Located in Central America between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Nicaragua offers a shifting landscape of volcanoes, lakes and rivers teeming with wildlife, and a wealth of historic and archaeological sites.
Visit Ometepe Island and you will find all of these attractions. Ometepe is the biggest island in Lake Nicaragua in the south-west of the country and is made up of two volcanoes – one active and one extinct – joined by a narrow strip of land.
This is a truly remarkable and intriguing place, with plenty of activities whatever your fitness level or interests. The volcanoes are, of course, the island’s dominant feature. The northerly volcano, Volcán Concepción, is active, while its southerly neighbour, Volcán Maderas, is extinct. Both are a majestic sight. It’s possible to climb both Maderas and Concepción, or hike around their bases, taking in their impressive height and splendour.
Kayaking through Rio Istián which runs through the central part of the island is a must-do for wildlife lovers. The riverbanks are home to a plethora of wildlife – look out for caiman, iguanas, turtles, monkeys, colourful bird species and even jumping spiders.
Traces of thriving early communities can be seen in the petroglyphs (prehistoric rock carving), statues and pottery you will find throughout the island, some dating back as early as 1,000 BC. In fact, Ometepe has one of the most significant collections of rock art in the world, typified by designs of circles and spirals or local wildlife. At San Silvestre, near the town of Altagracia, you can see four stone idols, or catch more of this intriguing art in the town’s museum.
Ometepe is serviced by its main towns of Altagracia and Moyogalpa, on the western side of Concepción, the arrival point for ferries from San Jorge on the mainland. Moyogalpa is an excellent base for exploring the island. You will find a range of small hotels and hostels here, as well as tour operators and facilities for hiring bicycles and motorcycles. Punta Jesús María, a spit of sand offering stunning views of the islands and its volcanoes and relaxed swimming conditions, is easily accessible from the town.
A trip to Ometepe offers the traveller a unique experience packed with colour, beauty and diversity. Here, on this spectacular island, you are sure to find all of the charms Nicaragua is famous for in a vibrant, ever-changing setting.