Cloud forest volcano and body surfing in a lake

Trip Start Sep 28, 2007
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Trip End Jun 25, 2008


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Flag of Nicaragua  ,
Friday, November 9, 2007

From Granada we caught a chicken bus to Rivas and then a ferry to Isla de Ometepe in the middle of Lago de Nicaragua.

The island has been formed by the joining of two volcanoes, Volcan Concepcion (1610 metres) and Volcan  Maderas (1394 metres), giving the island a figure eight shape.

We arrived at our hotel to stormy weather outside and a bug storm inside our room. They were small non-biting insects attracted to the light but I've never been in a room more inundated.

Luckily the restaurant balcony overlooked the lake and there were no insects around apart from the really sweet fire fly whose bottom would light up like a mini torch every few seconds. It was so cute.

The next day we decided to hike up Mt Maderas.  At the base I was transfixed by a little piggy having a very good poke about in the dirt. There really are pigs everywhere in Nicaragua and I really like them.

Going up the trail  we saw coffee plants and tasted the sweet red fruit that has the bean inside. It was an excellent spot as it also had cocoa plants. What more does a girl need?!

We also saw the petroglyphs showing serpents, the sun and a butterfly. I don't think they know how old they are.

It was a five kilometre hike up to the peak and after about three kilometres we reached the lookout where you can see Volcan Concepcion and the lake stretching out.

Not  long after that we hit the cloud forest, with moss-covered trees and gnarled branches similar to what you see in New Zealand.

There was no lookout once we reached the top (not that we could have seen through the clouds anyway). Instead there is a track leading down into the crater where there is a small lake. 

It was pretty much entirely misted in when we got there. Hot from our walking we changed into togs to go for a swim, and it was freezing. The most bizarre part was the soft icky mud underfoot that lined the whole lake was warm. I'd swim a bit, enjoy the sight of the trees coming right down to the water without beach and shrouded in mist,  and then  I would stop and stand up in the warm mud to get some feeling back in my feet. We also saw amazing metallic bugs sitting on the surface of the water.

The hike hadn't felt that long going up but it felt really long coming back down. The root steps were steep and slippery and we all got covered in the orange-red clay and mud.

Once we had come down a certain distance, there was a sudden deafening noise of chicharas, which are similar to cicadas.  They sounded like an orchestra of tiny chainsaws. It was pretty unpleasant. Our guide said at some times of the year both the cicadas and the chicharas are singing all day. That would be a real earful.

A little bit further on we saw the trees moving and realised we had disturbed a family of howler monkeys. One monkey in particular was very curious and came down the tree trunk a bit to stare at us.  As I was creeping through the undergrowth to get a better photo angle I disturbed a little  tree frog and saw it hop out of view.

We walked for another half an hour and then came across more howler  monkeys, only this time they were in a low tree with very few leaves, so were extremely visible.   What a treat. It was cool to see them come out to the end of the branch to eat the fresh new leaves.

We finished the tramp feeling tired but very satisfied.

When we got back to the hotel, the sun had just set and the light was fading. I decided to  go and try and get the worst of the mud off my trousers in the lake. Discovering the water was incredibly warm,especially after my first swim of the day, I upgraded my plans to a swim.

It was fantastic. The silhouette of the mountain we climbed to my right and a light pink sky to my left. The water was  still rough so there was a wave every couple of seconds.

Mark came out and joined me and we had fun body surfing and fighting with the strong sideways current.  It was so neat to get pummeled by waves the temperature of a tepid bath but not get a nose full of salt water.

Lake Nicaragua is also known as the sweet sea and I can understand why. It even has bull sharks that swim in from the Caribbean outlet, but all we saw were the jaws nailed to the wall of the restaurant. It really was a fantastic place to visit.
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