The journey across the island was an emotional one, at least the bus from Balgüe to Altagracia was. By the time it rolled through the village it was jam packed, it was human Tetris. They’d even managed to squeeze a whole arse dirt bike on there. Tarrant stared at the carnage in horror as the ayudante, the assistant on the bus, stacked our bags and we perched on the steps by the open door which, at this point, physically couldn’t shut. Fortunately the bike was removed a few stops later which meant we could actually be inside the bus, though a small child was sat on my foot for the rest of the journey and Tarrant was being repeatedly jabbed right in the butt crack by someone else’s bored crotch goblin. Fortunately we got a seat on the second bus and nod-slept our way to Moyogalpa.
I like Moyogalpa though, it’s got a nice vibe and plenty of comedores flogging filling Nica food for C$100. We fell into one such place whilst we were killing time until we could check in, it had a chook scratching around the place followed by her nuggets. That was cute. Our guesthouse is nice too, we pretty much spent the rest of the afternoon sprawled in the hammocks in the garden, digesting the obnoxious quantities of rice and beans we’d just consumed. I’m enjoying the huge lunches but you do need to work a minor food coma into your afternoon schedule.
We only had one full day left so we rented another scooter which was way better than the last one. I didn’t even realise how fucking terrible the last one was until we were gliding around Volcán Concepción on this beauty. The fucking speedo worked for a start and it was bigger, more comfortable, and had no issues getting us up any manner of hill. The one we rented on the other side of the island had trouble getting my lard arse up an incline, never mind two fully grown humans. I’m surprised Tarrant never had to get off and push.
We had three stops lined up for today so we didn’t have to rush anything. We started off at Charco Verde which literally translates as “green puddle”. Bit mean there really though I guess most lakes look like a puddle when they’re stuck next to Lake Nicaragua, it’s so bastard huge I keep forgetting it’s not the actual ocean. We got there earlyish because we figured there’d be more chance of seeing wildlife before the masses showed up playing music on their phones on their way to the small beach. I mean, you’re not going to see Costa Rica levels of wildlife but I love seeing any fauna that isn’t a seagull mugging me for my chips.
The majority of the wildlife in this case were these birds called white throated magpie jays and I adore them. They’re ubiquitous, you see them all over the island but you can never quite get a decent photo of them. They land in front of you but they’re gone again before you’ve even managed to activate the synapses responsible for grabbing your camera, usually to a higher branch so they can yell at you from a distance.
That was the theme of our stroll; verbal abuse from a very pretty avian with a crest on its head and an attitude problem. We also saw a couple of turkey vultures with their red heads and a few howler monkeys which is something we’re never going to get bored of. Another Charco Verde staple is photographing the two volcanos every chance you get. It’s basically the law, any gap through the trees warrants a quick snap or seven. We also watched three turtles chasing a mango around the lake, every time one of them got their chops to it it would obviously bob away. It entertained us for ages. Who needs Netflix?
There’s a butterfly farm here too which is included in your entrance fee so we popped into that before heading to our second stop of the day; Ojo de Agua. Literally “eye of the water”. They know what they have, it’s not some manner of quaint little water hole, they have a restaurant, a snack bar, changing rooms and a bloke greeting you as you park up your scooter. It’s a big, commercial enterprise which has created local jobs and it’s an incredibly enjoyable way to spend a few hours. We’d already intended to have lunch there so we were chuffed when we found out that half of our US$10 entrance fee could be redeemed against food. Then we saw the prices on the menu and wept gently into our buffalo chicken wings.
The water though, now that’s perfect. It’s full of lovely volcanic minerals which are apparently really good for your skin but I give exactly zero fucks about that. It’s that refreshing temperature you want it to be when you’ve been sweating buckets all morning. Just because it’s volcanic it doesn’t mean it’s hot, it still made Tarrant make involuntary monkey noises as she eased herself in, but it was gorgeous. We frolicked before lunch. We frolicked after lunch. We frolicked to our hearts’ content before getting dry and changed and heading to our last stop; Punta Jesús María.
It’s THE sunset spot on the island, the one you kind of have to do because if you don’t did you even go to Ometepe? We got there way too early though, I’d read there were little bars so we figured we’d hang out at one of them for a beer/juice (delete as per driving responsibilities) but all there was was a small stall flogging souvenirs where we impulse purchased a little painting because I’m a sucker for local artwork. You could also buy coconuts but apart from that there was fuck all. We just hung out on the benches supposedly reserved for patrons of the very closed Linda Vista restaurant until the fiery skyball decided to fuck off.
You do get an absolutely cracking view of Volcán Concepción from the beach too, it’s an absolute stunner when it’s clear. We also bumped into a British couple that we’d been running into since Panama so we agreed to meet up for a drink that evening which was absolutely lovely but try telling my poor liver that. Nicaragua apparently produces some of the best rum in the world in the form of Flor De Caña so that’s what we applied liberally to our faceholes at a resto bar in Moyogalpa. The boat back to the mainland tomorrow was going to be fun.
Jump to “Useful shit to know…”
Ometepe, Rivas Department, Nicaragua
Stayed at: Casa De Gio, Moyogalpa
Useful shit to know…
How To Get From Balgüe To Moyogalpa By Bus
- There are two direct buses a day from Balgüe to Moyogalpa at 5.30am and 1.30pm.
- Outside of these hours you need to catch two buses.
- Bus schedules on Ometepe are fluid. The timetable I had said the bus left at 8am. Our hostel owner said it was 8.30am. It arrived at 8.50am, absolutely packed. It was human Tetris. Someone had even managed to get a dirt bike on there.
- It cost C$22 each.
- It took 40 minutes to get to El Espino where half the people got off to change for Moyogalpa which is the done thing but we decided to go all the way to Altagracia. We thought there’d be more chance of getting a seat, plus if we had to wait a while Altagracia has places to get food and drink.
- It took a further ten minutes.
- The bus will drop you at the plaza and this is where you can pick up your next bus.
- One showed up immediately. It was empty and we got a seat.
- It cost C$22 each and took an hour.
- Total cost: C$44 (US$1.20) each.
- Total time: 1 hour 50 minutes.
- We rented the scooter through the hostel and they recommended Green Expeditions.
- I second this recommendation. The scooter was in excellent condition and was a joy to ride.
- It cost C$660 and had to be returned by 6.30pm.
- The main road north of the volcano is unsealed and poor quality.
- All the main roads we took today were sealed.
- The side roads were unsealed but good quality.
- It cost C$180 each to get into Charco Verde but this includes the Butterfly Paradise.
- It cost C$365 each to get into Ojo De Agua which is about US$10.
- US$5 of this is consumable at the restaurant or snack bar.
- There’s a 1.75km trail you can do which costs an extra US$2 but we didn’t do it.
- There are lockers but you need to bring your own padlock.
- All prices at the restaurant and snack bar are quoted in dollars and are very expensive. You’re looking at nearly US$10 for typical Nica food which you can get for C$100 in town.
- If you want to climb either volcano a guide is compulsory. Two sets of friends of ours climbed Concepción and on both occasions the guide abandoned them to climb with faster people so perhaps don’t expect to get what you pay for. One couple had to ask other guides for directions. Both couples said it was a very difficult climb.