go horse riding.
Merida is a village on the west side of Vulcán Maderas. It is the end stop for the buses and there are a few cheap hotels here.
I came to Merida on bike and had lunch at the hotel Hacienda Merida, a place that used to be a farm belonging to the Somoza family. I had a tasty lunch in the restaurant and then walked down to the lake. At the jetty there were a couple of boats and two tourist coming down to the jetty with their luggage told me they were taking the boat to Moyogalpa. Apparently there was a new boat service between Merida and Moyogalpa and this sounds to be a good option as the buses are not frequent.
If you stay in Merida you can do activities like horseback riding, kayaking and mountain biking. It is also easy to make excursions to Vulcán Maderas, Cascada San Ramón (a 40m high waterfall) and to El Cogüito (Monkey Island).