I Like This Place! Corn Islands

Corn Island Beach
Corn Island Beach

Brian and I made it to Corn Islands on Saturday morning, and it’s very relaxing. There are a few things to do here in Corn Islands: scuba dive, lie on the beach, drink beer and/or rum, eat seafood, relax in the sun and/or shade, repeat. That’s been us for the first 2 days of our stay here. We like it.

We are staying in a really cool “eco-cabin” up a hill with a nice view of the sea. This is our view from the deck/patio, and from our bed.

Los Escapados Corn Island
View from our patio, Corn Islands

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Somoto Canyon Day Trip

Somoto Canyon
Somoto Entrance Sign

Ever since I read about Somoto Canyon, I have wanted to visit. As you know, this trip was supposed to happen on Wednesday, but I messed that up big time! I tried again yesterday and the day started fine; I got a taxi and held onto my wallet and bag for dear life. Once I boarded and  saw a woman carrying actual chickens onto the bus, I knew it was a good sign! Some people go whole vacations without seeing a chicken on the chicken bus, and I got two chickens on my 4th chicken bus! The day was going to be good!

Chicken Bus
The woman with 2 chickens on the chicken bus to Somoto
Chicken bus
Zoom in on the chickens

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Exploring Estelí

Estelí is a big city in the northern highlands of Nicaragua. It feels smaller than León, but I think that’s mainly because the traffic is better. In León, I always felt like I was about to be hit by a car (pedestrians do NOT have the right of way here!). Estelí traffic is better because the streets are mostly one way.

I had plenty of time to get to know Estelí today, so I walked around town for a bit, went to a museum and visited the cathedral.

There is a quite a bit of street art in town. I am not sure if it’s a direct result of the political importance of this town during the revolution (it was a Sandinista stronghold), or just lots of artists. The variety is really engaging and it made for a fun day looking for more murals.

Mural Esteli
Mural Esteli
Mural Estelí
Robot Mural Estelí

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A Day on a Coffee Farm in Matagalpa

Matagalpa is coffee country, and it was recommended I visit a coffee farm while here. I took the chicken bus north out of town and visited the organic coffee farm known as Selva Negra, or Black Forest.

The farm, and eco-resort and restaurant, is a self-sustaining business with it’s own town. As well as offering coffee tours, there are a lot of hiking trails, so I spent an entire day there. It was beautiful and interesting.

Matagalpa is at a higher elevation than anywhere else I have been in Nicaragua, and the weather is a bit cooler. It’s generally been in the mid 20s with a nice breeze, so really enjoyable. It still felt hot climbing the mountain on the hike at Selva Negra though! Continue reading “A Day on a Coffee Farm in Matagalpa”

Another Volcano Hike: Telica Sunset Tour

Telica Volcano
Telica from below

On Thursday night I did a twilight hike at Volcano Telica, part of the Maribios volcano chain, same as Cerro Negro.

The key reason for the “sunset” or “twilight tour” is because you have a much better chance of seeing lava. I know I already saw lava last weekend, but I am hungry for more! It’s so cool, it’s hot!

I signed up for the tour through Quetzaltrekkers, mainly because they are a non-profit organization that puts on various hikes and donates all proceeds to helping local communities. I was very happy with their work. It was a well run hike. Continue reading “Another Volcano Hike: Telica Sunset Tour”

Free León City Tour

Leon is an interesting city to walk around, but it’s always better to have a guide! I happened to find a new company that offers free walking tours every morning so did the tour on Thursday. The tour lasted 90 minutes and covered the centre of the city. I learned more about the history of the city, the country and some of the murals depicting these stories. On the tour with me were a Canadian couple and 3 Germans. Germans and Canadians are the most common tourists in Nicaragua right now.

I already mentioned the enormous amount of churches here, and the guide, Sebastian, pointed out León is known as a city of churches as there are 2 Catholic churches per neighbourhood here. I don’t know why that’s necessary but the churches are pretty to look at and have some crazy icons inside. He also informed us that the main cathedral has tunnels to 5 different churches in the city. These were created to fend off pirates!

Cathedral de León
Crypt entrance in the Cathedral of León

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Volcano Boarding at Cerro Negro

Volcano Boarding Cerro NegroVolcano Boarding is one of the top things to do when visiting León, so I signed up to do it almost immediately upon arrival. Why delay?

My hostal offers a daily tour through Nicatime Nicaragua. We left the hostal at 8am on Wednesday, got to Cerro Negro Volcano by 9am, and started hiking. The uphill climb is only an hour long, but with all the sand and rocks, it’s not easy. Slippery.

Cerro Negro
Our group climbing up Cerro Negro

Cerro Negro means Black Mountain, and that describes it perfectly. This fairly young, still active volcano is a pile of black sand and rock. People have been volcano boarding there for about 17 years, according to my tour guide, Oscar (just kidding, it was Lester – or Luther, damn I am bad at this. I’ll call him Oscar). Now that is the primary reason people visit Cerro Negro, and one of the top attractions in León. Continue reading “Volcano Boarding at Cerro Negro”

León

After a day and a half in León, I like it. It’s a pretty town with some beautiful churches. A lot of pretty churches. So many, that I can’t keep track of which ones I’ve visited. There’s also a lot of museums, street art, and history here. This morning I am going on a walking tour of the city, so I should learn more about all of those things! In the meantime, I have been taking photos.

León Churches I visited some of the churches, including the fairy tale pretty Iglesia el Calvario and the more traditional Iglesia El Merced.

Iglesia El Calvario
The pretty Iglesia El Calvario

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The Best Volcano Yet: Volcan Masaya!

Wowow wow wow wow.  Last night we went to Masaya Volcano. It’s best to go there at night because you can see the hot lava much better in the dark!!! HOT LAVA IN THE DARK. It was even better than it sounds, and I thought it sounded great.

So, it’s a big deal to go to the volcano at night. Everybody wants to see the hot lava. The cars line up on the side of the highway before the park opens for the night at 5:30pm (but, since it’s “Nica time”, it actually didn’t open until more like 5:45pm). People are standing on the side of the road too; some are vendors, others are just passengers who don’t want to sit in the cars.

Masaya Volcano
Some of the line up for Masaya

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A Kayak Tour of Ometepe

Ometepe Kayaking
Beginning of Kayak Tour

One day of rest was enough! Yesterday Lyna and I wanted to get out and see more of the wildlife of the Ometepes. We biked our way to the town(?) of Mérida and Caballito’s Mar Kayaks.

It was not an easy bike ride or kayak but wow was it worth it. Perfect weather – sun and some wind, and tons of wildlife! Here is a partial list of what we saw: a caiman, turtles, blue herons, monkeys, ospreys, sleeping bats, egrets, ibises, tiger herons, magpie jays, and parakeets. There were more but I can’t remember them!

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