Saturday, 23 June 2012

Days 54-55: Ometepe: the duel volcanic island

Ometepe was an island like none other. Situated in Lake Nicaragua, it was an island formed by two volcanoes that were joined by a narrow strip of land formed from ancient lava flows. The island comprises of thick jungle, waterfalls, organic farms and limited transport which made it feel a little bit like the Lost World.

Volcan Concepcion 

The loading dock, San Jorge
From Granada, we took a 1.5h (completely packed) chicken bus at 6.35am to Rivas (C$27), a taxi to San Jorge (C$20 pp) where we got the 9.00am boat (C$35) to Moyogalpa on Ometepe. There was also an option to get a ferry or boat to the newer port, San Jose del Sur, but these run less frequently. There was a possibility that we could have got a  boat straight from Granada but it only ran on Monday and Thursday.

Harry basking in the sun on route to Ometepe...
which resulted in a dreadful panda burn!

We timed this pretty well as there there were only a few buses running each day way to the small town of Balgue (the nearest town to our accommodation). There was, of course, an option to grab a taxi which was direct but they cost around $35 whereas the bus cost us about $1... easy decision. 

Our advice is to look up the boat and bus schedules in advanced as the price of boats/ferries varies and only some are coordinated with departing buses.

The El Zopilote shop
The bus ride throughout the island took around 2h as the buses had to go around the two large volcanoes. We chose to stay at a small organic farm near Balgue called El Zopilote, ran by an Italian man called Cristiano from Tuscany. 

After the bus dropped us off at the entrance, we walked up the path to another chicken bus that had been converted into an organic shop selling the farm’s homemade breads and muffins, marmalades, honey and nutella, as well as some rustic jewellery. 

Jewellery, crafts and food products from the farm

The communal kitchen
The farm was 5 hectares of lush tropical plants and fruit trees such as banana, lime, mango and star fruit (we were free to pick as much fruit as we liked!). We stayed in a basic stilted hut with a double bed underneath a much needed mosquito net ($16 a night). 

The whole farm was run using sustainable practices such as composted toilets and a constructed wetland for filtering and cleaning the water for re-use. There was nothing quite like showering in the dark underneath the starry sky. There was also a communal kitchen with the option to buy food at the reception. All the huts, showers and toilets on the farm are spaced out so a headlamp was definitely a good idea after sunset!

Our breakfast of homemade bread and Nutella
with one of our freebie bananas

The beautiful wood burning pizza oven

The best part of having a farm run by an Italian was the hand-built wood pizza oven. Three times a week (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday) the farm hosts a pizza night with delicious thin based pizzas (must say this was our deciding factor for choosing here!). People from nearby hostels come to enjoy an evening of food, music, stars and many excited travellers. A note of caution, there was no mozzarella cheese in Nicaragua! The local cheese had a strange crumbly texture but don't let that stop you, Harry didn't notice until I told him! 
On a very hot and hilly bike ride to Ojo de Agua
The next day we rented bikes from a place 200m down the road (C$120 for a day) and cycled to "Ojo de Agua" ("Eye of Water") which was a man made pool made from a natural volcanic water source. The pool was 8km away from the farm and required cycling up and down many hills in the blazing heat. 

By the time we arrived at the pool, we were so hot and sweaty that the chilly water of the pool was the greatest relief! There are deck chairs surrounding the pool for relaxing, a bar for food and drinks and a rope swing for pure fun.

Ojo de Agua

It was hard to leave the oasis as it meant more cycling to the next town, Altagracia, a further 4km away but the town was dead since it was a Sunday so we had a brutal 12km ride back (mainly uphill) to San Domingo for food at a nice veggie restaurant called Natural. We raced back to return the bikes before it got dark. We were so filthy and sweaty that all we were looking forward to was our shower under the stars.

No comments:

Post a Comment