Nicaragua Travel

Almost Dying Part 2: Hiking Volcano Maderas on Ometepe Island!


3 min read

#VolcanosVolcanosVolcanos

After our very exciting Volcano Boarding adventure in Leon, Nicaragua, which if you’re reading this, we highly recommend you do before you die (#BROographyApproved) Romain and I made our way to Ometepe, Nicaragua.

For those thinking of traveling to Nicaragua and wanting to experience beautiful breathtaking views, authentic Nicaraguan food, and mud filled adventures, the Island of Ometepe is right for you.

Stuff You Need to Know

Isla Ometepe is culturally known as the “Oasis of Peace” and after spending two nights there I could definitely see how this Island got its name.

Ometepe is isolated from the rest of Nicaragua by Lake Cocibolca, one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world. It has a rich history of indigenous culture dating back to 300 BC. The Island is approximately 107 mi.² long, and filled with beautiful beaches, warm tropical storms, and the soothing sounds of rain and pure natural nature!

Do you need a break from city life? Yeah, my friend – come here!

View of Volcano Concepcion on Ometepe IslandJarelle, How Do I Get Here?

1. First off, getting around Nicaragua, in general, can be challenging to some but highly recommend you rent a car in advance! That’s what Romain and I did and it worked out great.

2. Our other recommendation is to take taxis. Unfortunately, we heard from other tourists that taxis like to take advantage of tourists because they know you don’t know where you’re going. Use Google maps👌

Take the car or taxi to Rivas. Rivas is the main center for buses and taxis.

From there, drive to the Port of San Jorge and you want to take a ferry to Ometepe.

Only costs about $25 one-way if you’re taking your car to the island (which we highly recommend for easy transportation around the island) and $3 for single passengers. Usually, you can show up 1 hour before the departure of the ferry and get a ticket, but it’s not guaranteed. It is recommended to book in advance. To do so, you can call the following numbers:

  • To Moyogalpa: Ferry El Che: Tel.  +505 2563-0665 y +505 8694-1819
    Ferry I y III: Tel.+505 8966-4978
  • To San José: Tel. 8830-9995 o 8691-3669 o 8833-4773 o 2552-8745

You can find the ferry schedules here.

The ride is about an hour or so. We decided to catch up on some sleep in the car.

Arriving in Ometepe

One of my most memorable moments when arriving on the island was not the beautiful scenery or the amazing and unbelievably cheap $4 dollar meals at a local restaurant by the beach. It was Romain being indecisive about what we should do for the day.
View of Volcano Concepcion on Ometepe Island
Volcano Concepcion – a grueling 10-hour return hike!
I, with a nice, calm and friendly voice offered that we should go horseback riding up Volcano Concepcion (pictured above) since we knew we were going to hike up Volcano Maderas the next day.

I explained to him the benefits:

  • It’s cheap, like $20
  • We get to ride a horse
  • Horse does all the work for us
  • We get to rest and be lazy
  • WE GET TO RIDE A HORSE

I knew that Romain had never ridden a horse before in his life so I thought this was a grand opportunity.

I didn’t raise my voice or anything!

Romain, showing early signs of bipolar disorder in his 20s started yelling for no reason! I felt betrayed! I was only trying to help!

I was shocked and utterly appalled at this childish behavior! Luckily, I remembered that we woke up early that day and he forgot to take his medication and it was a full moon. He gets a bit crazy if he doesn’t take his meds on time. So I got the hotel crew together and I explain to them the situation. We found him, shirtless, in a tree, throwing coconuts at us like a madman with mud on his face. We cut the tree down, cornered him, held him down, and gave him his injection. It was insane I tell you. “THANK GOD” I said to the hotel crew and we all gave each other high-fives. Romain’s meds are strong so he slept until dinner time around 8 PM.

This totally happened! Romain will say it didn’t happen🙄 but as I explained in my previous articles anything that Romain says is and will always be FAKE NEWS! He never remembers his episodes! Luckily I’m such a great friend!

😜
If you notice, he doesn’t fully deny that this happened!

MOVING TO SILICON VALLEY!

After Romain calmed down, we had dinner at a local restaurant right by the beach. With no Internet access all day on this remote island, Romain tried to access his emails one last time and, to his surprise, got spectacular news! After one and a half year of trying and after being rejected 12 times by his own company, Romain received an acceptance email from Google HQ in Silicon Valley, California!

Given the fact that I live 15 miles from their headquarters I was ecstatic to know that my best friend is moving pretty much down the street for me! Also made our 8-hour hike the next day more pleasurable and exciting!

High in the clouds of Volcano Maderas

The next day was the big hike and upon further research on our hike up the Maderas volcano, we realize it was going to take about 8 hours and we needed to catch the ferry back to Rivas by 3 PM. We both agreed we would get up at 4 AM, skip breakfast, and do the hike on an empty stomach, like, with no food…

Romain, showing early signs of amnesia in his 20s, clearly forgot that I almost died in Plitvice National Park in Croatia back in June because we forgot food. Either that or he just doesn’t care, is inhumane or has no empathy for my stomach. I vote all 3. Thankfully I bought beef jerky and plenty of protein bars for this hike, so I came prepared.

The most popular trail to hike Volcano Maderas starts in Balgüe (in the north side of the volcano) from the Finca Magdalena and is 4.5 km one way. Other trails start from Santa Cruz and San Ramon in the south of the island. We showed up at Finca Magdalena at 5:30 am and our guide named Elmer was waiting for us.

He was so awesome, extremely helpful and kind! He does the hike all the time so he knows his way up and down the Volcano. Pretty sure he could claim it with his eyes closed.

We only paid $20 for him to guide us and wanted to give him more but we didn’t have any more cash on us, and they don’t take bitcoin!

Anyways, this hike up the Volcano was REAL! I really mean really REAL!  If you want that authentic jungle feeling, that tropical rainforest, that “I’m a part of the food chain feel”! This Volcano hike is for you!

Jarelle Volcano Maderas hike in Ometepe Island

It only took us 6 and a half hours but boy was it worth it! Only 16 minutes into our hike we were hearing monkey and gorilla grunts!
Sounded like they were 10 feet in front of us! This was the first time in my life I was hearing these REAL authentic sounds of nature and territory warnings from my ape ancestors🦍.

But we did not flee! After Romain’s previous episode in the tree, I strongly believe in his primal state he could take on a gorilla or two LMAO!

Muddy, Muddy, Muddy, Muddy………MUDD-AY!

Mind you, we’re hiking up into a cloud forest on the side of a volcano. MUD WAS EVERYWHERE! About 20% of the hike in, we were climbing up literally hands and feet through the mud! It would also rain on and off during the hike which gave this experience a more surreal and authentic feeling. Like “Wow, I’m really in a rainforest! Faraway from my sedentary lifestyle, away from my desk and a laptop! no Starbucks, no iPhone service, no 911!” This was real!
Cloud forest during Volcano Maderas hike in Ometepe Island
This hike was extremely grueling! It was hard for me to make it up to the top and it was harder for Romain to make it back down. Both ways we needed each other to lift our spirits up because that is what brotherhood is for.
Jarelle Volcano Maderas hike in Ometepe Island

Warning ⚠️

This hike is not for you if you have any serious medical conditions, heart problems or fear of heights or the jungle! Please take plenty of food and plenty of water, also wear shoes or boots you do not care about!
Besides pinning Romain to the ground in giving him his injections, this was one of the hardest things I’ve ever physically done in my life! LOL

Reaching the Top

After 3 1/2 grueling hours of nothing but pure incline up a volcano, we reached the top of the cloud forest. I had a burst of excitement, joy, and energy flowing through my veins as demonstrated in this video:

There is a lake at the bottom of the crater, but it was covered in clouds and we did not have the time nor the energy to go down and up to the crest again.

In all seriousness, there were so many times during this trip up the volcano that I wanted to just quit. My mind was telling me you’re cold, you’re hungry, you’re wet, your feet are muddy, you don’t have enough food, you don’t have enough water…. my mind was telling me nothing but excuses to turn back!

But I kept going!

“Sisi” is what my mind experienced. It’s a Finnish word, it means – the mental strength to continue to try even after you feel reached the limits of your abilities.

You hear this cliché all the time but it’s true: the only way to climb a mountain is to put 1 foot in front of the other! This saying is the purest microcosm of life itself. The best part is you get to do it with one of your good friends, that is how bonds get stronger!

Broography Volcano Maderas hike in Ometepe Island

Romain Version… 

Romain stepping in here to finish this story, as Jarelle was so exhausted (or so focused on his GoPro) once we reached the top, that he forgot everything that happened up until he woke up at the beach the following morning (with a butterfly tattooed on his lower back).

The way back down the volcano almost took longer than the way up, but was more pleasant: the rain was gone and the sky had cleared up, so we could get great views like this one:

View of Volcano Concepcion during Volcano Maderas hike on Ometepe Island

Towards the bottom, we met some traveling nurses from California, and Jarelle grilled one of them with questions for a solid hour (since he started dreaming of becoming an international nurse at the start of this trip). So much so that at one point, she exclaimed: “Jeez, I feel like I’m in an interview!”

Back at the start of the trail, next to our car, we found one of our hotel staff on his motorbike waiting for us. Since we had left the hotel at 5 am, we had forgotten to pay (to be fair, we assumed we had paid with Booking.com when we had booked our hotel)!!! Out of cash, we drove around the island looking for an ATM that worked. Once these Nicaraguan dollar bills were exchanged, we rushed to the ferry of San José.

We wished we had more time on the island, as there were more awesome things to do, such as: the Ojos de Agua natural pool, the San Ramon waterfalls (a 4-hour hike on the southern slope of Maderas volcano), and of course, Volcano Concepcion. Highly recommend you spend 1-2 more days on the island and do these!

At the San José dock, we were 1h30 in advance, but they didn’t want to sell us any ferry tickets. We should have booked in advance, they said! So we waited… We went to a rustic “restaurant” next to the ferry dock, where the 12-year-old girl seemed confounded that we wanted to eat… After 10 minutes, she fetched her mum, who took our order of chicken and beef. She must have had to go kill that chicken and that beef because it took an hour for our food to be ready. Luckily, Jarelle found an adorable puppy to play with and pass the time.

Once the ferry was packed with delivery trucks, and 5 minutes before departure, the dock master called me over and showed me a little corner to put our rental car in, but told me to hurry (as other cars were waiting). Our food STILL wasn’t ready, so I drove the car on the boat, then shouted “JARELLLLLE” with all my might (which made Volcano Concepcion erupt a little). But Jarelle was oblivious to my cry, obsessed as he was with the puppy. He finally walked to the boat, as if there was no hurry, with our food in takeaway boxes. All’s Well That Ends Well, off the island we were too new adventures (more relaxing this time).

View of Volcano Concepcion at Ometepe Island ferry

Seriously thank you for reading if you made it this far! Here at BROography, we appreciate all our fans and supporters!

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Nerdwithabs

Welcome to BRO-ography! I am the Co-Creator, Jarelle. A 24-year-old Fitness Entrepreneur in Silicon Valley with a goal to make people healthier. IG @NerdWithAbs, I follow back :) I met my best-friend, co-author, business partner & all around bad ass, Romain, in Brisbane, Australia while studying abroad in college. Since then we have traveled to over 15 countries and 5 continents. We're so narcissistic we decided "Hey, other people could care about our "BRO-Adventures" so "BRO-ography" was born. Romain and I are from 2 different worlds yet, we find harmony in our friendship. My writing style is purely from the heart and soul. I aim to be as authentic as possible for all my readers to enjoy. I think human beings are fascinating, so I will always write through a lens of empathy and compassion to connect with you. I fear the opinion of no man, which this allows me to be open and vulnerable with myself and you all. Please share any and all articles of your choosing & thank you for all the support in advance :)

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