Volcano MaderasFebruary 25, 2017 in Nicaragua
There are 2 volcanoes on Isla de Ometepe. The higher one is Concepción. Maderas is a bit smaller but completely covered with forest and has a lake inside the crater. As I had done the high volcano with Acatenango I decided to go for Maderas. Also "swimming in a crater lake" would be a new thing to add to my list of things to do on a volcano (after sliding down on a wooden board and driving up on the back of a pick up truck).
When I got to my hostel I met a group of people who wanted to climb up the next day and were happy to let me join them. Malin and Sofia from Sweden and Jon and Stuart from England. We weren't sure if it was necessary to take a guide as everybody said something different. But when I went for dinner I ran into 3 french canadian friends I had met at Laguna de Apoyo and the told me they did it by themselves and it was totally fine. So the next morning we left early around 7:30 and after getting some more snacks along the road started our hike up the volcano. At the entrance we figured that we at least needed a guide on paper and choose Jon to be our guide from now on.
I quite liked the hike up the volcano. We were walking in the woods most of the way and the vegetation would change from dry forest to rain forest to cloud forest the higher we got. Also the climate changed (obviously). It was pretty dry and hot when we started and got more and more humid. It went uphill almost all the way and sometimes we had to climb over roots of fallen trees but there was always something to hold onto and it made the walk more versatile.
The other 4 were a little slower climbing so I walked by myself most of the time but it was fine as you can't really talk much walking uphill all the time anyway and it only gave me longer breaks every now and then when I waited for them to catch up. It also led to me being the only one seeing a snake on the way up.
Besides that we saw monkeys and lots of frogs.
Halfway up there was a look out point from where you had a nice view over to Concepción. We took a longer break here fueling up on bananas and Cheetos (my new favorite super artificial snack).
It was really easy to find the right way up and whenever there was a fork our guide Jon would say "If there is a fallen tree, make a left!". I thought it was just a joke and always took the one looking more used. Usually the to paths would join together at some point anyway. But almost all the way up there was really a fallen tree where the path would split. I learned someone had told Jon about this being the only point where you could go wrong - the path coming from the right was another path joining from another entrance. So if you take that one you gonna go down again ;)
We used this point for another break and the others took out their food: pizza from the night before. What a great idea. Luckily they gave me a slice to share.
Just after this we met a guy who said it was just about 40 more minutes to go. The others fell back again but I decided to just keep ob going and make my way to the top. In the end you had to climb quite a lot and it got a bit muddy but still fine to achieve.
When I stepped out of the forest onto the open stone surface of the final lookout point I was first a little disappointed. I didn't know we would not be able to look over the lake and the other volcano. The look out point was within the crater and you couldn't get any higher from here (and as the rim was covered with woods I didn't realize I had climbed over it and couldn't look far because of the trees). But after I had realized that I was amazed by the view of the inside of the crater covered with forest and the lake in the middle.
We had some more pizza and bananas up here before climbing down towards the lake. Lots of people coming up here only do one of the two. The lookout or the lake. Why? After you have climbed all the way up there? I mean you are not coming back the next day to do the other one, right? But it's also due to the guides spreading the rumor it's really steep to climb down to the lake straight from the lookout point. I guess they are just too lazy to do both as they probably climb up there every other day. We went straight down and it was fine. It was actually less steep then the way we took climbing back up later that led back to the path to go down.
The lake was different than expected :)
The water was supposed to be freezing cold (I think another myth probably spread by guides that don't wanna go down there). So we walked towards the lake carefully to figure the water wasn't that cold. But after a few steps I was suddenly half a meter shorter - I stuck kneedeep in mud! We started laughing but laughing the loudest was a guide who was there with another group. After that she told us it's easier to go in from another point. We tried there but it was still pretty muddy. So as soon as the water was waistdeep we started swimming to escape the mud. But we never did! Even in the middle of the lake you couldn't swim free letting your feet go down. You would always touch a soft and muddy surface. We were quite disgusted by it but also couldn't stop laughing about this weird experience.
After the swim we chilled in the sun for a while and started our walk back when we realized we could get close to sunset if we don't go now.
The way down was of course faster but not much easier as you really had to watch where to place your feet. But it was nothing compared to Acatenango.
Going down Jon kept up with me which was nice as going down makes talking a lot easier. After the halfway Lookout point we told the others we wouldn't be waiting at the entrance but at the first shop that sold beer :)
And that's what we did. Nothing is as refreshing and rewarding as a ice cold beer after a hike like this.Read more