Day 68: Climbing the Volcán Maderas
Balque Travel Blog› entry 94 of 120 › view all entries
Early in the morning Phil, Tania and I chartered a taxi to the town of Balgüe. The Finca Magdalena is a bit of an eco backpacker hangout and upon arrival I immediately felt a pang of regret that I hadn't stayed here instead of the hostel in Moyogalpa. What a great place!
Just like the guy at the tourist office had told me yesterday, there was indeed a tour being organised today (several, actually) and our group was expanded with an American couple, Christina and Tim, and an Australian, Brad. The six of us would set out with a guide to climb the extinct Volcán Maderas - an eight hour return climb!
But first breakfast! Even though we'd already had breakfast at the hostel in the morning, the owner of the Finca would not hear no for an answer.
We set out a little after 8.30, and soon it became clear that even though the Maderas is the smaller of the two volcanoes, it certainly wouldn't be an easy climb. No only was the climb very steep, it was also extremely slippery. The volcano is entirely covered in rainforest, and the ground was really muddy, not to mention the dozens of mossy tree trunks we had to climb over.
Once we reached the crater rim I thought we had had the worst, but this was not the case. We descended into the crater, which was even steeper than going up the side of the volcano. The descent was so steep we had to use a rope to climb down.
But it was worth it. Inside the crater is a beautiful tranquil crater lake, where we could go for a little swim to wash off the mud.
The break at the crater lake was lovely. The sun came out and we all had a lovely swim. But then came the worst, going back down again. And going back down meant we first had to go up to the crater rim again. Using the same rope we'd used to climb down, we had to scramble the 100 or so metres up to the crater rim. Well, if we'd felt clean after our swim, we were now just as dirty again. Perhaps even worse, as climbing up the crater rim meant literally crawling through the mud.
On the way down we had the added bonus that we now had our back to the volcano, so we were looking away over the island. The weather had cleared significantly and we had some great views over the other volcano that makes the Isla de Ometepe, the volcan Concepción. “That one tomorrow?” I joked to the others.
Once back in Balgüe we received the unpleasant news that there was no transportation back to Moyogalpa. As it was Sunday there were only few buses, and the last bus of the day had left two hours ago. Bugger! We were all just knackered from the gruelling climb, and none of us was up for walking the 30 kilometres back to Moyogalpa. Now what?
I figured we should try to hitch a ride, after all, that had worked yesterday. But how do you hitch a ride with 6 people?
We were lucky though, we'd only been waiting for half an hour when a couple driving a pick-up stopped and offered to drive us to Moyogalpa for 200 córdobas (US$ 15). An outrageous amount of money, but we gladly paid it.
Turned out the guy driving us was the mayor of the island. He'd just been doing his round around the island, which he does every weekend, checking up on the people living in the more remote areas.
Because everything in Balgüe had been closed, we asked him if he knew of a good place in Moyogalpa where we could get a bite to eat. “Even better” he said. “My sister has a hospedaje along the way, and she can cook you guys some food. In fact, we were just on our way to visit her!”
Something in me said the guy was full of shit, but then again, why would you make up something like that? And he brought us to a place where they served hot food, and drove us back to our hostel afterwards, so who were we to complain?
Of all the volcanoes I'd climbed this trip (so far) this had by far been the most difficult, but it had also been the most rewarding trek. It had been an ordeal, we all looked as if we'd descended into the circles of hell and got back out again, but it had made us feel particularly good about ourselves.