Saturday, June 11, 2016


Another thing that was on my must see list while I am in Nicaragua was seeing Ometepe Island.  It's a volcanically formed island in the middle of Lake Cocibolca (Lake Nicaragua).  It's made up of one active volcano (the larger one of the left named La Concepción) and one dormant volcano (on the right named Maderas).  It is a stunning island that you HAVE to see!!!  Definitely one of my favorite things I've done here.  When you get there, just drive around the island...the views and the constant presence of La Concepción is breathtaking.

The view from the ferry approaching the island

Close-up of La Concepción.  She's obviously active but truly the most beautiful volcano I've ever laid eyes on
To get to the island you can either take a ferry from San Jorge, Rivas, or a plane from Managua that leaves twice a week.  My parents were visiting and we took our rental car on the ferry.  Basically, you drive the PanAmerican Hwy to Rivas and you'll see a roundabout with signs to the ferry.  Just keep following the signs and you'll get there in 10-15 more minutes by car.  It was a bit confusing booking the car on the ferry.  DEFINITELY do this in advance and pay roundtrip.  If you have no reservation for the car, YOU WON'T GET ON THE FERRY, and there's only a few ferries per day with room for maybe 9 cars on each one.  Will you think the ferry will sink as you drive onto it?  Absolutely.

Here's another piece of gold...instead of calling each ferry company individually trying to see if room is available, call Arnoldo at #+505 8966 4981.  He'll do the reservation for you with any company for the same price as calling them directly.  Roundtrip with a car is $50.

We stayed at Hefziba Bed & Breakfast in Moyogalpa, and I'm not exaggerating when I say it's the nicest hotel I've EVER stayed at in Nicaragua!!  For about $60/night you get a.c., coffee maker in room, hammocks everywhere, paradise-like gardens, free breakfast, refillable filtered water, and the nicest staff you could ever find.

My favorite activity we did was go walking through Charco Verde.  It's a nature reserve on the island that's maybe $2 to enter.  There are various trails to take depending on the time you want to spend.  It's a great example of tropical flora and fauna, is CHOCK FULL of howler monkeys, and has beautiful views of the lake and the volcanos.
My parents at Charco Verde

Howler can something so small be so loud?!  A across between a pig squeal and a dog bark

Butterfly reserve directly next to Charco Verde.  Very peaceful inside.
 We also visited the famous Ojo de Agua.  It's a natural spring in the middle of the island with crystal clear waters.  It's pretty packed but has bathrooms, changing areas, and places to order food and drink.  You can get a coco loco for about $1 for just the coconut water or $2 if you mix that water with condensed milk and rum!

And I just have to add, this very unnoticeable restaurant near the docks was one of the nicest Nicaraguan food restaurants I've ever eaten at.  They serve a lot of very authentic food that you'd normally only find in homes like sopa de frijoles (bean soup).  We all three loved what we ordered, easy on the budget, and no tummy problems afterwards.

Saturday, June 4, 2016


One of the tourist activities I've always wanted to do here has been to watch sea turtle nesting and hatching.  I really love animals, so this has always seemed like a dream to me.  Well, I met some Spanish sisters who were serving in Masatepe for a time and thought, "perfect timing!  They'll want to sight see so it's a good excuse to finally go."  

So the sea turtle season is from July to December, and we went in November.  If you go to this site, there's a lot of useful information about how to get to Playa La Flor, cost of entrance, and general guidelines.  It even has a link to contact the Agricultural Dept of Nicaragua.

Now, I rented a hotel for the weekend, rented a car, planned a trip to La Flor which is about 19km from San Juan del Sur and you have to drive a very isolated, poorly maintained road at 9pm because they only nest at night; so I wanted all of this to go off without a hitch.  So I called the office confirming the dates the turtles were expected (based on moon cycles) and that I definitely was talking to the La Flor office.  Yes, yes, the woman told me.  But, I should've known better.  This IS Nicaragua after all and nothing ever goes as planned.
So the five of us make this long trip and arrive ready to see hundreds of mothers nesting at La Flor.  As soon as we arrive, a park employee meets us and says, "so sad you came tonight.  If you had come two nights ago you would have seen hundreds, but this batch is over so tonight we'll maybe get one or two."  What?!  I told him I specifically called to ensure this wouldn't happen.  Turns out they don't even have a phone out there and I was speaking to the Managua office three hours away. Grrrrrr.

Now I'll share some gold with you.  If you are planning this trip, call the park employee's phone number during the range of dates the Managua office will give you.  Call each morning and they can tell you if turtles have been sighted or not.  Then book it down to La Flor.  The ph#+505 8896 3750.
So we combed the beach anyway and only came across some prints in the sand indicating a sea turtle came on land, decided she really didn't like it, and immediately turned around and went back out to sea.

The only bonus is that the day after we spent a beautiful time at Playa Marsella and got to relax after a MAJOR letdown.