When I was walking past all of the tour operators in Granda (looking for transport to León) I came across Leo tours http://www.vivatravelguides.com/central-america/nicaragua/granada-and-around/granada/granada-tours/leos-tours/

I really liked the guy as he said I don’t need to book a transport for 15$ or so but could just use the public bus for 2$. I liked the idea (even though I never got to go to León later) and the honesty. Not a tour operator who like to charge as much as possible to tourists. Therefore I asked them about different volcano hikes and we ended up in discussing the two volcanoes on Ometepe Island. He introduced me to Herling and he was absolutely authentic. Explaining a possible tour, what he could do for me, where to save money as e.g. taxi drivers charge to much (like 15$ from the bus station to the port – with his help we paid 1$). He just seemed like a great guy (which turned out to be a correct interpretation).

Only one issue. Due to boat schedule an the journey to Ometepe, as well as the height of the volcano (1650 – 1700m – apparently not 100% certain) we couldn’t do it in one day. Herling explained that we could leave the next day, very relaxed, he would show me the island, his family and where they live and I could stay at his families place and we can start hiking at 4:30am.

Now I had to decide, because with two days it would mean that I couldn’t go to León for the volcano surfing (I didn’t want to turn down Brian’s invitation to Ocotal as well, as this was interaction with locals instead of tourists). I was really looking forward to that volcano surfing thing, but I decided this is quite some effort for going down a mountain once – so I chose the opportunity to spend 2 days as well as one night with the locals.


It was a good choice.


On the first day we went a bit through Granada and he explained stuff and talked about the history. We took the chicken bus to Riva and the ferry to Ometepe. All the time I had the opportunity to get to know Herling and Nicaragua. On the island we made our way to his/his families house where his mom cooked some late lunch/early dinner for us. They live in very modest surroundings – but in contrast to many other people in Western countries, they didn’t seem to be complaining – and where very open/helpful and shared what little they had. It should remind someone to think about the good things we have and not what else we could be having. Everyone in the “western world” – stop complaining 🙂

We got up at 4:30am and after Herling’s mum prepared some typical food for us – we started hiking at like 4:50am. We hiked from his home in San Marcos and it was a long hike already until the volcano started! I underestimated this. I also overestimated my fitness level 😉

Back in the tour-office in Granada I was very confident and said I want a guide for myself as everyone else would slow me down. But when the volcano started I soon realized: I haven’t done any training in 2014. As always I had a back bag that was way to heavy (3l water and other stuff) – and I had to ask Herling to carry. We still made it to the top in around 3 hours which isn’t a bad time – but I was not as fit as I used to be J

Everyone else turned around at the viewpoint as it was extremely windy there – but I had to go to the top! (we have been the only ones who made it to the top). It was an interesting hike, even with all the clouds and even though we didn’t see anything up there. The kind of stone, the smell, the wind… It was worth it for me!

At the top the GPS showed 1650m. In total it was 24km 1650m ascent.

Details: http://cyclemeter.com/c1b6801c4ea17a49/Hike-20150130-0441?r=s

These were two really great days. Thank you Herling!