Located just 50 kilometers south from Managua, Nicaragua, the colonial city of Granada is a popular international tourist destination. Granada, the oldest city in the New World, is the perfect place to set up base camp to explore this beautiful country. One popular day trip is to Isla de Ometepe, a 276- square kilometer island flanked by two volcanoes with virgin forests and white sand beaches in between. Although a four-hour ferry ride from Granada, it can be reached faster by driving south to San Jorge and catching the ferry from there.
How to get there:
From Granada, drive southwest on NIC 4, then south on the Pan American Highway to Rivas. Turn east to San Jorge where you can catch the ferry for the one-hour ride across Lake Nicaragua to Moyogalpa. The trip from Granada to the ferry landing in San Jorge should take about an hour and 15 minutes. Be sure to arrive at least a half hour before your scheduled launch. The ferry schedule is subject to change, but generally runs from 7:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Reservations should be made at least 72 hours in advance (277 5354, 278 8190).
Cascada San Ramon hike:
Located about one-third of the way up the Maderas Vocano sits the breathtaking San Ramon waterfall. This 52-meter tall waterfall cascades into a small refreshing pool where weary hikers can take a break from the heat and humidity of the forest. To reach the trailhead, drive to the Ometepe Biological Field Station just outside the village of San Ramon. From there it is a moderately-difficult hike to the falls, taking between one and two hours, depending on your pace. Debris slides are common on the trails, and can change the landscape dramatically. Be sure to check with local officials before heading out on your own. Along the trail you can expect to see a variety of wildlife, including various reptiles, amphibians and howler monkeys.
Other things to do and see on Ometepe:
- Isla de Ometepe is home to two historic volcanos – Maderas and Concepcion. Exploring both requires specialized knowledge of the area, however, so do not attempt these hikes without a guide.
- The Petroglyphs near Volcan Maderas were carved around 300 A.D. and pay homage to the Nahuatl gods.
- If you are planning to explore the island in your own vehicle, you will need a 4-wheel drive.
- Be sure you have plenty of water and are well protected against mosquitoes.
- There are no banks on Ometepe, so hit the ATM before boarding the ferry in San Jorge.