Isla Ometepe and the Big Volcano Climb

If you’ve been following my posts you might have noticed volcanos popping up with increasing frequency. This is what you get when wandering carelessly into the famed Ring of Fire, an appropriately dramatic name for the geographic arc home to most of the world’s volcano’s and earthquakes. While its probably as dramatic as it gets for all those geologist types, it also makes for some dramatic scenery for carelessly wandering tourists.

It also means, however, you can’t come to this part of the world without thinking of climbing one of the many volcanos you pass along the way … And pretty much every one offers some sort of trek (even those still active, which must be amazing but slightly worrying). I’d decided to (nobly / strategically or whatever ) save myself for the unique freak of geography, Isla Ometepe, an island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua basically made up of not one but two volcano’s.


Fortunately I made friends on the Che Gueverra ferry I took over to the island and amongst much debate, lack of planning and frantic guide book reading, our taxi driver was able to direct us to some accommodation with some much needed food. While 3600 people apparently live on the island, tourist infrastructure is refreshingly minimal so were quite lucky out the gate. Omatepe is beyond peaceful and set out in such a way that it seems wherever you look one of the volcanos are in view. At this juncture we also decided to forgo the alleged 12 hour climb of the bigger but impressive Volcano Conception for the mere 8 hour climb of the smaller Volcano Maderas. This was obviously to have a view of Conception’s cone, which is apparently the most perfectly formed in the world for all you geologist types, and because there was a lagoon we could swim in at the top.

The climb started well when we decided to leave late so we could fit in the hotel’s breakfast. As you can tell we meant business.


The uphill was immediate and relentless. Most of the path was incredibly rocky meaning you had to watch every step and often (not very gracefully) pull yourself up and over all number of obstacles. And then there was the mud further up the volcano. It was the slipperiest mud I have ever encountered and we were “lucky” to be doing this in the dry season. The scenery was pretty good though.




Of course we summited. I was caked in mud pretty much from head to toe. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to wear some items of clothing ever again. And while being inside the volcano was beautiful and a thrill, you can imagine our disappointment when we discovered that our lagoon swim would have been little more then a wallow in more mud.




When all was said and done it all felt like a great achievement … Even though we trekked for around 9 and a half hours and cannot understand how other people could have done it quicker. Volcano’s are hard work! It was at this juncture that we decided to reward ourselves with some local beers and swim in the serene Lake. I’d worn my filthy, falling apart, two year old trainers down to the water since I figured no-one could possibly ever want them, especially after the days activity. So I’m not saying that it’s a sign that they were stolen. I’m just telling it how it happened. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.




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