Departamento de Madriz

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  • Day5

    Somoto Canyon

    August 28, 2019 in Nicaragua ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    Somoto Canon
    Ich hatte die lange Route genommen, welche ca. 6 h dauerte. Viel laufen hiess es. Ich glaube, die haben keine Ahnung wieviel ich schon gewandert war. Das war vom FitnessLevel ganz o. Die Tour beinhaltete im Fluss schwimmen, aus Höhen jumpen und wandern.
    Es war sehr erlebnisreich. Obwohl mir aber am meisten die Ruhe und Natur gefallen hat. Extrem ruhig, wir sind dann ca. paar Hundert Meter im Fluss geschwommen, besser gesagt mitschlendern lassen und dann diese Ruhe. Nur den Fluss und z.t. Vögel und sonst nix. Keine Menschenmassen nur ich und mein junger Guide.
    es war ein toller naturfrohes Ereignis.
    Um 8 Uhr sind wir mit dem Bus von Somoto nach La Playa. Die runde hochgelaufen bis zum Fluss Rio Tapacali, danach im Fluss schwimmen, doet wo ser Fluss Rio Coman in Taoacali müdet ensteht später in der karibischen Seite der Rio Coco, grössze Fluss in Cemtral America. Danach wieder stück laufen. Bei den Gesteinen hochklettern, in Höhlen eintauchen und am Schluss bei Valle de Sonis runtergekommen.
    Akkes in allem erfolgreicher Tag.
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  • Day50

    Cañon de Somoto, Nicaragua

    March 6, 2017 in Nicaragua ⋅ 🌫 -12 °C

    What a day.

    1 car, 4 buses (1 regular, 2 chicken buses and a minibus) and 2 pickup trucks.
    3 countries.
    2 border crossings.
    12 hours.
    For a mere 360km.
    $13 USD each.

    And that's how you travel the local way from San Salvador, El Salvador, across the country of Honduras to Somoto Canyon, Nicaragua. To be fair it was a relatively problem-free day considering, with a saving of $32USD each had we done it by tourist/gringo bus. The only issue really was that we didn't particularly get the chance to eat as every time we got off one bus we'd quickly be bundled onto the next one as soon as anyone found out where we needed to go next. It was also ridiculously hot (30-35 degrees) and only the first bus had air conditioning, but I guess in some ways it was helpful as we only needed the bathroom once during the day because we were all just sweating out everything we drank! Thankfully we were lucky in the fact that we were always getting on each bus at the beginning of the line so we were always guaranteed a seat, unlike the many people that ended up standing in the aisle of each bus we took. This became highly entertaining for people watching when vendors would jump on at various stops to try and sell food, awkwardly squeezing past people in the aisles on the hard sell, all while the buses are on the move.

    We were cutting it a bit fine by the time we got to the Honduras/Nicaragua border though. We needed to contact the owner of our accommodation for the night to let them know where we were so they could meet us on the Nicaragua side. Unfortunately with no access to wifi nor any phones with service, we were a bit out of luck with this one. I spoke some muddled Spanish with one of the locals at our last stop before the border to borrow his phone to call, but it was unclear at this point why it wasn't working - whether his phone couldn't call Nicaraguan numbers or whether the other end wasn't picking up. We had to carry on before we could find out, time ticking on daylight and the border opening hours. Although we were the only ones in line on both sides of the border, the immigration officers on both the sides really mucked about passing our passports back and forth between each other and getting confused with who was who. What they were up to we really don't know but thankfully in this time when we were beginning to worry, Henry and Brian from Somoto Canyon Tours/Accommodation that we were using for the next couple of days, showed up at the border to pick us up for the last 7km. Supposedly Brian had managed to call back old mate that let us use his phone on the Honduras side and figured out it was us! A bit of luck to end an exhausting day which actually passed surprisingly quickly. Cold beers were well deserved after that one - new country, new beers so got to try them right!?

    Somoto Canyon Tours is a local family run business owned by Henry, which has grown both massively both physically and in credibility in the last few years. This is mainly due to the help of retired business-savy Englishman Brian who has spent 5 months a year here for the last 6-7 years getting the business up to scratch. What was once a small business with just the house for the family, has grown into a slick operation with decent accommodation (including the first flushing toilets of the village and electricity) and a restaurant for guests to use both before and after their tour of the Canyon. Now they've reached the point that they're even able to give back to their community, providing the last of their village with running water and providing shoes for some of the less-privileged kids. On top of that, other members family have managed to launch other micro-businesses, one running the restaurant for the guests, one starting a chicken farm to provide chickens for the restaurant but now doing so well he can sell to the community too. It's wonderful to hear how well they've been progressing.

    The real reason we came here was to visit Somoto Canyon, so after a decent sleep in the countryside post ridiculous travel day, we were up and at it for an 8am start. Fitted with lifejackets and sneakers, we were rushed off the deck mid-fitting to catch the chicken bus passing by. Sitting on a bus with a life jacket felt rather silly but thankfully it was only a few minutes down the road before we could all hop off again. Our group of 8 was multinational - a mix of Canadians, English, German and Australian - plus two lovely local guides. The English guy we actually met in Guatemala at our Spanish school, he was finishing as we were starting. Small world to come across him again!

    Walking down some gravel roads and past some farms complete with huge pigs and their wee piglets, we reached the river. We got straight into it, climbing over rocks, wading in the water and sometimes swimming, depending on the depth. It's dry season so the water was low, we're told that in wet season it can be at least 7-8m higher. Last October/November the levels were some 15m higher and unfortunately some of the locals lost their lives trying to cross the river. Brian tells us that less than 40% of Nicaraguans know how to swim. This is mind-boggling to people like us that grow up somewhere like NZ that you're just constantly surrounded by water. One of the many things we continue to realise that we take for granted.

    The river that runs through this canyon (El Coco) is actually the longest in Central America, extending all the way to the Caribbean. Water temperatures were definitely not Caribbean-like as the height of the canyon prevents much sunlight getting in, so we spent the first part of the day shivering once we'd got wet! It seemed every time we'd get dry and warm from walking, it'd be time to get back in the water. You can't win with us really. Too hot, too cold!

    Before long we were at our first rock jump of many for the day, ranging from 2-8m for us girls and up to 12-15 for the lads. One of the landings didn't go so well for our English pal but it provided entertainment for the rest of us and unfortunately for him it was caught on video too! There was a 20m jump one of the guides did as well, but it definitely wasn't for the faint hearted.

    It's a shame we weren't here a month or two later so the water was a bit higher so we could use some of the natural slides and float down the rapids a bit more but all in all it was a good experience with some lovely scenery.

    After a couple of hours to have a late lunch and a bit of horizontal time, we set off on a hike with some of our canyoning pals to a couple of lookout points. Mike and Rich thought this would be a great time to add in another MERC run so set off slightly later. Before long we realised they were in for a tough run, not only in terms of steepness but also in terrain and heat! Surprising lack of blowouts and they managed to time it so we all ended up at the top together. The lookouts offered some awesome views over the canyon we had walked through during the day and the land beyond. With sunset looking like it was going to be average considering the cloud cover, we headed back to base while it was still light.

    Dinner with the team plus some well deserved beers and it was fair to say we were knackered following a couple of big days! No rest for the wicked though, bills were settled and bags were packed, we were on the move again the following morning.

    We're getting good at these early mornings. 6:30am wakeup for 7am departure - for which we are thankful that Henry was happy to drop us off in the Somoto township ready for an express bus southbound, otherwise we would have had to wake up even earlier. 13 of us plus luggage were loaded into his ute or sitting on the tray for the 12km ride to the town. Impressive. Today we're headed for the colonial city of León via express bus and chicken bus. Hopefully the early morning travel will allow us to miss most of the heat!
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    Scott Bufton

    Haha good one char

    Charlotte Dixon

    Mate I've grown heaps since you've been gone! 😉

  • Day120

    Nicaragua, Somoto Canyon

    January 23, 2018 in Nicaragua ⋅ ☀️ 37 °C

    Die Fahrt von León nach Somoto war ein Erlebnis!
    Mittags kurz nach 12 Uhr habe ich mich in ein gut gefüllten Chickenbus gequetscht. Die Suppe lief nur so, auch ohne große Bewegungen. Bis zur Abfahrt waren es noch gute 30 Minuten :-/ Zwischendurch kamen immer mal wieder Frauen, die Getränke oder Snacks verkaufen wollten, sogar ein Musiker ist in Bus gestiegen und hat uns unterhalten. Da es unmöglich ist seine Beine in die Sitzbank zu bekommen, saß ich 2,5 Stunden auf halber Arschbacke. Anschließend habe ich mich samt Backpack durch den Hinterausgang gequetscht, froh sich wieder strecken zu können. Der nächste Bus war ähnlich, hier hat sich dann leider noch wer übergeben (hat aber auch keinen interessiert). Taschen, Bäuche und Hinterteile landeten abwechselnd in meinem Gesicht. Egal wie voll der Bus war, der Ticketmann hat permanent die Leute im Gang sortiert. Der eine nach vorne, der nächste nach hinten usw....
    In Somoto wurde ich netterweise vom Guide abgeholt. Ein Taxi kam, mit uns hatte noch eine Familie gewartet. Die Familie ist auf die Rückbank und ich hab mich gefreut vorne zu sitzen. Trugschluss, der Guide hat sich auch noch auf den Beifahrersitz gequetscht. Wieder halbe Arschbacke inkl. Handbremse.
    "Ist nicht lang, nur ne Viertelstunde" - Ah, perfecto!

    Am nächsten Tag habe ich eine 6-stündige Canyontour gemacht. Abwechselnd ging es über Land und durch Wasser den Canyon entlang, bis uns Boote abgeholt haben. Honduras war nur 1 km weiter und die Landschaft wirklich toll! Das ganze Panorama habe ich mir dann noch auf dem Rücken eines Pferdes angeschaut.
    Fazit: Drei Stunden im Sattel war definitiv zu viel des Guten! Jetzt muss Heilsalbe her ;-)

    Das darauf folgende Mittagessen hat mich dann für ganze drei Tage außer Gefecht gesetzt.
    Für mich gibt's vorerst kein Fleisch mehr, bah...
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    Marko Gutsche

    war der Guide denn hübsch .-)))

    Benita Braun

    Kannst du bitte im nächsten Chickenbus mal ein Bild machen;)

  • Day81

    Somoto Canyon

    March 18, 2017 in Nicaragua ⋅ ☁️ 8 °C

    Early in the morning the crew around Chuck left full of excitement to go to Somoto. I didn't realize till we were on the bus that it was a 2h busride just to get to that town. Here we were picked up by our guide who jumped with us on a second bus to get to the entrance of the canyon. Here we got a little introduction to the tour and left everything but our water bottles and cameras behind as we were swimming a big part of the tour. Luckily I had bought the neopren swimsuit from Kim as this would also keep me warm here. Also the had water shoes so I didn't have to get my sneakers all wet.
    First we walked for a while into the nature and along the water till the point where we had to enter the water for the first time. Our guide took our bottles and cameras for us in his dry bag so we could swim freely. They made us wear life vests which I first thought was stupid but realized pretty quick that this was pretty cool as you could just float through the water with it.
    Along the way there were a lot of situations where we could jump into the water from rocks of different heights. In between we would hike, climb, swim and float through the canyon. The views were super impressive. Floating on your back through the water looking up you would see the canyon walls on both sides and the clouds moving over the gap. It was such a weird perspective.
    The canyon got narrower and narrower and the rocks to jump down from higher and higher. The last one was 20m. But nobody did that one except for a local guide. And even he was standing up there quite a while before he jumped.
    I took the one below that which was probably about 10m heigh. For the last bit you take a boat till the end of the canyon. After a nice lunch we started making our way back which still took us a few hours. But it was a really nice daytrip and the crew was super!
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  • Day353

    Floaty Light

    May 4, 2017 in Nicaragua ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    We only had a few km after crossing the border to reach Somoto Canyon, and were still high up (well 800m) surrounded by glorious green hillsides. After staying in the yard of a local guide & his family, we set off at 9am to do the long canyon tour with Claudia, one of his daughters. She kept asking us if Maya liked swimming & we soon realized why as we had to launch ourselves off rocks into a deep, smooth sided, water filled canyon. Maya was loving it and swimming really well, until she discovered that it was far easier to sit on the backs of our life jackets!

    We opted for the long tour and spent 5 hours meandering our way through the canyon. Fortunately the water was a beautiful temperature, and it was much nicer to lazily float along than walk along the banks.

    By the time we got back to camp we were pretty shattered, and we had a lovely meal cooked for us by Fausto's wife. The whole family lived on the same plot and they kept coming over for little chats. They were all members of the village cooperative who ran the tours of the canyon, and it was nice to be away from the backpacker trail and in the heart of real Nicaragua.

    That night it rained pretty hard (well the rainy season is supposed to start in May), and by the morning the place had turned into a quagmire. The whole family got covered in mud trying to get us out (at one point the main guy Fausto even insisted on washing my feet!) and after an hour of struggle we eventually got our tyres onto firm ground.
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  • 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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You might also know this place by the following names:

Departamento de Madriz