Nicaragua, another great destination.

Published: February 15th 2013
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As we mentioned in our last blog, we took a bus to Nicaragua last Tuesday. After a few hours we reached the border and it took 3 hours to cross it... First we got out of the bus to let our passport stamp by the Costa Rican officials. After everybody was back on the bus, the driver came to collect our passports and some money (without further explanation, so some of us got worried after a while...). A kilometer further we had to get out of the bus again and collect our luggage. It was a chaotic place, people selling all kind of stuff, offering to change money or trying to carry your luggage to earn something. And in between all this there were some long tables where you had to put your luggage, waiting for some official (although he really didn't look like official) to check it. When he came to us, he just said that it was alright, so nothing got checked. After that the driver came back with our passports (luckily!) stamped by the Nicaraguan officials. After all this we drove for one more hour and then got out of the bus in Rivas. From there we took a boat to Isla de Ometepe (Ometepe island), an island in the enormous lake Nicaragua which exists of 'not much more' than two volcanos, an active one and an inactive one. We took a taxi to a small village, many hostels appeared to be full, but we found a room in garden with comfortable hammocks. In the night we sometimes woke up because a mango fell out of a tree, on our roof, making a hard noise, or because of the howler monkeys. But: we love the nature here!
On Wednesday we relaxed a bit and took a bicycle to Ojo de Agua (a volcanic spring with healthy water) where we relaxed a bit more ;-) Just a little bit more uphill we had a great view of volcano Conception, the active one. On the way back (surrounded by monkeys) we passed a beach and wanted to take swim in the lake, but the beach turned out to be full of insects (like small mosquitoes, but not biting). We've never seen something like that, once you step in the sand, your legs were black of the insects... so we ran away!
On Thursday we woke up early to climb volcano Maderas, the inactive one. It was a long, steep, rocky and very muddy climb. Behind the top (1394m) there was a crater lake. Unfortunately it was very misty, so not a good view.

The next day we went to Granada, known as the most romantic city of Nicaragua. It's an old colonial city with lots of nice buildings, mostly with a garden inside. From there we did a boat trip on the Nicaragua lake to see Las Isletas, small islands. There are some that belong to very rich people (Calvin Klein, the owner of the biggest beer company in Nicaragua,...), but on others are still local people living. It was a relaxing and interesting trip with nice views (volcan Mombacho at sunset).
Another trip from Granada was to Laguna de Apoyo, a big blue crater lake of an old extinct volcano. We relaxed there, swimming, kanoeing,... And the water is believed to have healing properties, so our skin is very healthy now ;-)
Then we left Granada to go to Masaya. Not an interesting city, but that didn't matter because we went there for two other reasons: the famous handicraft market where we bought some souvenirs and Volcan Masaya. This volcano was really spectacular. It is an active volcano, the last explosion was last April, rocks were thrown out up to 400m around. Luckily it happened half an hour before the park was open to public... But anyway, it is possible to go to the edge of the crater (at your own risk). We went there around 12, planning to do some hiking and afterwards a "night tour". Most people go there just for the night tour, or to drive up to the crater and go back after half an hour, so the park rangers were a bit surprised and confused about our plans. But we didn't regret it: we had a nice guided walk with amazing views of the surroundings and we saw smoking "fumaroles", holes in the ground, steaming and very hot because of the lava about 700m below. After that we went up to the crater: lots of smoke is coming out, very smelly and uncomfortable, and every know and then we heard some kind of thunder coming out... A little bit more up we had great views of the whole crater. Then we joined the night tour with first some other amazing sunset views from a different angle, then a visit to a cave and another cave-exit where thousands of bats were coming out ( it was getting dark so they went out for food) and last but not least: another view into the crater where we could now see the glow of the lava beneath. Impressive!
Now we are in Esteli, where we hope to have more nice experiences, stories and pictures will follow later.

See more pictures below!

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15th February 2013

Hoi, mooie en bijzonder zo'n vulkaan! Wauw, mooie foto's ook! Bedankt voor jullie mooie kaart uit Costa Rica. Die is gisteren op Valentijnsdag aangekomen, dus dank voor de goede timing! :-) <3 Die leguanen op de kaart zijn echt heel leuk, dus jammer dat jullie er niet eentje kunnen meenemen ;-) Geniet van jullie laatste weekjes! Have fun! XXX
18th February 2013

This was great. My daughter's doing a report and this has been very helpful.Makes me want to visit.

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