Samaipata is a beautiful village (1650m) 2.5 hours from Santa Cruz. The Bolivians use it as a weekend get-away, but tourist are slowly but surely discovering it as well. This peaceful village in the foothills of the Cordillera Oriental has lots of nice foreign-run, stylish hostels and restaurants.
I stayed in Hotel Paola which has a nice balcony overlooking the beautiful plaza and spent my days reading, going to the used clothes and vegetable market. I also went to visit El Fuerte – the ancient mystical site.
If you’re coming from the lowlands, it’s also a good place to begin altitude acclimatization by degrees.
Happy New Year! It’s been a few weeks since I managed to get to a reliable enough internet connection to update our blog, but fear not, I’m now back in civilization and catching up!
Isla de Ometepe is Nicaragua’s fantasy island, formed by twin volcanoes rising out of Lago de Nicaragua (Lake Nicaragua). Lago de Nicaragua is a HUGE lake – 177km long by 58km wide – and looking out across it is more reminiscent of gazing out to sea than an inland lake.
I made my way here on an extremely rough four hour boat trip from Granada, during which time I miraculously managed to avoid chucking my guts up. For anyone else trying to get to Isla de Ometepe, I’d definitely recommend the easy route via San Jorge.
Having braved the extremely broken-up roads around the island, I ended up with a cheap $5 room at Santa Cruz, just past Playa Santa Domingo and at the foot of the Maderas volcano. I soon realized that on Isla de Ometepe I was in a wonderfully unspoiled & friendly place – perfect for walking, relaxation and simply contemplating. Some of the activities possible here include hiking the volcanoes, horse-riding & swimming. We ended up doing very little here except for wandering around the island, and climbing half way up Volcan Maderas – one of the most memorable walks I have done in a long time. During a five hour walk I met one farmer, some monkeys and no tourists.
It was hard to drag myself away from Isla de Ometepe, but the nearby beaches & surf of San Juan del Sur beckoned.