kayaking at Isla de Ometepe

Two ethereal volcanoes and the isthmus between them make up Isla de Ometepe. Volcan Concepcion is larger, active and periodically spews ash. It is said to be one of the most perfect shaped volcanoes in existence. Volcan Maderas is smaller, extinct and covered in cloud forest. The two cones are nature reserves and are connected by a 5 km wide isthmus created by lava flow. Inhabitants of Ometepe are mostly fishermen and farmers. Cattle, horses, pigs wander across fields and over roads. Spending time in Ometepe is like being in a time warp.

The vegetation after the heavy rain season is lush and the lake as well as the river is at record high levels at present. Beaches are covered and trees on river or lake edge are submerged to their branches.

We are on this trip with our friends and loyal blog followers, Mike and Sharon who are here visiting for the first time.

We take the ferry towards a very misted Volcan Concepcion – hardly visible until we get closer and suddenly the clouds move and it appears before us. The roads on Ometepe, other than the main one which crosses the whole island, are very challenging. Some of them are being worked on and replaced by real roads – with mixed reception to this modernization of island infrastructure. We make our way slowly towards our destination.
Totoco is a sustainable eco lodge which is perched up on the slopes of Volcan Madera. It is pretty unique to be standing on a dormant volcano and looking out towards another active and majestic volcano, with views of the lake on both sides. Probably one of the best views I have ever seen. There are a few bungalows all replete with compost toilets, surrounded by lush vegetation and tropical flowers and great views. Emma, Mike’s daughter has been part of the volunteer program for the past few weeks and has learnt about organic gardening, grey water, making a compost shower and the simple way of life.

For the first night we all stay in the large dorm room for twelve dollars a bed. No average dorm room, as the top bunk beds have a view directly towards the volcano. Feels like being back in summer camp as we all settle in for the night. Second night, we opt for one of the bungalows, getting the experience of both.

Highlight of our trip is our day spent kayaking. A van takes us over bumpy roads that are more like river beds than roads, past fields of rice and large sheets of rice drying outside modest homes which have a huge volcano in their backyard. I think this is my first kayak experience and its a good one. We start out in the lake and make our way across the expanse of water towards the river which is wedged on the isthmus between the two volcanoes. Rather surreal to be in a little kayak on a huge lake with an enormous volcano emerging from the waters. The river is at capacity and we make our way in some parts under the canopy of branches which are now almost submerged in the river. We see birds and hear monkeys and after a good three hours or more on the lake, make our way back to the little restaurant where we rented the kayaks. We consume ridiculously large amounts of fried and grilled fresh fish and maduros before heading back to the fresh water pool at Totoco.

2 thoughts on “kayaking at Isla de Ometepe

  1. mac

    I loved 4X4’ing around here back in the early 90’s–my only regret: not hiking up to the top; I understand there is lake at the top of one of these two cones?

  2. petakaplan

    Thanks Mac. Early nineties in Nicaragua? Cool. I have not climbed all the way to the top of either volcano, but I have heard that there is a volcanic lake, yes.


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