Hiking my first volcano – Madera, Isla De Ometepe

I’ve always wanted to hike and play on a Volcano and on Isla De Ometepe I had my first chance. A group was going the following day so we decided to climb Madera as it’s the easier climb but it’s still quite brutal!

We started at lake level (which is pretty much sea level) and walked out of the hostel and started the long arduous climb upwards. Within minutes I had started to sweat and hated the weight of my rucksack. We climbed through a banana plantation, passed mango trees, an avocado tree and kept going.

I was still sweating but we still kept climbing.

We walked through a little grass clearing and into the jungle and were deafened by the crickets and howler monkeys. We leapt over fallen trees, plodged through mud, climbed over rocks, slid down steps and hit our heads on low hanging branches. I drank 2 litres of water and a bottle of Powerade in the first two and a half hours and still had another hour of climbing to go.

I sweated more.

We stopped at the half way point and had a short break and then kept climbing. It’s a 1,350m climb in sweltering heat, needing loads of energy and strength to leap from rock to rock and to climb the 3ft steps.

I kept on sweating.

We reached the top and clambered out onto the tree which allows you see the view and then headed down to the crater. The way down was steeper and harder than anything we faced thus far and we slid down on our backsides some of the way. At the bottom we found a lake which was about three feet deep but with 4 foot of mud – those climbed in sank to their waists!

I cooled down a bit and stopped sweating.

The climb down started out well but other members of the group were really slow so we ended up splitting up – me running down with one guide and the others trailing behind. It was difficult descent as my boots just slipped on all the mud and we ended up having to do a parkour type approach swinging from trees and jumping down from the rocks. This wasn’t a brilliant idea though – one tree I grabbed was covered in fire-ants and boy do they hurt when they bite! One stage I got my foot stuck in a tree branch thought I was about to snap my leg… Nothing stopped my descent though as everytime I stopped horse flies attacked and their stings really hurt – it was a downhill run for for 3 hours! By the end, I was back an hour earlier than the others and the guide even had to run back and grab my head-torch as darkness had descended on them.

It was brilliant fun. It was probably the most fun exercise I’ve done so far on my travels. The view and lake wasn’t worth it if your intention was to simply see that, but the climb was a tremendous fun!

More pictures

More pictures of the climb and Isla De Omtempe in general can be found in the Digitallery album Central America – Nicaragua – Isla De Ometepe

Click here to load a map showing you the location of this post and images from the digitallery taken nearby.