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Nicaragua eNewsletter May 2014
 
     
 
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Ometepe Island, Nicaragua’s UNESCO Biosphere Reserve

OmetepeNicaragua’s enchanting Ometepe Island is recognized as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve due to its rich environment and wildlife, as well as its historical and archeological importance. Located in Lake Nicaragua, the largest lake in Central America, Ometepe is composed of two volcanoes, Concepción and Maderas, which are connected by a narrow isthmus. Visitors to Ometepe can easily spend a day or more enjoying a variety of activities from exploring the island’s natural reserves and forest and relaxing on its beaches to fishing, bird watching, horse-back riding and learning about Ometepe’s pre-Columbian past. Hikers can attempt to climb both volcanoes – one of which is dormant and the other active – but it is highly recommended that they go with an experienced guide.

One Island, Two Volcanoes


OmetepeConcepción, the larger of Ometepe’s two volcanoes, forms an almost perfect conical shape at its peak and is the second tallest in Nicaragua, at 5,282 feet. An active volcano, since 1880 Concepción has erupted sporadically, but with no major damage. A hike up Concepción is rigorous, requiring 10 hours or more, but highly rewarding. The trail takes travelers through farmland and tropical forests, where howler monkeys line the treetops, then over rocks and volcanic debris at the higher altitudes. The summit of Concepción becomes steep, but the payoff is a panoramic 360-degree view all the way to the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua in the west, and to its Caribbean Coast in the east.

At 4,573 feet, Maderas Volcano is not as high as Concepción and it is dormant. It is covered in cloud forest that features thick tropical vegetation alive with birds, monkeys and other animals. Hikers can climb Maderas in eight hours if the weather is clear. The payoff of the hike up Maderas is a swimmable lagoon in the volcano’s crater. The water can be chilly, but a swim in its clear waters offers a refreshment and revitalization after the trek.

Towns and Activities


OmetepeOmetepe has a few small towns where ancient traditions have been kept alive. The town of Altagracia offers numerous examples of local pre-Columbian ceramics, statues and petroglyphs, which are on display at the Museum of Ometepe. Altagracia also has a central park with a historic church and a wooden bell tower.

Visitors interested in exploring the nature of Ometepe without the strenuous hiking can head to Charco Verde Reserve, an area that has avoided development and remains relatively wild. Your clients can enjoy kayaking, horseback riding, or a day at the beach by the green lagoon. Small cabanas for lodging cost only $20-30 USD a night.

On the narrow isthmus that connects Concepción and Maderas volcanoes is Playa Santo Domingo. The stretch of beach is just over two miles long and is perfect for swimming. From the beach, travelers can hike the mile-long forest trail of Peña Inculta to see birds and monkeys.

Playa Santo Domingo is home to Ometepe’s most comfortable accommodations including:

  • OmetepeHotel Villa Paraiso – Hotel Villa Paraiso features private cabins that overlook the beach and an eager staff waiting to welcome guests

  • Hotel Finca Santo Domingo – This inn’s family cabins hold up to seven people. In addition to renting horses, guests can milk the cows that live at the farm on property.

  • Casa Hotel Istiam – This hotel features views of both volcanoes and family rooms that sleep up to five people. Horse rentals and guided tours are also available at the hotel.

Other welcoming accommodations on Ometepe Island include:

  • OmetepeTotoco Eco-Lodge – This eco-lodge is located in the hills at the gateway to Maderas Volcano’s cloud forest. The property includes a swimming pool, an organic farm and a shade-grown coffee plantation.

  • Charco Verde – This ecological reserve, hotel and restaurant is set among tropical forest. It has great views of Lake Nicaragua and the volcanoes Concepción and Maderas.

  • Hotel Hacienda Merida Hotel Hacienda Merida features spacious rooms with views of Lake Nicaragua. Guests have the option of booking one of many activities including sailing, horseback riding, fishing, kayaking and mountain biking.

  • Hotel Finca del Sol Hotel Finca del Sol is a comfortable lodge a few minutes from the trail leading up Maderas Volcano. The hotel can provide a hiking guide, motorbike rentals and tours of their coffee farm.

Getting to Ometepe


Visitors to Ometepe now have a new option to get to this enchanted island. Starting on May 29, visitors can book seats to Ometepe from Nicaragua’s international airport in Managua. La Costeña, Nicaragua’s national airline, will fly round-trip to Ometepe on Thursdays and Sundays from Managua's international airport, which is just 82 miles northwest. The government of Nicaragua invested more than $10 million in the construction of the Ometepe Airport in response to growing tourist demand. Thirty percent of Central American visitors and 70 percent of North American and European travelers include Ometepe in their itinerary while visiting Nicaragua.

OmetepeVisitors can also take the current route to Ometepe, via ferry boat from San Jorge near Rivas, not far from the beach town of San Juan del Sur. The trip is an hour long. The ferry runs every day, several times a day. The cost is approximately $2-3 USD. A ferry also runs from Granada to Ometepe but only on Mondays and Thursdays, once a day.

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Here are a few excellent travel packages that incorporate Ometepe Island in their itinerary:



Travel Packages

Travel Packages

Travel Packages

Travel Packages

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Journeys International “Three Gems of Nicaragua” 9-day Package: Volcanoes, beaches, light exploration

  • Colonial Granada and Pueblos Blancos
  • Las Isletas
  • Ometepe Island: Finca Magdalena, Charco Verde Reserve, Santo Domingo Beach
  • Masaya Volcano
  • San Juan del Sur
  • Jicaro Island Eco-Lodge, Totoco Eco-Lodge and Morgan’s Rock eco-lodge

G Adventures “Volcano Trail” 17-day Package: Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua (5 of the 17 days)

  • León
  • Colonial Granada, Masaya Volcano, Lake Nicaragua
  • Ometepe Island

Mayatour “Nicaragua Classic” 8-day Package: Colonial towns, volcanoes and lakes

  • Masaya Volcano
  • Mombacho Volcano
  • Ometepe Island: Numismatic Museum, Finca Magdalena, island tour
  • San Juan del Sur
  • León

General Tours “Treasures of Nicaragua” 8-day Package: Volcanoes, beach, exploration

  • Ometepe Island: Maderas Volcano, Ometepe Museum, Charco Verde Reserve
  • Colonial Granada
  • Mombacho Volcano
  • Masaya Volcano
  • Juan Venado Nature Reserve

Green Spot Travel “Culture & Green in Nicaragua” 8-day Package: Volcanoes, beach, exploring

  • León
  • Masaya Volcano
  • Colonial Granada
  • Ometepe Island: Maderas Volcano, Ometepe Museum and Charco Verde Reserve
  • San Juan del Sur
  • Mombacho Volcano

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Nicaraguan Tourism Board
Hotel Crowne Plaza, 1c Sur, 1c. Oeste. Managua, Nicaragua. Aptdo. Postal No. 5088
Pbx: (505) 2254-5191 / Fax: (505) 2222-6610
www.visitnicaragua.us