Isla de Ometepe

Our view from the viewing point

We explained how we got to the island and a little about Finca El Porvenir.  In addition to the natural beauty of this island, there are petraglyphs located around various parts of the island but many are in the area of El Porvenir.  These stone carvings depicting humans, animals, birds and other geometrics shapes are courtesy of the Chorotega settlement dating back to around 300 B.C.  Here are some samples along with some other photos.  To locate on the map where we stayed, if you see the road crossing the isthmus right along the coast, take a right at Santa Cruz and El Porvenir is about 1.5km along that road.

Our guide Harold telling us about the rice fieldEl Porvenir is also the primary point at which to begin a hike up the Maderas volcano.  We were able to join a group that was setting out to hike to the top.  The group consisted of a local guide, 2 ladies from Germany and 1 lady from Holland.  Valerie and I weren’t prepared to hike to the top (about 5,000 feet elevation gain, we hadn’t prepared lunch and perhaps not quite fit enough) but the guide agreed to have us join them to the viewpoint, which is about halfway up.  He said that he could have someone bring us back down to El Porvenir.  The hike to the top is generally an 8 hour round trip.  To the viewpoint is a 3 to 4 hour round trip.

The hike to the viewpoint was good, the last third was a pretty steep walk.  From this point, we could see the complete other volcano, the isthmus joining the two volcanoes, the lake on either side and the western shoreline of Lake Nicaragua.  Quite a panorama.  Along the way we observed a bit of the cloud forest, a family of monkeys high in the trees and many of the crops grown on Ometepe.  On the way up, the guide stopped to speak to a boy working with (perhaps) his father in one of the rice fields.  This turned out to be our guide for the way back to the bottom.  It was interesting that the guide had no doubt that he would find someone along the way that could do this for us.  If you’re paying attention, I think it’s not that difficult to find your way back, although there is a possibility of choosing a wrong path.  I think they insist on using a guide for the most safety and to help support the locals.

Our young guide, Jason & his dogsThe young boy came up to the viewpoint to meet us before the remaining group left to continue to the top.  His name was Jason and appeared to be about 15 or 16 years old.  He didn’t really speak but he walked slowly and took care to not get too far in front of us.  He had 3 dogs along with him that enthusiastically led the way and scouted out the surrounding area.

We didn’t get to see too much of the rest of the island.  It rained quite a bit on the second day we were there.  It’s really quite difficult to get around the island.  You either walk, ride a bicycle, ride a motorbike, rent a car, hire a taxi/guide or try to catch the infrequent bus service.  Once we got to our hotel, our options were quite limited.

It seems that most of the people on the island either make their living from tourism or agriculture.  The major crops on Ometepe are plantains, rice, corn, beans, tobacco, mangos, coffee and sesame seeds.  Yes, have you ever seen a crop of sesame seeds?  Neither had we until this.

If I were to make this trip again, I would plan for a longer stay and perhaps rent a motorbike to allow better opportunity to see more of the island.  Ometepe is a beautiful and unique place with much to offer.

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