Friday, September 16, 2011

Ometepe and San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua 9-15 Sept 2011

Lake Nicaragua

Ometepe 9-12 Sept 2011
Volcán Concepción is one of the 2 volcanoes that form the island of Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua. It is an active volcano, since 1883, Concepción has erupted at least 25 times; its last eruption was on 9 March 2010. It is the largest volcanic island inside a fresh water lake in the world. It is my target to conquer Volcán Concepción.
While I was waiting for the ferry at the terminal, I made friends with the 3 Argentineans and a gal from London. We planned to stay at Hospedaje Central and they wanted to climb Volcán Concepción too. A guide approaches us and she wanted to be our guide. She has been guide for 10 months, I decided to follow them as going with a group will be better. She helps us to get to Hospedaje Central but it was full, then she showed us to another hostel. All 6 of us move in to a dorm. The hostel seems to be nice with new bed and hammock at the roof top to chill. But when night comes, the Karaoke bar next to the hostel was just too loud! :-( The British gal-Fev suspected she has malaria, she has rashes and fever off and on for 2 days. She went to the local hospital to get herself tested but the hospital do not have the facility. They gave her drips and kept her for observation in the hospital and wanted her to go to Rivas for the check the next morning. So we got her some food, her backpack and emergency insurance contact number just in case she wanted to get help. She stayed one night at the hospital. After a proper test the next day at Managua, she was confirmed not infected by denggi or malaria. I was glad to hear that.
Back at the hostel, another 3 Argentineans join us, so they are total 6 now. :-) They speak spanish like they are singing. 5 Argentineans and I decided to climb the volcano. We bought some bananas, biscuits, bread and 2L of water for the hike. I have asked the guide to lend me a walking stick and a small backpack. I have learnt from Rinjani that a walking stick is crucial for mountain climbing.
The next morning the guide pick us up at 5:45am, she brief us that it will take us about 8 to 9 hours the entire journey depending on our fitness. We hop onto a local bus to the nearby village, from the village we walked 2km to the foot of the volcano, then we start our first 1000m ascent trekking up the jungle to reach the view point. It was an easy climb up. We stop at the view point to admire the beautiful view and recharge with some bananas.
From the view point onwards there was no more shade, we have to climb on hard sharp rocks 45 degree up. The view was magnificent. We reached the top at around 11am, at the crater the sulfur smoke was too strong, we could only stay for a few minutes and we didn't get to see the inside of the crater because it was too cloudy and too smoky. We had to cover our nose with wet cloth in order not to get suffocated from the sulfur smoke. We started our decent down.
The way down was horrible, we have to walk down the rocky slope which is slippery and dangerous. People died from falling and injured their head. I was scared even with my climbing shoe and a walking stick to support. My knees were literally shaking every steps I made. On the way down we saw a group of White-Faced Capuchin monkeys. I was too tired to take out my camera. :-( We all made it down eventually. Exhausted!
The next 2 days we were in pain, but instead of sitting in the hostel, the 3 Argentineans wanted to go for mountain biking, so I joined them, lucky me! :-) I could see the entire island, we went riding around the 2 volcanoes basically the entire island. The road was really bad, at the end of the day we can’t feel our butt anymore. We drove to a fresh water pool, had a soak in the fresh cool water, we drove pass many villages and people are just so warm and friendly here. It was just another great day!
I left with the 6 Argentineans to San Juan Del Sur. It was great travelling with them as they will deal with all the bus and touts. :-) I just follow.

San Juan Del Sur 12-15 Sept 2011

San Juan Del Sur is a coastal town on the Pacific Ocean and a surfer's paradise. Facing west towards Pacific Ocean means we get the best sunset from the beach. There are not many tourists during the low season now. The Argentineans found a great deal for hostel @ US$5 with breakfast. All 7 of us packed in 1 dorm. At night, Chef Jerry made Pizza on the BBQ pit. It tasted just like a famous Italian pizza. On the 2nd night Chef Martin made BBQ Chicken. Yummy too! :-) Travelling with them was just so relaxing. I don’t have to think too much of where to eat, what to eat and what to do. :-)

The bay in San Juan Del Sur is not suitable for surfing or swimming as drainage goes into the bay, so the boys got a private transport to Maderas beach. They rented 2 boards for surfing, I went with them to chill at the beach. I didn’t know learning surfing was so hard! One need to paddle so hard to go out to the sea and a few waves will just push you back to the shore. It’s even more difficult to stand on the board, by looking at the 4 of them trying so hard and only 1 succeeded, I don’t think I will learn surfing.
We stayed one more day at San Juan Del Sur just to chill and do nothing. We were at San Juan Del Sur on eve of Independence day. That night I join them out partying, the bar was so packed. It was by the beach with nice view from the upper floor.

We left for Costa Rica all together, at the Nicaragua border I bid farewell to all of them as they are heading towards San Jose and I am going towards Liberia.

I have enjoyed Nicaragua especially for the volcanoes, and it is the cheapest country to travel in Central America. People are nice and friendly, always available to help. :-)
Ometepe – The Landing Hostel – US$5 for a dorm bed and WIFI available
San Juan Del Sur – Joxi Hostel - US$5 for a dorm bed with breakfast and WIFI available

Chicken bus from Granada to Rivas – C25
Taxi collectivo from Rivas to San Jorge – C25
Ferry to/from Ometepe – C30 one way
Bus to/from foot of Volcan Concepcion - C10 one way
Bus from San Jorge to Rivas – C5
Bus from Rivas to San Juan Del Sur – C15
San Juan Del Sur – Transport to Maderas Beach – US$5 return
Bus from San Juan Del Sur to La Virgen – C10
Bus from La Virgen to Sapoa – C20

Ometepe – Guide fee to climb Volcan Concepcion – C10 with a group of 6
Ometepe – Motobike rental for a day – C15 including petrol and share bike
To leave Nicaragua - Pay C20 to the Municipality of Sapoa
- Pay C45 to exit Nicaragua

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