When travelling Central America, countries such as Costa Rica, Mexico and Belize always stand out and dominate the headlines. However it’s in countries such as Guatemala and Nicaragua that really harness true surprises.
If you follow a Wandering Memory will have already heard of my love for Guatemala, however I have yet to share an experience of Nicaragua. So I thought I would start with a place of true wonder called Ometepe Island.
Ometepe Island is located in the centre of the country’s largest lake, literally an island inside a country. This is no normal island, the island is actually the amalgamation of two volcanoes, one active, one extinct. The active volcano is called Conception and is situated in the north, dominating the skyline in true cone fashion. While its baby extinct brother Maderas is in the south surrounded by a cloud forest. In the crater lies an incredible mist shrouded lagoon. Just seeing the island itself is a wandering memory in itself.
We caught the ferry to the island from nearby Rivas, which in itself was an experience. It’s such an incredible view that the closer you get the more excited you get. The Island itself is essentially a Volcano, we were staying on a Volcano! However saying that we had a very nice apartment on the Volcano.
Upon exploring the island, it’s more than just a couple of volcanoes, the island is a picture of serenity, quiet and peaceful. Our accommodation was right on the coast, next to the island’s most wondrous beach. That is so we were told, as we visited in rainy season, the tide was so high there was literally no beach! It didn’t take away from the beauty of the resort, with an incredible view of Conception.
There is nothing like lying in a hammock surrounded by nature, in a tropical paradise just relaxing – truly mesmerizing. The main activity in the area is hiking, either volcano is an ideal choice, however be warned they are not for the faint hearted and you must hire a guide. On those hikes you may even be be lucky enough to bump into a host of howling monkeys, exotic birds galore or even a stray mountain crab.
Unfortunately a number of us were taken ill in Ometepe, mainly from travelers sickness, but a few who will remain nameless were suffering from injuries sustained while drinking! Therefore we had to remain in close proximity to the hotel, removing our opportunity to delve into the wilderness further.
This is a far cry from the rest of Nicaragua, which is rumoured to be the poorest of all Central American countries. It’s simple, authentic, wondrous even! Ometepe is truly a special, magical place.
Nicaragua has a troubled past with history of dictatorship, war and civil unrest. However we saw very little of that, what we witnessed was a friendly, raw and scenic land. Ometepe is just a single example of a country on the rise, with an underexplored caribbean coast, beautiful jungle wilderness and picturesque towns. Nicaragua is an example of a tourist mecca of the future.
A Wandering Memory has already released a number of blogs that concentrate on Central America however there is still a lot more to come – so stay tuned.