I've finally made it to Central America! This trip was such an adventure. Why Nicaragua you ask? Well it turns out Nicaragua is beautiful, full of volcanos to climb and is a pretty affordable place to visit! We toured around the country a lot while we were there and here are the photographs from our adventure.
Day 1: Granada/Volcano Masaya
After landing in Managua (Capitol City) we picked up our rental car. After a bit of trying to get our bearings and being misguided by some pretty terrible directions. We were on our way to Granada. We discovered there was a lack of street signs/street rules in general. People seemed to drive at whichever pace they choose. Granada was beautiful, a little colonial town filled with colorful buildings and - ALL of the churches. When we arrived the first day we explored the city a bit.
That evening we made our way to Masaya Volcano National Park. I'd never thought to visit a national park after dark (aside from camping) but this was an exception. It was here we drove to the top of the volcano and got to look over the edge. We saw LAVA - in real life! It was pretty incredible. I almost felt I was in the Lord of the Rings at the heart of Mount Doom. It was splashing about in the deep and a great cloud of volcanic gas was rising above it. After the volcano and traveling all morning we decided to call it a night. But not before we picked up some local rum for a nightcap ;)
Day 2: Granada/Churches/San Juan Del Sur
The next day it was church on church on church. There was a church every couple of blocks. They were all architecturally unique. In most we were able to climb the bell towers which lead to beautiful aerial views of the city! After a great tour of the churches and the rest of the town it was time to move along on our journey to San Juan Del Sur.
Day 2 (cont.): San Juan Del Sur
After a beautiful hour drive across the Nicaraguan countryside we arrived upon San Juan Del Sur. It is located on the far west side of the country on the Pacific Coast. This little beach/surf town was very charming. Our lodging was right on the beach and our view was incredible. There was a bit of rain expected that evening but the clouds made for a wonderful sunset. We also tried a local restaurant and ordered some fresh fish. Thank goodness we were prepared when it came cooked as is - with its little eyeballs looking up at you!
Day 3: San Juan Del Sur/Mirador del Cristo de la Misericordia/Isla Ometepe
The next morning we started the day with a delicious breakfast complete with home blended mango juice. Then we began our ascend to Mirador del Cristo de la Misericordia. The 'Christ of the Mercy' is located high on northernmost seawall in the bay of San Juan. From this seawall there are amazing views of the west coast of Nicaragua. After San Juan Del Sur our next stop was Ometepe Island. It is located in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. So, we hopped on a shuttle that would take us from San Juan Del Sur to the port at Playa San Jorge. This is where we hopped on a ferry to Ometepe Island. The ferry was a very local affair, Nicaraguans bringing goods and food to the island or just traveling back home. After arriving on the island we took a shuttle to our lodgings that evening.
Day 4: Isla Ometepe/ Maderas Volcano Hike
After a questionable night sleep we woke at 7am to begin our hike up Maderas Volcano (4,573 ft). Our journey to the top was wet, muddy and quite a challenge - but so worth it. We hiked through the jungle and cloud forests. It ended up being a 7 hour hike for us total - up and down. Lets just say the next day we were quite sore!
Day 5: Isla Ometepe/ San Ramon Waterfall
Our sore legs from the Maderas hike didn't deter us from going on our next adventure. We set out the next day to find San Ramon Waterfall and little did we know were setting out on another crazy adventure. We started by renting a scooter (from what seemed like 12yr old). What we didn't know is that the road to the San Ramon Waterfall Trailhead was treacherous at best. Large loose rocks made for a very nerve-wracking ride to the trailhead. Thank goodness for Scott's careful driving we arrived safely. The waterfall is located on the southern slopes Maderas Volcano and the hike was slow (considering we had hiked 7 hours the day before) but it was more than worth it. San Ramon Waterfall was breathtaking at its 197ft and one of the most beautiful I've seen.
Day 5: Isla Ometepe/Zipline/Punta Jesús María
After relocating to better accommodations the next day we decided to take it easy. Instead of hiking up volcanos we decided to zip-line down them instead! After that we decided to get a better view of the volcanos and visit the butterfly garden at Laguna Charco Verde Nature Reserve. Then after relaxing in the hotel hammock for the afternoon and dinner we headed to Punta Jesús María. It is a narrow strip of land that juts out from Ometepe Island into lake Nicaragua. Here we had a great panoramic view of both volcanos that make up the island and an equally amazing sunset... and I have pictures to prove it!
Day 6: Travel to Corn Islands/Little Corn Island
The next morning we woke early and took the ferry back to main land. We hopped on a packed to the brim chicken bus from San Jorge and arrived in Managua (the capital city) for our flight to the Corn Islands (40 miles east off the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua). We were quite surprised to find out we were flying on a 6 person plane, we had to be weighed with baggage before boarding and there was no service announcement before we took off.. the pilot just hopped in (in full view by the way) and we were off. Not even a "fasten your seat belts." Yet another adventure! After about 45 minutes we landed on Big Corn Island. 8 Miles across the ocean was Little Corn Island. To get there we boarded a panga boat and road the final leg of the journey. After arriving we switched pangas and were brought to our treehouse lodgings on the north end of the island. and let me just tell you, this was the definition of paradise.
Day 7: Little Corn Island
The next day we awoke to the most beautiful beaches just a few steps from our treehouse. We spent the day exploring the island wandering down trails and frightening scuttling crabs. We borrowed some snorkeling gear from our airbnb and swam in the ocean. We strung up our kammok and relaxed the day away. Later that evening we decided to sign up for night snorkeling. At sunset some locals picked us up from our treehouse and took us about a mile out into the ocean. By the time we got there it was pitch black outside, which was a little unnerving. After some instruction from our guides (like if we see a shark - not to shine the flashlight in its eyes - YIKES) I was a bit nervous about swimming in the open ocean at night. However, off the boat we went with nothing but our snorkel gear and flashlights.
Day 8: Little Corn Island/Travel Day (Managua)
After our last night stay on the Corn Island we woke up to partially cloudy skies. We swam in the ocean one last time and walked its beaches before the rain hit. Surprisingly, rain included the island was as beautiful as ever. We went from our treehouse to town, had lunch and waited for the first panga back to Big Corn Island. Luckily, the rain held out so we didn't get wet on our boat ride. After arriving back to Big Corn Island we got a local cab back to the airport and from there we boarded our plane back to Managua. After a small pit stop in Bluefields (to randomly drop off some other passengers like some sort of air-taxi) we were back in Managua. After staying in a treehouse for the past two nights we welcomed a stay in a air-conditioned room with a king size bed. We also ordered pizza to our room after a long day of traveling.
Day 9: Traveling Home
After a welcomed night sleep we left for the airport early that morning to travel back to Texas. Our layover was a bit longer than our flight to Nicaragua and when we landed in Houston we were not looking forward to our drive back to Austin. However, we got back and we were welcomed back by a very excited Maxwell. Overall, it was an amazing trip and I would recommend a trip to Nicaragua for anyone that is up for an adventure!
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