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Ometepe – L’île volcanique du Nicaragua

Ometepe – The Volcanic Island of Nicaragua


Granada - Las Rivas
1h30 in chicken bus - 100HNL (3.30 euros)

Accompanied by 4 guys I met at the hostel and with whom I had a good time the day before, I headed for the island of Ometepe. We immediately find a bus leaving for La Rivas. My companions do not negotiate the price. OK, I'm not saying anything. Traveling with other people also gives me insight into how other people travel. The driver organizes the transfer to Las Rivas to return to the port. Ma! He sniffed out the gringos. 

Las Rivas - Ferry
20 mins by taxi - 100 HNL

The taxi in question is a simple car. He makes a micmac for us with our luggage in the trunk, which will make the journey wide open and tied up with cables. We 5 rush into the car. At 6 with the driver we leave for the ferry 😂.

Ferry - Moyogalpa
1h by ferry - 50 HNL

Barely arrived at the port, we are solicited by an agency installed on the port. The tenant explains to us with great assurance that there will be no transport available when we arrive on the island. Luckily, he can arrange that for us. I just ignore what he says and get ready to leave but obviously, my companions at the moment buy everything we tell them. Being in the minority, I say nothing and observe how 4 fellows in backpacks manage their movements. Of course, the price offered is just a joke. But no choice as specified by my new friends or even arf, divide by 5, that's fine. In short ! Distressing ! Thereupon, our dear tenant outbids by explaining to us that the island is complete and that there is only one accommodation left by the name of Zopilote. I have not heard anything good about it and I am not excited at all to go there. The 4 accomplices panic and acquiesce immediately for this solution which they experience as a rescue. I am already in stunned mode! So certainly they are funny but I already saturate. I often hear it said that it is better together. Hey no! not here. But hey, I said I was traveling with them to Ometepe, so let's go. Good solitary that I am, I must certainly learn to live in a group, I admit that it is not my forte. But well, when I see that, I tell myself that I am doing better on my own. In the meantime, we embark on the ferry which promises us a magnificent crossing including a superb sunset with the Conception volcano as a backdrop

Moyogalpa - El Madronal
1 hour by taxi - 180HNL (6 euros) each. Yes, you read that right.

Indeed, our expensive shuttle takes us to the other side of the island to Zopilote, which has some surprises in store for us. Endless path on a semblance of a stone path in a dark night. Home rotten. 3 hammocks are available and 2 beds in separate dorms. All dispatched in a jungle where indications are rare. That evening, we have the right as a bonus to a techno evening. It is well worth finding yourself in the middle of nothing to find so much noise. The only thing that could have been nice, the silence, has just been reduced to nothing by starting their uproar. Blasé, I will be back on the road the next day.

Ometepe Island - Nicaragua's Top Attraction

Its composition made of two volcanoes, connected by a flat and thin isthmus, in the middle of a freshwater lake makes it a unique island of its kind. Lake Cocibolca, which surrounds it with its 8,200 km2,2, is the largest in Central America and the 10tth of the planet.

Picturesque, as if stuck in the 50s, Ometepe is an invitation to contemplation. Its rich natural attractions and history attract visitors. Its many trails make it a destination of choice for hiking enthusiasts. The Island was classified as a “Biosphere Reserve” by UNESCO in 2010. It has around 35,000 inhabitants scattered in several small villages. 

To live in Ometepe is to experience an old-fashioned art of living, to lead a simple life. Here, the inhabitants wash their laundry in the lake, on small low walls made of stone piles. Animals live freely. They walk around during the day and then return to the fold at nightfall. Nature there is simple, wild. There are many riders, not to say cowboys, who regularly try their hand at rodeo on bulls, thus animating evenings where the villages gather to toast with beer to a background of music. Everything is frozen in time, in the heart of a breathtaking landscape, with the view of volcanoes in the background.

What to do in Ometepe?

Ometepe Nicaragua
Volcan Concepcion Ometepe

Concepcion Volcano (1,610 m)

Mandatory guide. Price: 800 cordobas (20 euros) for 2 people minimum.

On the northern part of the island, the Concepcion, with its perfect cone, dominates Ometepe with its majestic air. Still active, it fascinates geologically by its color and its reddish colored veins. The hike to the top of Concepcion can be challenging. It is also not recommended for beginners. Allow 8 to 10 hours round trip with two trails to choose from. It is a physically demanding activity, only for the bravest, with steep and slippery slopes at the end, but the scenery at the top is worth it.

Click on a photo to start the slideshow

Maderas Volcano (1,395m)

Guide highly recommended. Once in the cloud forest, good luck getting your bearings. 
Price: 800 cordobas (20 euros) for a group of up to 4 people

Located on the southern part of the island, this inactive one offers a hike that can also be difficult. I have lost count of the number of people who gave up, suffered, or often saw nothing once at the top. Its permanent crown of clouds and dense vegetation increase the difficulty of its ascent. This hike, which takes about 7-8 hours round trip, follows steep, muddy trails through coffee plantations, tropical dry and wet forests. At its summit, if you are lucky, you can admire a view of the lake and the Conception volcano with the reward of a lake in the old crater (almost non-existent in the dry season). 

Volcan Maderas Ometepe
Click on a photo to start the slideshow
Rio Istian Ometepe
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Rio Istian

In my opinion, a must. Admittedly, I am keen on kayaking but I assure you, it is really something to do ! The river crosses the center of the isthmus almost cutting the island in two. The Río Istián region is marshy land on the west side of the isthmus between Maderas and Concepción. It is only accessible by water and is a perfect place to see all kinds of wild animals (turtles, white-faced capuchins, howler monkeys, caimans…) but above all a wide variety of birds. About 40 different species have been counted (egrets, whistling ducks, jacanas, etc.)

Most kayak tours start in Mérida. A guided kayak round trip from Mérida takes approximately 4 hours. from where you paddle 3km across the lake until you reach the wide mouth of the river. Personally, I left from Peru Beach, from Kayak Tours El Caiman. This is the closest location from which it is only a kilometer to the mouth of the river. Chance led me there in fact. I met Andrés by hitchhiking. He runs the kayak center for his uncle. Naturally, I went to his business where I got a great bonus price. I highly recommend it. You can contact him to +505 84228721. No need for a guide, it is impossible to get lost.

Morning excursions are recommended (before the wind picks up on the lake) but I prefer at the end of the day. So I waited for a windless day and went there around 3pm, the light is amazing, you have a great view of the two volcanoes and it is the perfect time for bird watching. The icing on the cake, the sunset lying on your kayak. 

San Ramon Waterfall

Entrance fee120 cordobas (3€). No guide needed.

By their 35 m high, the falls are impressive. They are accessible by hiking at 6km above the village of San Ramon. The trail is pretty well marked. The climb passes through farmland, citrus and avocado orchards, through tropical rainforest, with plenty of creepers, orchids and bromeliads before ending up at the falls. It takes about 3 hours (round trip). In the dry season, the low rainfall reduces the beginning of the waterfall which then allows bathing.

Click on a photo to start the slideshow
Cascade San Ramon Ometepe
Ometepe Nicaragua
Click on a photo to start the slideshow

Some more ...

Moyogalpa is the main port of the island, it is the departure point for ferries and boats. Several shuttles during the day. Moyogalpa is a small, laid-back town that has the most touristic infrastructure on the island. This is where you can find comfortable hotels, restaurants that serve international and local cuisine, car rentals, pharmacies, bars, internet cafes and a health center. The city is also the preferred gateway to the Concepcion volcano.

Punta Jesús María, located on the western part of the island. The location of this small strip of black sand that extends into the lake offers a simultaneous view of the two volcanoes of the island and allows you to see wonderful sunsets. Punta Jesus Maria has become a prominent tourist spot because here the waters separate and rejoin giving the impression that the sea splits into 2 like in the time of Moise. Possibility of camping on site.

The Charco verde lagoon is an enchanting little green lake with a landscaped trail. The Lagoon is very famous for its Indian legends and its different species of birds and howler monkeys. Nearby, there is a superb tropical garden landscaped with multicolored butterflies in semi-freedom. A belvedere provides a beautiful view of the Laguna and the villages of Moyogalpa and High grace, recognized for its local atmosphere, its churches and its small monuments dating from the pre-Columbian era. Moyogalpa and Altagracia, known for its local atmosphere, its churches and its small monuments dating from the pre-Columbian era.

The Ojo de Agua a natural source of water of volcanic origin. Unfortunately, the place is completely landscaped making it now look like a swimming pool. Suddenly, I who expected a natural place, I am disappointed. 

The Island also includes pre-Columbian petroglyphs in various places.

Other activities: horseback riding, cycling, fishing, kayaking andddd rodeo.

Accommodation Restaurant

Finca Mystica

To book Finca Mystica, click here

Little paradise lost on the island in the middle of the jungle! Here, howler monkeys and blue jays have taken up residence. I arrived for 2 nights in a dorm for 10 dollars a night. But there, I have a huge crush. In addition, I find myself with super nice people in this yurt built with natural materials, which will transform my stay into a summer camp. The must: this farm has plantations of coffee, cocoa trees, banana trees, lemon trees, cashew nuts, carambola… In short ! They make everything homemade with their products grown here organic and it is delicious. A yoga space hides in the middle of the vegetation. A reading corner, treehouse, swing, washhouse… I have so much everything that I cannot move. The different areas of the restaurant allow everyone to gather around large tables or to relax on the hammocks. Idyllic atmosphere. all with a cool welcome from Ryan, the owner. This one being very proud of what he has built with his hands with his wife. And he is right. 

Over time, both go away. So I migrate to a private cabana negotiated at 20 dollars a night. The weeks pass, I come across all kinds of corny. The nature, the calm, the howling of the monkeys in the early morning which leaves an almost disturbing calm when waking up without them.

Strengths of the establishment

Weaknesses of the establishment


It is not uncommon in Nicaragua to come across tourists dragging their paws with all kinds of bandages or even crutches. Every time I asked them what happened to them, the answer was the same: scooter accident in Ometepe. The inhabitants of the island confirmed to me that accidents were frequent due to the state of the roads. To get around, they favor the motorcycle, their wheels being wider than those of scooters which are far too small, making everything unstable.


Leonardo, Portuguese adventurer in his forties who has the particularity of crossing Central America by scooter. Like me, he fell in love with the Finca Mystica from which he also has a lot of trouble getting out ahaha. Between long discussions, horseback riding and meals shared at the finca, we will develop a beautiful friendship. 

Dan, a 26-year-old Israeli traveling on the American continent. At first alone, he met 2 Israelis on his way with whom he continues his journey today. After a tragic accident during his adolescence which left him quadriplegic for many months, he developed an extraordinary strength, will, faith in life, which will allow him to overcome hardships and recover his physical abilities. His maturity, his understanding of the world and his density truly fascinated me. I have deep respect and admiration for him. I loved our times together. I hope our paths will cross again. 

Anne-Laure, a French woman in her thirties who left everything in France to build herself somewhere else. This journey of several months is a quest for herself and a discovery of the world. Always smiling and full of ideas, I will spend a lot of time in her pleasant company. 


The Cocibolca is the only freshwater lake in the world with sharks. Yes you read that right, bulldog sharks more precisely. Indeed, they have the unique characteristic among sharks to acclimatize to hyposaline waters. Given this fact and due to the small distance from the Pacific Ocean, scientists believe that the territory on which the lake is now located was once a large sea bay. Over time, the passage to the sea closed and a lake was formed, in which sharks still live. That said, locals say they have not seen one for a long time.


I fell in love with this island which kept me for a full month. Happiness in its purest form, an enchanting living environment where time has stood still, where life is simple with no frills. I met beautiful people with positive energy, amazing personalities, endowed with great kindness. These people have greatly contributed to my well being there. I will come back, for sure !

Next destination:  San Juan – Nicaragua. 

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One Comment

April 3, 2022 5:16 pm

tu arrives à visiter des endroits tous aussi insolites, géniaux, magiques mais aussi à rencontrer des personnes tout au long de ton périple. c’est la vraie richesse que tu auras accumulée tout au long de ton voyage en Amérique centrale et du sud. ce sont des moments qui restent à jamais gravés dans ta mémoire.Bravo

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