First stop Leon Sunday 29th April to Wednesday 2nd May
We left San Salvador at 3am on the Ticabus - luxury coach with sleeper seats, toilet and a/c. The journey took 7hours 45minutes and took in 2 border crossings in Honduras and Nicaragua, both of which were hassle free except for having my sunglasses stolen.
Arrived in Leon at 10.45am picked up a taxi and checked into Hotel Mariposa. This is a small hotel just on the outskirts of the town. It has small cabanas all centred round a small but very refreshing pool. They also have outside bathrooms, which are very cute.
After settling in and going for a swim we decided we would discover the town of Leon. We caught a local bus, again they use old American school bus, except they have definitely seen better days, with the seats taken out and replaced with plastic garden chairs bolted to the floor - certainly an adventure, but very cheap to use.
Leon is the second largest city in Nicaragua after Managua. It was founded by the Spaniards as León Santiago de los Caballeros and rivals Granada, Nicaragua, in the number of historic Spanish colonial homes and churches including the grand Cathedral of the Assumption, built from 1706 to 1740, with two towers added in 1746 and 1779. In the year 2011, the Cathedral of the Assumption was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also situated in the most volcanic region in Central America.
Monday 30th April
Relaxing morning by the pool as tomorrow we climb a small volcano and go volcano boarding.We went into Leon mid afternoon to have a look round and get soemthing to eat. The heavens opened while we were there and there was a thunderstorm, but like any other hot country it wassoon oer and dry again.
When we reurned to the hotel the thunderstorm continued, it was quite scary as we ae in straw roof cabins with little sunstance and the storm was right overhead.
Tuesday 1st May
This is Labour Day in Central America and as such a public holiday.
We booked to go Volcano boardingr with Quetzal trekkers, a nonprofit making toue company. What profit they do make goes to children's projects in the area. The journey took about an hour to get to Cerro Negro(Black Hill), it is a live volcano but a very young one for Central America it first erupted in and since then has had three very large eruptions and you can see the three eeruption sites(cones) It erupts every 4-8 years but the last eruption was 13 years ago so it is well over due.
We climber to the top which took about an hour and half with little stops on the way to hear soem of the history and quirky stories. Then it was all down hill. We had to put some funky lime green suits on for protection along with goggles and gloves - see the photos for a laugh. Then sit on the sledge and away you go. Andy went first, he got about half way and then stopped and had to push start himself. I brought up the rear and had great difficuty, for some reason my sledge/board wnated to bury itself all the time so I was constantly stopping to dig myself out. I managed the last part at speed.
2nd time around I opted out and spent some time chilling in a hammock. Andy chose to continue this time without boards and running down. He siad it was very tiring and painful - not exactly his words as you can imagine but I can't write what he said. The group rejoined me and we had luch before returning to Leon to recieve our you survived T-shirts.
Check out the video and this link on youtube to see views of the volocano.
Baxk to the hotel for a well earned shower and swim. We had dinner at the hotel, simple cooking but very good and fairly reasonable.
Wednesday 2nd May
Travel to Isla Ometepe.
The journey started at 9am with a taxi ride to the Leon's bus terminal, prepare to stand in a long queue for the bus to Managua (the capital city) We caught an Expresso bus for comfort and speed they are a minibus which only stops at destination. The journey takes 1 and half hours and costs 90 Cordovas
On arrival at Managua we have to get a taxi to the other side of the city to another bus station, there was some hassle and competition between taxi drivers but nothing we weren't prepared for.
Next step of the journey Managua to Rivas, this time on a chicken bus, which got very full and made many stops. The journey was not too bad though it took 2 hours and cost 100 Cordovas.
Then a Taxi from Rivas to San Jorge to catch the ferry to Isla Ometepe. The Ferry takes an hour and cost 70 Cordovas each. Once on the island we catch a bus to Altagracia, the second biggest town on the opposite side of the volcano to the port. This took about and hour and cost 36 Cordovas. Finally arriving at out destination at 5pm.
There was some discrepancy with the hotel we booked into so Andy took a little look around and found us a nice new one called Hotel Kechno with an upstairs double room with private facilities, a/c, TV and wifi all for $10 each per night. It was the a/c that clinched the deal. We also have views of the Volcano, Conception. Settled in and went for dinner at restaurant across the road.
Thursday 3rd May
Relaxing morning, always a good idea after a full days travel. We went into the main square for breakfast and a little people watching.
We got talking to couple of other guests Matt from Australia and Jimmy for New Zealand. They told us about some fresh water pools called Oja de Aqua, about 5km away they are worth checking out. So that was the plan for the afternoon, we hired a taxi for the journey there and back. The pools are fed by a natural spring (maybe from the volcano) and have been dammed up to offer people a very pleasant place to swim for the afternoon. It cost $2 each to get in. The water is very clean and clear and of course a little on the chilly side, but that is great when it is so hot. Matt and Jimmy were there so we got talking. They would like to visit the waterfalls and so would we so we agreed to talk to our taxi driver and maybe split the cost.
Back to the hotel for showers and dinner. Whilst sitting having a drink who should we see in the road passing our hotel but Ali & Luke the young American couple we had travelled to El Salvador with. They had just arrived on the island and were looking for somewhere to eat. They joined us. Andy had an amazing Chicken soup, cooked fresh with vegetables and accompanied by rice and salad. I had penne pasta with fresh vegetables, a welcome change from chicken rice and beans.
We told Ali & Luke about the waterfalls and they too would like to join us.
Great to chat and catch up with other peoples travels.
Friday 4th May
Trip to San Ramon and the waterfalls, these are on the other volcano on the island and takes about 1 hour and half to get there as the roads are bad. The taxi will take us and bring back and wait while we climb up all for the cost of $40 - not bad split between 6 of us.
We started our trip at 9.30am, the driver was not wrong when he said the roads were not good in fact I would go as far to say that the road was no existent. It is a bumpy track and I would hate to do it in the riny season. A 4x4 is the only way to do it. The road goes between the two volcanoes so gives some great views. Once we arrived at San Ramon there is a 3km or an hours trek up the volcano to the water falls. Not bad you think but it is very steep, rocky and extremely hot. It was a tough climb for all participants but well worth it when you get to the water falls at the top. They are fed directly by the lagoon in the crater of the volcano and are very picturesque. Not much of a pool to swim in but a paddle and a shower under the water was a welcome cool off. Then the trek back down, which was much easier. We arrived back at the hotel about 4ish all knackered and ready for something to eat.
Dinner at the hotel again as it was good food and easy, then to bed another long day of travelling tomorrow.
Next Stop Playa Del Coco, Costa Rica.