Look up and around Maderas and Concepcion.
We sometimes can see the cap cloud or scarf cloud hanging around the summit of Concepcion vocano.I noticed that mostly it’ll appear in the afternoon,in the morning it’s still clear.The cap clouds are formed by upward current of the air ,influence by moist air at lower altitudes,(in this case..it is the humid air from the lake),. causing the air to cool to its dew point around the summit.The higher the summit..the more possibility to see thicker and bigger cap.Maderas is not that high, so we’ll see more of “scarf “ than the “cap” ,but we can often see the cap clouds around Concepcion summit .
1.A beautiful shape of cloud caught my eyes ,it looks a little bit like a mushroom cloud but upside down.This cloud start to form from lower altitude.I kept noticing where it will go.
2.It flowed from the west to the direction of Concepcion.It was 10.00 am. that time.
3.10.18 nothing above the summit yet.
4.They are coming…,another scarf cloud start to appear around the summit too.Lets see it again in late afternoon.
5.Here it is…”Cap clouds” at 16.54 pm. There’s still few more clouds gathering in.
El Ojo de Agua.
On the last day on Isla de Ometepe,we and the 2 Canadian girls shared the cost for taxi from hotel back to Moyogalpa.( 20 $)The 2 American guys said goodbye from us at the hotel ,they are going on their way for surfing somewhere.We asked the driver to drop us off at Ojo de Agua ,we’d like to be there for about an hour.The Ojo de Agua = “The eye of water” is the half natural half artificial swimming pool in the forest which is a good place to relax from a strenuous journey or a hike on Ometepe's volcanoes.
It is surrounded by big old trees.I sat at wooden sun chairs by the pool and wrote my memo.I didn’t swim but dipped my feet in the pool a little bit,the water is so clear and refreshing. The water has a special quality as the pools are filled with thermal spring water from an underground well at the bottom of the upper pool. A continous stream of fresh water flows through the pools which are almost 2 m.deep. There are 2 pools,the upper and lower pool,..the lower pool is over 40 m long so you can do real laps in it.At the moment there are 2 staffs cutting the grass around the pools, after a while they jumped into the pool ,I thought they just need to refresh themselves cuz that day(around 9-10am) there were nobody ,only 4 of us.The girls are in small pool and nobody in the big lower pool.Actually the staff wasn’t playing,they tried to chase away some leaves floating on water surface to let it flow out at far end of the pool (looks like a mini waterfalls ) into the public stream, which few local were cleaning themselves and their cloths.
The locals said that the water is magical and you gain five years of youth after a dip..!! ,but I thought it’s just a jesting.
That time (2010) the entrance fee costs 40 cd.(1.50 $ ) /person. I heard that now the fee has increased.There is a small restaurant by the pool but I didn’t see much of the food there,only some soft drinks and beer, probably it was too early in the morning.Anyway ,if you have limited of time there,don’t order any food cuz it takes long time before you get it.
It's half way between Altagracia and my hotel,from the Izian hotel to here ,it's about 4.50 km. and from Altagracia is about 5km.It's not hard to find ,just take the road along Playa Santa Domingo and watch out for a billboard saying "The Eye of the Water". From the turnoff it's approximately 600 m to the parking lot.Actually my first plan is to walk from hotel to here but we changed the plan a bit.
1. You can see 2 pools.
2. On the right is the bar area.
3. This is the exit of water to the natural stream as I mentioned.
4. The locals clean up cloths.
5. The small stream behind the pool.
1.Some kind of Bromeliad
2 Fern and Lichen.
3 “Moss”. They are small ,non-woody plants that absorb water and nutrients mainly through their leaves and harvest carbon dioxide and sunlight to create food by photosynthesis.
4 . The Strangler figs. They start as a small seed that gets dropped onto some arboreal giants from wind and bird dispersion.The fig tree then secures its roots on the bark of the tree and it eventually grows down to the forest floor where it can establish a large root system of supporting buttresses. From here the Fig can really do damage as it slithers up and around the host tree over a hundred years, effectively strangulating it like a wooden anaconda. Eventually as the Ficus grows thicker and fuses into the host tree, becomes a self supporting structure as big as the ancient tree it first placed its roots on, After a hundred years the fig would kill the inner tree leaving a hollow space in between its twisted strangler limbs.
1."Hot lips” .Because it’s shape is like ruby red lips .These false flowers attract pollinators without the investment of actually making flowers. Its true flower blooms white from within the red modified leaves. There are many types of them in tropical climate and the diversity increase when closer to the equator.I found it here and at Mombacho area but I didn’t see the one with the flower.
2.I don’t know exactly what it is..but Carlos said something that I think it’s an endemic specie found only on this island.
3.”Elephant ear”.. This giant can grow to 2.80 m. tall with 1.50 m. leaves! Dramatic fragrant white blooms appear in late summer.
4.A wild mushroom ,very colorful .Carls told me (if I wasn’t wrong about his telling in Spanish) that it’s poison for human but some animal can eat them.
5.I still can’t find what it is.I found it along the way hiking.
I'd like to mention a bit about the plant found on Ometepe Island.
1.Gourd tree,or Calabash tree .I saw it along the way hike up Maderas.. It’s flower has shape like cuspidor. It has hard shell fruit,the fruit come out directly from the branch and the fruit size is quite big ,about the size of a pomelo and can be even bigger.Because of the hard shell,people apply to use it as drinking vessel, bowl, spoon, or other objects designed for use or decoration.(Some tribe in Ethiopia used it as a cap) It’s fruit has some medicinal benefit ..such as …ease the asthma, reduce fever.The shell..boil with water and drink to heal the diarrhea or to clean the wound…The leave ..crush it and mask on the bruise to help the bruise recover quickly.
2.It's the flower of Clabash tree.
3-4.Rice field with Concepcion volcano in the back ground.
5..Coffee.. Coffee production in Nicaragua has been an important part of its history and economy. It is one of the country's essential products. The most suitable area for the cultivation have been Managua Department, Diriamba, San Marcos, Jinotepe, as well as the vicinity of Granada Department, Lake Nicaragua, Chontales Department, and in Nueva Segovia; historically, the best coffee is produced in Matagalpa and in Jinotega. Most of the coffee was grown in Managua Department, but Matagalpa Department produced the best bean quality. The best altitude to grow coffee is 800 meters above the sea level. The harvest takes place from December to March. They ship coffees at the beginning of each new crop as soon as they are rested and ready for use,which is during the period April to July.
This tip is about the animal found along the hike of Maderas volcano.
1.These must be some kind of "Tent caterpillars" Tent caterpillars are easily recognized because they are social, colorful, diurnal and build conspicuous silk tents in the branches of host trees.They make their tents in the nodes and branches of a tree's limbs, webworms enclose leaves and small branches at the ends of the limbs. When I saw them ,they adhered on a tree trunk right along the track that everybody has to walk past.That mean they moved out of tent in search of food,which are young leaves.It’s quite creepy for me.There are so many of them clinging to each other ,I think it's about ...60-70 of them..!!
2-4 .It’s a “Mantled Howler monkey”.It is one of the animal that I’d love to see on this trip and I finally saw them on the way down hill from Maderas summit.We heard they howled some where very near so Carlos made a bit detour into the bush to find them.
The mantled howler is one of the largest Central American monkeys, and males can weigh up to 9.8 kg. It is the only Central American monkey that eats large quantities of leaves; it has several adaptations to this folivorous diet. Since leaves are difficult to digest and provide less energy than most foods.
They live in group,group size usually ranges from 10 to 20 members, generally 1 to 3 adult males and 5 to 10 adult females, but some groups have over 40 members.Males outrank females, and younger animals of each gender generally have a higher rank than older animals.Higher-ranking animals get preference . They are relatively inactive monkey. They sleep or rests the entire night and about three quarters of the day.They have prehensile strong tail and use it to grasp a branch when sleeping, resting or when feeding. It can support the entire body weight , but more often holds on by the tail and both feet.
5.This bird I saw it soaring above the crater lake .I didn’t see it clear but from the silhouette of the characteristic of the wingspan and wingtip ,I guess that it may be an eagle.Which type of eagle, I don’t know ..,I have to see it better.
Laguna de Maderas
Maderas volcano is a kind of basaltic volcano.It has a a 800 m wide summit crater which contains the small lake Laguna de Maderas at the bottom.
Maderas is actually still active, but the latest activity dates back more than 3000 years ago and there are no confirmed eruptions in historical time.The big accident was a mud flow in September 1996 killed 6 persons in a village on the east flank, but there was no eruption at the volcano. It was caused by heavy rainfall.
We celebrated a little bit after arriving at the crater lake by doing a crazy action.We counted 1,2,3 and then….this..
Pic 2.After very exhausting hike and sweat a lot,I really need some energy and water.This is my one and only sandwich for lunch,(after ate all dry snack and energy bar along the way already)it’s not enough…totally not enough,especially water.We need lots of water during hike,really.So bring more than 1 litre each.When I arrived at the lake,I drank my last drop but.. how about on the way back??? I don’t now ..I just need it badly now. Carlos and the other guide sat around the bush edge not far from me,Carlos seemed to notice that I ran out of water,he gave his water to me along the way back.How nice of him..He put sugar in the water , made by himself an energy drink…smart..
3,4 It’s quite chilly at the lake ,so it’s better to bring some light jacket even it’s hot during hiking but you may need it there.You can swim in cool water of the perfectly still lake, bordered by reeds.The lagoon is often fogged in by a curtain of mist.The lake water is very cold, no body tried to swim. Not because of an alluring witches would drag them down to the bottom ..again..! ? ; )
5.See the image of how deep the path from the crater rim down to the lake …70-80 degree ?(The trace you see in the picture is the mud slide track that happen from time to time.) It looks scary at the beginning but just take your time ,grab everything you can and climb down slowly.They provide some robe to hold along the way.It’s quite slippery too but just be careful.Finally I managed to reach the lake more quickly than expected.
Trekking Volcan Maderas (3)
I got clear blue sky when arriving the first view point,but the clouds gradually gathering when we were aproaching to the top.It’s harder hiking after the view point.The views during the hike are limited as it passes through cloud forest, with tree limbs covered in hanging bromeliads and lichens but it's nice to hear the calls of hidden birds and monkeys howling somewhere near.We hike on a steep defile dug into the rock and excavated by water.Finally after long muddy and slippery hike for about 4 km.(one way up) it took me 5 and half hours to the top. .My friends could do it faster of course ,that should be at least 1 hour faster than me,but they are kind waited for me.I couldn;t go as fast as them.
1.Moment of joy…arriving the top..
2.When we see this flag,it means that we reach the top of Maderas..! (it's very windy at the moment, so the flag wasn't in a good shape for picture.)
3.There they are..my 4 new friends…they reached the top long before me and waited for me to go on.You’ll see my guide ..Carlos and the guy who stayed in same hostel , his lady had turned around because of knee pain.He continued until the top.
4.Down there is the Laguna de Maderas ,the crater lake..the path going down there is really steep.I read many people's comment from many website that .." to go down is not safe.. too steep..too dangerous...bra bra bra…” Those made me a little hesitating to go down.But every body in our group just simply said “ come on ..lets go”
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.The first look out (Half way up).There're a small bench to sit and see this great view of Volcan concepcion and the lake.After this point the route going to be steeper , and tougher.
5.Very steep up ,resting under a very big tree.
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.
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