• Day141

    Somoto, Nicaragua

    March 7, 2017 in Nicaragua ⋅ ⛅ 2 °C

    Chicos in a Canyon.

    Somoto Canyon Tours is a small operation based just outside of Somoto at the base of the canyon which constrains El Rio Coman a tributary to El Coco the longest river in Central America. Fortunately for us, they're just a short ride to the western Nicaraguan border, making yesterday's travels possible.

    Henry and his family (read: countless family members) have been navigating the canyons for decades, the last of which they has been in the company of a well travelled and now retired Englishman named Brian. With the help of Brian's english and business savvy, Henry has turned a dodgy family owned canyon tour operation into a certified tour company, hostel and restaurant. Their complex has more than trebled in size and luxuries (flush toilets and power!) and their operation demonstrates professionalism we haven't seen since the states. They also use their profits to support community projects such as providing running water to houses. That and funding Henry's shiny new Hilux!

    We had two nights here, isolated in the countryside with a few other tourists, one of which we had previously met at our spanish school in Guatemala - small world! We signed up for a six hour canyon tour for a whopping $30 US pp. Ouch!

    Whilst fitting our shoes and life jackets on the morning of our tour, our bus showed up and we literally bolted off the porch and down the hill to meet it - mid fitting. Luckily we didn't forget anything but it was a very rushed start to what would be a chilled out day.

    We arrived at the upper end of the canyon and walked in on farm tracks, through rivers and scrambling along rocks. It was a slow start and the low water levels meant that the whole tour would be relaxed, even so much as we had to get out and walk sections. It was good fun scrambling over the slippery rocks and jumping from pool to pool. There were plenty of opportunities for adrenaline - numerous six - eight metre jumps littered the course peaking with a whopping 20m jump in the lower section. Fair to say we chickened out on that, but got a good rush from the 15m which left one bloke in a bit of pain. Our guides were awesome, carrying all our gears and snacks in dry bags and pointing out all the local flora and fauna. The water was pretty fresh and with no sun for the best part of the morning there were some chully bodies. At the bottom of the canyon we lay on the hot rocks like seals and warmed up before taking tiny steel dinghies out the base of the river and walking back up the hill to Henry's house for lunch.

    That afternoon was lazy until we decided to go for a hike. There was a look out above the canyon which had come recommended. Unfortunately nobody had mentioned the severity of the grade, so when Mike and I decided to run it we got awfully close to another MERC blowout! But not close enough. We caught the others just as they arrived at the top and admired the view soaked in a setting sun.

    Dinner and beers at Henry's that night were well earned and tasted that way too!

    Early the next morning we piled back into Henry's ute (all 13 of us plus bags!) and drove back into Somoto for the bus to Leon. That's where I am now, my right foot covered in raw chicken juice and my back sweat headed towards the rainy season! Mmmm!
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