Ascending Volcán Maderas, a 1,394 m tall, long-dormant volcano on the south side of Isla de Ometepe.

Volcán Maderas, crowned in clouds.
The volcano, crowned in clouds.

I’ve spent the last few days in Granada (more on that in a bit). Yesterday I took 2 buses, a taxi, and a lancha (a small boat) to reach Isla de Ometepe. I headed to the south island, because I was really motivated to climb a volcano, and I’ve read that the larger volcano takes TWELVE HOURS to climb. I read that Volcán Maderas, on the other hand, only takes EIGHT HOURS. And as far as suffering goes, I’ll take 4 hours less of it, any day.

Last night, my (new) friend Cat and I ate dinner at a Nicaraguan family’s house, beside our hostel. It seems that this family thrives off providing amenities for lower prices than our hostel. As our hostel is packed with a visiting group of veterinarians from OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY (!!), I didn’t feel too bad about helping out a local family and denying our hostel a bit of restaurant revenue. During dinner, the family matriarch offered her son as a hiking guide to us, and we accepted.

So today we headed back to the house, ate breakfast, bought some bread and fruit from the woman, and set out with her 16-year-old son, Edar, to hike the volcano.

The trail didn’t so much lead forward as UP. We left at 7:15, walking through some slightly uphill farmland, until the cornfields ended and the trail twisted sharply 90° vertical. 2 hours later, we stopped for a meal just below the cloud-line, and Edar informed us we were at the halfway point. By this time, I was soaked through with sweat. My hiking pants, shirt, and pack were all hanging damp and heavy. I think it was about this point that I stopped thinking.

View of the island from the halfway point.
View of the island from the halfway point.

We left our halfway point, and for the next 2 hours, we just placed one foot over another, often using all fours and a medley of roots and hanging vines to steadily gain elevation. And then it started to rain. We were really drenched.

Edar pointed out the San Ramon waterfall to us:

San Ramon waterfall.
San Ramon waterfall.

(I had been thinking of hiking to the waterfall tomorrow. We’ll see what really happens, since at the moment I’m facing a load of wet gear, bruised feet, and some sore legs.)

We found howler monkeys, a boa (“It’s not dangerous,” said Edar. “NOT DANGEROUS?!” I replied. “No, it’s too small,” said Edar. “He only eats chickens.), and a coral snake (“One bite and you’re dead,” said Edar.), and a mountain crab! I didn’t even know mountain crabs existed!

I'm just a crab. On a mountain.
I’m just a crab. On a mountain.

Finally, we reached the top. Unfortunately, it was too cloudy to see the crater lake, Laguna de Maderas, that formed when the volcano blew its top. It was all just white mist. But we were there!

...soaked to the bone, and happy.
…soaked to the bone, and happy.

After taking a brief, chilly lunch at the top, we clambered down the muddy trails. Where the danger ascending was dehydration, the danger descending was twisting an ankle.

Descending through the cloud forest. That's Edar on the left.
Descending through the cloud forest. That’s Edar on the left.

We made it back by 2:30pm, making our round-trip about 7 hours. My feet felt like they were ready to burst, and my leg muscles were actually quivering when I stood still. Guess who hasn’t been in training while she’s been travelling?!

Took a nap, and woke up to the sunset over the west side of the island:


Sleep tight, Rachel.

One thought on “Subiendo Volcán Maderas

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