A Travellerspoint blog

Isla Ometepe by Bike

semi-overcast 28 °C


After spending a good 4 days in the city of Leon, we headed for Isla Ometepe. Ometepe is a volcanic island formed by two volcanoes in Lake Nicaragua, just outside of Managua the capital city of Nicaragua.


Ometepe is very popular with the hiking crowd, and it's biggest attractions are obviously climbing the two volcanoes. We decided not to climb either for two reasons; it rained every afternoon, and there are only a few days of the year when the peaks are not covered in cloud. We decided it would be very anticlimatic to spend six hours hiking up a volcano only to see fog, and then slide back down in mud and rain. (Also we were a little volcanoed-out, and lazy...)


One of the volcanoes shrouded in cloud

Loads of people had been raving about Ometepe, so our expectations of the place were high. We arrived on the island just as it started to rain after what can be characterized as a a semi-comfortable boat trip from the main land depending on your sea legs.
We walked around the little town at the jetty, and decided we were not impressed. We were, on the other hand, tired and in need of a shower, so we found a place and crashed.
The next day we woke up to better weather, and after much indecision we finally rented a bike and drive around the island instead of climbing the volcanoes :)


Our ride

We started our tour by checking out a mineral water lagoon called Ojo de Agua. The place had been built up like a pool, but instead of your normal chlorinated pool water, crystal clear natural mineral water ran through it. The security guy at the entrance tried to convince us it was a fountain of youth. Right. Magical powers or not, it was a beautiful place :)



After spending some time at the lagoon we headed for one of the beaches on the other side of the island. It turned out that rainy season is not the best time to visit the beaches of Ometepe, as they are all submerged. Nevertheless it was a nice ride, and Jason was pretty pumped to show me his newly acquired bike skills. I was impressed for about five minutes until he tried going around a speed bump like a local and we almost bailed, after that I mostly just kept my eyes shut.


If you're on an island consisting of two volcanoes, is there really anywhere to go in the case of an eruption?


Even security guards need a nap

After sightseeing we had dinner with a really nice kiwi couple, Ally and Sean, and when the power went out we decided to call it a night and leave the next morning. Our next stop was another beach town, that of San Juan del Sur close to the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border :)

Posted by CanWay 15:03 Archived in Nicaragua Comments (1)

Volcano boarding in Leon

sunny 35 °C


After leaving the turtles and La Tortuga we headed for Nicaragua. To get there you have to cross two borders, El Salvador-Honduras and Honduras-Nicaragua. The drive through Honduras only takes about two hours as the majority of the country lies on the caribbean coast of Central-America. You can get a chartered bus from pretty much anywhere in El Salvador to Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. However, we were too cheap to opt for such an expensive (and air conditioned) option, and decided to do it ourselves using local buses. This decision was probably one of the poorest we've made so far.
After changing buses 5 times, waiting for several hours altogether for these buses to be ready to go, fighting with immigration officers at both boarders (without any luck) about entry fees, we were let off the bus in the middle of nowhere outside Leon just as the sky opened soaking our backpacks well within the time we could find a taxi.

When we woke up the next day after passing out on our bunk beds in a musty dorm the skies had cleared and we went to search for a new hostel and check out the city :)

Leon is a beautiful city, and we spent a day walking the streets and checking out the old cathedral


Streets of Leon


Leon Cathedral. Very narrow stairs leading to the cathedral roof



Cathedral roof


Cathedral garden. Ruben Dario's grave inside the chruch


What? Franks? in Nicaragua?! Jason's in heaven :)

One of the most popular activities in Leon is volcano boarding. Just outside of Leon lies the still active volcano Cerro Negro. Because it is covered in volcanic ash and gravel it is perfect for the sport of volcano boarding. At its steepest the volcano has a 42 degree incline. This might sound pretty steep, but when you're standing at the top of the volcano clutching your plywood board looking down it seems REALLY steep.
Volcano boarding is number two on the list of "50 things to do before you're 50", and we decided we had to cross that off our list :)


On our way to the volcano


Random iguana farm at the foot of the volcano


Slopes going down Cerro Negro. Climbing the volcano.


At the top :) Instructions are being given


All suited up!


Ready to go :)


Having second thoughts... But, inevitably there is no way back.

Of course we both made it and Jason came very close to making the top 5 all-time list with a speed of 81 km/h at the end of the hill!! The current record is 87 km/h, and was set by a Danish girl on our trip. Insane.


Made it!

After spending four full days in Leon we were sighted out, and also fed up with the heat and noise of the city. From Leon we went to the volcanic island Isla Ometepe located in a huge lake just outside Managua. Pictures will be up later :)

Posted by CanWay 14:37 Archived in Nicaragua Comments (1)

Saving the turtles at El Cuco

sunny 35 °C


After partying for a couple of days in El Tunco we packed our backpacks and headed for another small El Salvadorian beach town, El Cuco. This was supposed to be a quick stop before going to Nicaragua. We ended up at a hostel/hotel/resort called La Tortuga Verde just outside of El Cuco. It's a pretty elaborate place right on a deserted beach with rooms to fit different budgets. We ended up in a second storey room where three of the bedroom walls were mosquito netting only :)


Welcoming drink :)


Our room :)


Beach just outside the hostel


Jas catching white water


Beach Cow


Jas and Alfred the hostel bird with the broken wing

The owner of La Tortuga keeps a turtle hatchery at the resort taking care of turtle eggs bought off of locals. Turtle eggs are considered a delicasse not only in El Salvador but in most Central- American countries. Unfortunately the custom of eating turtle eggs is putting the future of the turtles at risk, and turtle hatcheries have sprung up all over Central- America.


Turtle hatchery

Our second day at La Tortuga we were very lucky to witness the hatching of over 150 turtle babies!! Normally the mother will lay her eggs in a hole she has dug fairly close to the ocean, and the newborn turtles can make their way to the water themselves once they hatch. The hatchery at La Tortuga was a little further away from the ocean, and we had to carry the turtles down to the waterfront to set them free.


Hatching turtles


Checking if the turtles are ready to go in the ocean


Baby turtle :)


Carrying turtles to the shore


Baby turtles on their way out to sea

The next day another batch of eggs hatched and we got to everything over again :)


Michael Jackson Turtle :)


Sunset Turtle :)

We ended up spending more time at La Tortuga than planned, but with the turtles and the relaxed atmosphere it was well worth it :)
Eventually we made our way to the bus station and Nicaragua. Pictures coming soon!

Posted by CanWay 20:59 Archived in El Salvador Comments (2)

El Tunco

sunny 30 °C


After Antigua we left Guatemala for El Salvador. After an uneventful border crossing we spent an uneventful day in the capital city, San Salvador, trying to find me a new camera. El Salvador has a very high number of unregistered guns, and they seemed to be everywhere. San Salvador has a rumor of being unsafe for tourist after dark, so we had no desire to stay in the city longer than necessary.
From San Salvador we made our way to the small beach town of El Tunco.

El Salvador hasn't experienced as much tourism as it's neighbouring countries due to a relatively recent civil war that lasted for years. Almost all the indigenous people of the country were killed off, which is visible in the make up of the population which looks very Spanish compared to the people of Guatemala.
Nowadays it is safe to travel El Salvador, and all the people we met proved to be very nice and always interested in helping us.

Once we were all checked in at our hostel we went straight for the beach :)


Good to finally be at the beach again after weeks in the mountains :)


After beach beer...

El Tunco is a surfer town, and it turned out to be not only difficult, but also a little dangerous to swim there. Jason attempted, again, to surf, but following the trend a storm had just gone past, and the conditions weren't exactly those of a new beginner :(

Nevertheless, we still had fun in El Tunco, there was always a party :)


Surfer sunset


Party at one of El Tunco's many bars

Other than partying and relaxing in the sun El Tunco didn't have much to offer for us, but we were happy with that :)


Relaxing in the hostel pool


Relaxing at our favourite riverside coffee shop :)

From El Tunco we went to another little beach town on the coast of El Salvador, El Cuco. Pictures will be up soon :)

Posted by CanWay 14:33 Archived in El Salvador Comments (1)


sunny 25 °C


After spending a day in Chichicastenango we got on the chicken bus heading for Antigua. For those unfamiliar with the term, here is a brief explanation: Local buses in many Central American countries are old U.S school buses repainted in bright coloures blasting the latest hits of the country. There is no limit to how many people one can fit in a bus, no matter how full it is Central American bus drivers seem incapable to pass potential passengers along the way. Seats made for two people appear to have plenty of room for three, in some cases five people depending on their size. Three Jason's or four Anne's plus a baby for example. Also you are free to bring your chickens, roosters or other farm birds on board. Hence the name.


Chicken buses in Antigua

Our plan was to continue our Spanish classes in Antigua, but realising that we had arrived on Halloween we decided to postpone the classes a couple of days and party instead. We headed for the market and I ended up with a pirate costume while Jason decided to dress up as Hunter S. Thompson. Unfortunately I had my camera stolen that night, so we don't have any pictures to show you :(
After what can be defined as a late night I, and our dorm room mates woke up to the sound of Jason falling out of the top bunk. Still slightly drunk and fumbling around in the dark we eventually made it to the bathroom and did a pretty good job of cleaning his bloody face up. The next morning he didn't look too bad, just a little sore and bruised. As far as the cut above his eye goes, its just a small scar now five weeks later.


Top Bunk Tumble

After a spending a couple of days at a hostel in town, we moved in with a Guatemalan family as part of our Spanish course. It was an interesting experience since none of us speak Spanish that well, but it worked out in a way.


Outside our "home" in Antigua

As we had to get to class at eight every morning we mostly spent our afternoons wandering the city and went to bed pretty early. Antigua is a beautiful city full of old colonial style buildings dating back from the Spanish invasion.


Streets of Antigua


La Merced Church


Cobbled streets were everywhere


More markets, yay!

Antigua is surrounded by three volcanoes, and there are also a number of volcanes only a short drive away. We set out to climb one of the volcanes outside of the city, Pacaya. Pacaya is still active, and last erupted in 2010. While walking up the last bit to the top you could feel the heat on the ground, and hot water vapor came out of "vents" on the rock.


At the foot of Pacaya


Armed robberies of tourists have been reported on volcano hikes, and this 16-year old sporting a machete prestented to us as our security guide certainly made us feel safer.



Making s'mores :)

After the hike we were starving and went to out favourite bar for Nachos. If you ever go to Antigua be sure to visit Mono Loco for their HUGE and tasty nachos!




Food coma

The morning following our hike we left Antigua and Guatemala for El Salvador. Pictures will be up soon, we promise to blog more frequently now that we've finally bought a lap top (Yay!)

Posted by CanWay 13:32 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

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