Ometepe - Activities

There's lots to do on Ometepe: hiking, kayaking, biking, or maybe just relaxing and hanging out. First time visitors should should be aware, however, that getting around the island can be logistically challenging, and most activities will take up an entire day. Plan accordingly.

Activities

Hiking Volcán Concepción

Volcán Concepción is the highest of the two volcanoes that collective constitute Isla de Ometepe. It is 1,610 metres high and has a beautiful cone shape.

Visitors wishing to hike the volcano can join a guided tours group for ca. US $15 to reach the middle of the volcano (i.e. to an altitude of ca. 1000 metres) and ca. US $20 to go further up. The first part of the ascent involves trekking up gently slopes of lush green tropical forest. During this section, you're likely to see howler monkeys and white faced monos. The second part of the ascent is steep. Vegetation changes at higher elevation. After the tree line (if it's not cloudy) there are some spectacular views.

Note that some guides are only willing to take you to ca. 1300 metres at highest. Anything beyond that is rather dangerous, with strong wind and ravines of loose rocks. Also note that prices includes only the guides, not transport to the start of the trail, nor any snacks. Bring your own food or at least plenty of water—2 - 4 litres per person. Also pack a jacket—it can get quite cold and windy.

Hikers are encourage to begin the ascent early. Tours from Moyogalpa start around 7am.

Hiking Volcán Maderas

Hikers can summit Volcán Maderas and swim it the crater.

It's known to be a tough but interesting climb that traverses a variety terrain. One first passes through fields meadows and then begins the ascent through rainforest jungles. The terrain shifts fairly quickly to steep mud walls before turning eventually to gravelly volcanic rock. After summit the volcano, hiker can continue by making the steep descent to Maderas' crater lake—a soft marsh, blanketed with the brightest green grass, that transitions into a freshwater lagoon.

Depending on the cloud cover, the views during the climb range from spectacular to lacklustre to non-existent. The reward is the hike itself. It fun to behold the dense jungle of hanging bromeliads and lichens and to hear the calls of birds and monkeys. If you keep your eyes on the canopy, you're likely to see white-faced capuchin monkeys and mantled howler monkeys as well as parakeets, squirrels, butterflies, large beetles, caterpillars, bats, and urracas (large blue swallowtails). Closer to the top, on a clear day, one can catch some spectacular views of Concepción. It's also possible to pitch a tent and camp out overnight at the top of Maderas, provided you're willing (and able) to carry your gear.

The 4km ascent is long, muddy and slippery. To reach the summit takes about four-hours on average, but can take up to 5.5 hours depending on your group and personal level of fitness.

A guided tour cost about US$20 per person. Pack sufficient food and water and remember to bring a light jacket.

Relaxing at Ojo de Agua

Ojo de Agua is a natural pool of running mineral water.

Kayak & Boating

Kayaking the Rio Istián, which cuts across the isthmus connecting Volcán Concepción and Volcán Maderas, is fun and adventurous opportunity to check out some of Ometepe's wildlife. If you depart early, you'll see a tremendous variety of birds, and you're also likely to spot turtles, caimans and howler monkeys.

Tours can be organized through nearby hotels, e.g. Caballito's Mar Hotel (tel: (505) 8451 2093).

Horseback Riding

Horses help to traverse muddy and steep terrain with relative ease, and hence offer island explorers access to various sites and landscapes that one might otherwise miss. Go for a ride towards the lake and explore the tiny villages. Go to San Ramon waterfalls. Canter along one of the island’s beaches or trot the ring around Maderas Volcano. The beaches around Santo Domingo are also a nice place to ride.

There are few independent operators, so the best bet for organizing a riding tour is via your hotel. Albergue Ecológico El Porvenir is known to help with such tours, including a ride to the slopes of Vulcán Maderas (steep terrain through the forest, plantations and pastures scattered with volcanic rocks, offering some great views). The price for renting horses and a guide should be between US $5 and US $7 US per hour. As of 2010, Albergue Ecológico El Porvenir was helping visitors with a 2,5 hours ride for US $5 per hour.

Biking / Mountain Biking / Motorbiking

To cycle around Maderas it is 35 km. The unpaved roads on the island are comprised mainy of dirt and rough gravel. Ideal for mountain biking, but also a bit bumpy. The south-eastern section of the island in particular is mostly unpaved, rutted and muddy. You share the road with the horseback riders, dirt bikers, walkers and cow herders, but overall there is little traffic.

One can rent a mounting bike at many hotels on Isla de Ometepe. As of July 2009, Albergue Ecológico El Porvenir offers rentals for US $3 per hour.

References

Photo Credits

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