Volcano Swimming

I did consider filing this one under Granada’s Murder Mountains on account of the fact it’s a fuck off great big lake in the caldera of a volcano but Apoyo hasn’t erupted for over 20000 years which pretty much makes it extinct. Plus we packed up all of our shit, left our lovely air conditioned room at Selina Granada and moved here for two nights so we’re not considering it as part of the Granada adventure. Worth it though even if I did sweat to death the two nights we were there.

We arrived too early for the direct bus to the lake so we had to walk the last 2.6 kilometres. Imagine our joy when we finally made it here.

I swear it’s getting hotter. Like, even when it starts to cool down in the evening the air still clings to you. Sweat beads on my arms, I wipe it away and when I look back it’s there again. Little droplets of moisture oozing from my pores. Fortunately this massive volcanic lake is good for swimming, it’s absolutely the most perfect temperature too. Not so warm that it doesn’t refresh you but not so cold that you match the howler monkeys screech for screech as you ease yourself in.

You obviously can’t fit the whole crater into one frame because it’s fucking massive but the further you swim out into the lake the more obvious it is that you’re swimming in a huge volcanic crater.

The howler monkeys were our soundtrack here. Okay no, on our first afternoon the party of domestic tourists was our soundtrack. You can’t claim Latin Americans don’t know how to have a good time. They even brought their own speaker. We spent the day chilling to their music, swimming in the lake and applying tasty cold motor impairment beverages to our faceholes. Once the day trippers left there were very few people remaining, it was the most peaceful place. Apart from, y’know, the howler monkeys.

They’re very fucking loud for something so small.

On our one full day we got up early and went for a swim in the beautiful, still lake. It’s magical when you have places like this to yourself isn’t it? This must be how the apocalypse would feel just before the protagonists realise the zombies can swim. We dried off in the hammocks before heading to a local comedor for breakfast then we just hung out, listening to the monkeys and watching the birds and squirrels. Then I left Tarrant to her own devices so I could go and not breathe under water for a while.

This absolutely massive chook lives at Comedor Angelito absolutely I swear she was threatening me for my food.

I’ve always wanted to give freediving a go but I didn’t want to commit to a course because I didn’t know if I’d like it or not and quite frankly the thought of holding my breath for that long underwater was utterly fucking terrifying. I’d heard that there was a freediving school at the lake, we had this whole day spare for water related activities, fuck it. I’d have a bash at it then. They do a Try Freediving session which sounded perfect.

Laguna Beach Club

I showed up and was sat down with a very softly spoken Frenchman called Jules who explained some basic biology to me. Like, what actually happens when you breathe, and what actually happens when you hold your breath, and what’s going on with your oxygen levels when you get to the point you’ve held your breath for so long you think you’re going to die. Turns out you’re not going to die at all, that’s just your diaphragm being all dramatic. By this point you’ve only got 5% CO2 in your blood and can definitely hold your breath for longer. The thing you do when you train for freediving is basically getting your body used to a bit more CO2, then a bit more, then a bit more.

Hammock views.

We did some breathing exercises and he said I should take my final breath, hold it, then when my diaphragm starts going batshit crazy I should try and hold my breath for ten seconds longer. Yeah so this is easier said than done but it turns out I can hold my breath for two minutes and 17 seconds whilst I’m lying on a yoga mat and a Frenchman is staring at me. Less so when under the water it seems but this, apparently, is normal.

Guys, this was actually a lot of fun and I really enjoyed it. I’ve not got any photos on account of the fact there’s a metric fuck tonne of stuff to remember and I figured that was more important than documenting it but I managed to go to ten metres on one breath which is pretty good for me considering that breathing is one of my favourite things to do. You have to remember to stay by the rope. There’s a certain way to get under the water and I think he underestimated how much of a buoyant human I am when he gave me my weights. I tried to tell him, I told him how much weight I need for diving but it’s freshwater here. Turns out every cell in my body still wants to be at the surface. So getting under was hard. I found hauling myself down with the rope was a lot easier. The hardest thing was keeping my chin tucked down because I’m dying to know where I’m going and apparently this isn’t what freediving is about.

In case you fancied learning to freedive in the flooded caldera of am extinct volcano.

I definitely want to do more of this I think. I’m not sure I’m bothered about how deep I can go, I just want to be able to hold my breath for longer so I can get my eyeholes closer to cool shit whilst snorkelling. I think my instructor sees it more of a meditative thing but yeah, I want to hold my breath for longer so I can upset more fish with my big, stupid face.

I rejoined Tarrant in the afternoon and we just resumed the hammock related chilling. I’m pretty chuffed we stayed here rather than daytripping it from Granada, it was worth it just for that morning swim. We only did it because we had a couple of days spare but it worked out very, very well.

Jump to “Useful shit to know…”

Laguna De Apoyo, Masaya Department, Nicaragua

Stayed at: Laguna Beach Club, Laguna De Apoyo

Laguna Beach Club. They only had dorm beds left when we booked and whilst the dorm does have fans it’s still stinking hot. There are big lockers though and a decent kitchen with free coffee all day. You have full use of all the sunbeds, chairs, kayaks etc. There’s a bar too selling delicious cold motor impairment beverages. It’s probably a bit expensive for what it is, we paid US$12 each, but a day pass alone is US$6.90 so I guess it includes that.

Useful shit to know…

How To Get From Granada To Laguna De Apoyo By Bus

  • You can jump on a minibus bound for Managua not far from Central Park down Avenida Vega. Aim for coordinates 11.928799, -85.954284.
  • Ask to get down at the entrada de Laguna de Apoyo, around 11.972889, -86.026111.
  • It cost C$20 each and only took about 20 minutes.
  • Walk up the small road that leads to the lake and wait there for a bus.
  • Three buses a day leave from Masaya at 5.30am, 10.30am and 3.30pm. If you time it right you can catch one of these on the way past and be taken right down to the lake.
  • We did not time it right and faced an hour wait, but there are more regular buses which drop you at the rim.
  • One of these showed up at 9.55am so we hopped on that.
  • It cost C$10 each and probably only took about ten minutes.
  • It terminates around 11.946122, -86.046034. Then you’ve got a 2.6 kilometre walk but it’s all downhill. It’s a bit emotional in the heat with all your bags but it’s very doable.
  • Total cost: C$30 (US$0.82) each.
  • Total time: Probably about 90 minutes including time between buses, but we did walk that last bit which took around 45 minutes.

  • Freediving Nicaragua operates close to Laguna Beach Club.
  • You can WhatsApp Thomas on +33 749 355220.
  • They run the full SSI courses too but I opted for the US$60 Try Freediving session.
Laguna Beach Club offers day passes for US$6.90. Paradiso Beach Club is the more popular option and if you’re on an organised day trip from Granada that’s where you’ll go, but LBC is cheaper to stay overnight.

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