Cape Town is a beautiful city, located on the shore of Table Bay, and dominated by Table Mountain, Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head. Since we arrived in Cape Town, we knew we wanted to climb Table Mountain. It’s a Cape Town landmark, and even has cable cars to bring the more sedentary to the peak and back.
We stayed in Cape Town for 4 days and based on weather forecasts and our schedule, the best day to hike to the top of Table Mountain was New Year’s Day. We had a couple days of cloudy skies, and since we wanted views, we waited for a clear day. And New Year’s Day delivered with the weather, so we started the New Year with an early morning walk up Table Mountain.
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”
Maderas Volcano is 1394 meters at the peak, making it the shorter of the two volcanoes on Ometepe Island
At the top is a cloud forest
There is a crater lagoon on the summit of the volcano
There is abundant animal life, including monkeys
And I quote “The Maderas hike is an ardous endeavour on a steep defile dug into the rock and excavated by water. The humidity transforms the trail into a muddy, slippery path and sometimes you have to really climb instead of walk”
Yesterday we went for a visit to Mombacho Volcano, a close drive from Granada and a beautiful protected Nicaraguan park.
We booked a tour for $35 through Tierra Tours. After a little research, $35 seemed standard unless you book through our hotel which charges $50. We went with the standard price 🙂 The Tierra Tours van picked us up at around 9:30am and we were off. There was already a man from Belgium in the car, and then we picked up a couple from Toronto (actual Toronto, not people from hours away telling people they live in Toronto) and we headed for my first volcano of the trip!
Mombacho is a “dormant” or sleeping volcano. It hasn’t erupted since the 1500s but it is definitely alive. We saw steam coming from the earth and smelled sulfur more than once, especially near the crater. It is closely monitored for activity.
There are a few other things to do in San Juan del Sur besides visit the beach – although the beaches are lovely! After one week, I’ve visited places that are tops on tourist lists, and some that aren’t. One of the first sites I visited was the statue of Cristo de la Misercordia, who sits atop a hill overlooking the ocean 134 meters up.
Estatue de Cristo de la Misercordia
A pretty easy walk up a mostly paved road, or you can drive most of the way if you choose, the view is worth it. You can walk right from the beach of Playa del Sur through a residential neighborhood to the top. It offers a 360 view of the main town beach and more. Admission is $2. There is even a little chapel in the bottom of the statue!
It was interesting checking out the spot. According to the display in the church, the statue is quite new and was only completed in 2009. They did a good job because this is definitely a tourist attraction! Lots of tourists go, and apparently Jimmy Carter and his wife went a few years ago (there’s a photo of them in the chapel).
This morning was amazing! We woke up at the campsite to find that we were not alone. Brian got to talking to a man who we think was the owner of the place. Very Northern, and very understated, he suggested we drive up the hill and see the geothermals. Wow! Are we glad we did. It was impressive, surprising, amazing, and many other adjectives. Brian said it was in his Top 5s of Iceland (not sure what the other 4 are: probably hot pots) and it definitely made my day. After that, it is going to be hard to top.
People from Medellin know where to go for their weekend breaks: Guatapé. This beautiful lakeside town is located just a short 90 minute bus ride from the city. We took the bus yesterday afternoon and it was relatively painless and on time.
Guatapé sits on a man-made reservoir built in the 1960s by the hydro-electric company, so there are a lot of water sports opportunities in the area, and the town itself is beautifully decorated with colorful art. There is also a giant rock called El Peñon which is a popular climb offering beautiful views of the water and mountains.
We knew we needed the exercise, and our host Robin was willing to take us up the nearby mountain for some outdoor entertainment and views of Bogotá. We got up early this morning and left at 6:30am for a long hike up a very high hill.
We walked from Robin’s apartment to the mountain and then up and back, so all in all it took about 3 hours from start to finish.
We left so early because this land is privately owned and only open to the public until 10am. It’s a beautiful spot along a river with eucalyptus and pine trees so it also smelled great too!
Robin told us the mountain doesn’t have a name, but the river site is called Quebrada La Vieja. I’ve also seen some tours online call it Chapinero Mountain, but there really is not much info about it online. It’s a “secret” locals hike, which in parts felt like it was alone to us. It was also steps from city streets but looked, sounded and felt very remote at times.