Visiting Ometepe on Two Wheels
Visiting Ometepe by bike was suggested to us by El Indio Viejo, the owner of the hostel where we stayed. The 25 kilometer bicycle ride took us to Chaco Verde and back for a beautiful sunset on the back of the whale at Punta Jesus Maria. A few days later and with our rental motorbike, we went across to Finca Magdalena with a necessary swim stop at Ojo del Agua and a visit to the totems of Altagracia.
A Bumpy Ride
As we discovered the night of our arrival on Ometepe when we took a taxi from Altagracia to Moyogalpa, the roads of Ometepe have a feel of post-nuclear warfare. As is so often the case in Central America, if the natural erosion is not enough to pop a tire, you should find many a speed bump on your way to terminally annihilate your vehicle. Asphalt seems to be a most recent addition in many places. Apparently, the 5 kilometers stretching across the island ´s isthmus separating the two volcanoes were paved last year, slashing the bus ride to Balgue by a full hour. If you have no major risk of epilepsy, take the stretch pass Santa Cruz and let me know how it feels on your vertebrae…
Biking across Ometepe
Luckily, bikes and motorbikes fare much better on these roads than chicken buses do (we tried them all). As an added bonus, the Nicaraguan heat definitely keeps your pedaling slow enough to allow you to enjoy all the little marvels of the life alongside the road: school children rehearsing for the week long national holiday, machetes and rakes in hand, farmers posted on the grass nearby a pile of round watermelons or guiding their cows from one field to the next. We zigzag our way pass Esquipuí±as, Los Angeles and San Jose del Sur to arrive at the lakeside resort of Chaco Verde.
Chaco Verde ´s Wild Peninsula
A little cerveza cools us down and a bite to eat replenishes our reserves. Don ´t expect much from the restaurant, but it ´s enough to qualm your appetite. Jess had been calling for some beach time for a while so fully prepared, we jump in the lake and wither the hottest hours of the day away.
But sleep doesn ´t come and ever since I caught a glimpse of the entrance to a path, curiosity is torturing me. It doesn ´t take long before I shake Jess out of her blissful torpor and she, in good grace as usual, succumbs to my fancy. The path is little frequented. We almost turn around when the lake waters cut through it all but I tempt the crossing and all goes well. Through the next hour, Jess and I find ourselves immersed in a pristine forest which only belongs to howler monkeys and cormorants. This is clearly their territory and we walk in awe, mouth agape, careful not to trespass their territory.
Touring Ometepe a Motorbike
Touring Ometepe on a motorbike is not at all the same experience. The speed and the helmet shelter us from the slow moving details, however, we ´re able to cross much wider distances and bridge the gap between the two volcanoes within the hour. The path does not get any easier though, which is why I recommend you go with the dirt-bike model if you are able to. I grew up with bikes but I don ´t own one at the moment so I drove extremely carefully and slow on all these roads, particularly so since Jess was riding behind me. Around Balgue, you definitely need to navigate dirt roads peppered with rocks. If that does not deter you, ride on as we had a fantastic time that way. We went all the way to prepare for our stay at Finca Madgadalena and made reservations.
Ojo del Agua and Santo Domingo Beaches
After you bifurcate towards Madeira, among the plantations, you will find a street on the right side guiding you towards the opalescent waters of Ojo del Agua. This is a most refreshing stop in Ometepe and a site of much mystical significance. We brought along our swimsuits and enjoyed some coco juice by this natural pool side. We much preferred swimming there than in the waters by Santo Domingo beaches which are more propitious towards a cold refreshment.