Nicaraguan sweet sea

Some visitors who been there reckon it should be declared as the eighth natural wonder of the world.  There is no doubt that Lago de Nicaragua (Lake Nicaragua) certainly deserves its description as the `sweet sea’.

The reason why some think it should be the eighth natural wonder is not so much for the lake itself, but for the combination of the lake and the island it surrounds, Isla de Ometepe, which just happens to be the world’s largest lake island.

Even so, being large doesn’t necessarily make you wonderful.  The Isla de Ometepe is somewhat special, you see it has two magnificent volcanic peaks rising from it and one of them, Volcan Concepcion, with its perfectly symmetrical sides, is considered to be Central America’s prettiest volcano.

Concepcion’s loveliness seems to hide the fact that is it also one of Central America’s most active, and most dangerous, volcanoes.   In fact, the rivers of red hot lava that can flow from Concepcion were responsible for its traditional Indian name of Mestlitepe, the Menstruating Mountain.

The Isla de Ometepe forms and almost perfect figure eight shape, and is surrounded by delightful beaches which border a lush, tropical rain forest.

You can reach the Isla de Ometepe by ferry from either San Jorge, Granada or San Carlos.  The town of San Jorge is only an hour from the island by ferry, with ferries to Granada and San Carlos taking four and nine hours respectively.

It is possible to climb Volcan Concepcion, but it is a difficult climb which takes about 12 hours.  Because the summit is often cloudy, and always cold, the view you get from the summit may not be worth the effort.  An easier climb is up Volcan Maderas, the smaller of the two volcanoes, which only involves a 7-8 hour climb on slopes that are less perilous than those of its near neighbour.

There are several towns on the island, with the two most populous being Moyogalpa and Altagracia.  The main ferry terminal is at Moyogalpa, and this is where you will find the bulk of the hotels, although there is accommodation all over the island, depending on which standard you prefer.    

Moyogalpa is also where you will find that most of the tour operators are based.  Fortunately there are buses that can take you all over the island, which has only one paved road and many dirt roads.

Swimming and kayaking on the lake are popular activities, but the water in the lake does rise and fall with the seasons, being at its fullest during the wet season, and dropping to give you more beach in the dry season.

One of the most popular places to visit is the San Ramon Waterfall, which has a spectacular 40 metre drop.  Unfortunately, there is a bit of a hike to reach the waterfall, but the effort is well worth it.

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