Central America Branch FAQ
Replies: 68 - Last Post: Feb 5, 2013 4:47 AM Last Post By: SoloHobo
Aug 18, 2011 7:10 PM
60Nicaragua Caribe Coast
Going where few venture, from the Corn Islands/Bluefields up the coast to near Honduras. This Blog was posted my a ThornTree frequent contributor living in Nicaragua. Its am amazing journey that is a great read, and nice take on things in the middle of nowhere.
Right Side Guide Blog- Trip Report 2011
Aug 21, 2011 4:44 PM
61DRIVING A VEHICLE FROM MEXICO TO ARGENTINA INFO & FORUMS
There is no road between Panama and Colombia, so you must ship a vehicle.
Driving the America links
Motorcycle forums dedicated to adventure touring-You can take a small cargo boat, with a moto, or even some sailboats will take you and the bike, via San Blas Islands.
Horizons Unlimited Forum
ADV Rider Forum
Dec 17, 2011 5:18 PM
Here are some popular LINKS for each country, that will help you decipher transport, lodging and area highlights/excursions.
Nicaragua Info including San Juan river boats
Ometepe info and Bus schedule
Corn Islands Info & Links
Costa Rica to Bocas Del Toro & Caribe transport info & links
Tortuguero Canals Transport & Lodging Info
Southern Nicoya- Montezuma-Mal Pais area links/info
Guanacaste area lodging/activity links
Costa Rica General Info
Costa Rica Surf links & swell predictions
Mar 10, 2012 6:40 PM
63Honduras Trip Report via Belize
This is a very detailed and comprehensive report filed 3/10/2012.
Mar 21, 2012 3:21 PM
Jun 15, 2012 7:04 PM
Jul 9, 2012 7:22 PM
66climbing Ometepe's volcanoes
I found there to be a fair amount of misinformation about climbing Maderas and Concepcion, both from my guide book and what I was hearing on the ground, so I am sharing what I learned from researching and climbing these volcanoes this past June.
June turned out to be a great time to climb - they were often completely clear of clouds during the 8 days I was on Ometepe, although my guide said it was unusual to see into Concepcion's crater so clearly when we were at the summit.
The volcanos have very different personalities and so compliment each other. But surprisingly both have one thing in common - they force you to descend slowly which is what makes the round trip on each of these so long (about 8 hours each if you are in fairly good shape). Maderas has the slippery mud and Concepcion the rocky trail - it seems a mistake to let these put you off, neither are so bad just be patient on your descent.
The Maderas climb, once you get past the farms on the lower ranks, is completely forested and so there are no panoramic views. So Maderas offers a chance to walk through forest, spot monkeys, and listen to insects - it's a beautiful hike. We encountered 3 groups of monkeys - there is an impressive amount of monkey habitat on this volcano. At the top there is a shallow lake you can go swimming in with incredibly soft, smooth mud on the bottom - sink in past your knees. I started from Little Morgan's backpacker hostel and it took 8 hours for the round trip (we took our time swimming, talking etc.). Alexis was an excellent guide and charged $20. There are different trails that lead to the top, ex. one from Finca Magdalena, one from the other side, so there is a choice here. However, it seems like they would all offer a similar experience (someone correct me if I'm wrong). Climbing this is hard work, you will sweat it out, so I'd leave at first light - 5 am or earlier - to take advantage of the cooler temps.
The Concepcion climb is best done from Altagracia for two reasons. First, you can reach a point higher up on the rim of the volcano than the other routes. Second, it is safer and involves less loose rock at the top than does the La Flor approach. You can get a guide from Hotel Central, I had Levi who was excellent, he charged $25. This is an exposed hike - starting from half way up there are no trees and it can get really hot. I saw sun burnt hikers and someone fell sick from dehydration. For this reason, set out from Altagracia no later than 3:30 am (depends on your speed, go earlier if needed). This allows you to get up past tree line just as it is starting to get light - allowing you to see the rocky trail, summit early (7-ish), increase your chances of a cloud-free summit (clouds tend to form as the morning progresses), and get back below tree line before things really heat up. If this or an earlier time makes sense to you, don't let your guide talk you into leaving later. Much of this trail involves stepping from one lava rock to another so be patient on the way down.
Most climbers favor Concepcion for the views and volcanic activity (limited to a few small sulfur vents in the crater when I climbed it). If you use common sense, neither have any real danger spots. Both take about the same amount of physical effort and should be hiked with a guide. Both are unforgettable.
Feb 5, 2013 4:43 AM
67Trip Reports from poster Beeker Jan-Feb 2012
*Esteli, Nicaragua to Tegucigalpa, Honduras and how I did it. *
I left Esteli from the bus station about 10:30 am (35C) to Ocotal (about 2 hours). From Ocotal, we took another bus to Los Manos (14 C) the border (about an hour). At the border there was a $1 US tax at a stop before the Nicaragua immigration building. Then there was a $2 US exit fee at the immigration building.
The Honduras side was right next door. Because it was the weekend, there was a $4 US entrance fee into Honduras. It is normally $2 US. There was a bank on the Honduras side but it closed at noon on Sat. No ATM but there were money changers that gave me 20 L to the US $. The official rate was 19.9 L so I was happy. On the Honduras side there were a few little stores to get something to drink or snack on while you waited for the bus to El Paraiso (27 L) (15 to 30 minutes). We waited maybe a half hour/45 minutes for the bus to leave. In El Paraiso, we took a mini bus to Tegucigalpa (87L) (2.5 hours). A local bus would have been cheaper but we didn’t see any. It was already 3:30 so we didn’t want to wait and get into Tegucigalpa after dark.
Once in Tegucigalpa, we had to take a taxi for 200L (3 people) to our hostel. We didn’t barter much because it was almost dark. We stayed at the Granada 1 hostel. See my previous post about this pretty nice place with the best hot water shower I have had in almost two months.
This border crossing was much less hassle than when we crossed into Nicaragua from Honduras at Guasaule. We got no hassle from touts or money changers or taxis. It was straight forward and not a lot of walking.
Moyogatpa, Isla de Ometepe to Rivas (San Jorge port) to Esteli and how I did it and some things about Esteli
We took the 7am boat from the ferry (45C). There was a bus to Managua (65C) at the port leaving right away at 8:30 ish. All the locals were running to get off the boat and we couldn’t figure out why. They were trying to catch the bus. Not sure if it is always that way or if the boat was running late. The bus took about 2.5 hours.
At the Mercado Huembes Managua bus station we tried to get a collectivo or another bus to the Mercado Mayoreo station to get the bus to Esteli. We asked about five different people and they all said taxi. The taxis started at $15 US but we finally got it down to $6 US. The bus to Esteli (60C) took about 3 hours. There was a more expensive express that took 2 hours. Once we got to Esteli at about 2:30 PM, we weren’t quite sure where we were since our guidebook didn’t have the bus stations on the map so we took a taxi to town for 20C. The taxi driver was very nice and we didn't even barter to get the price.
Our hostel Tomabu was right on Central Ave. Central Ave goes right down to the town square. It was about 8- 10 blocks south from the town square. We paid 500 C for a private room with bath and tv. It was clean, had a court yard, kitchen, Wi-Fi and a good book exchange. The woman did chide me for leaving the bathroom light on all night. That was a first for me. We wish we would have stayed at the Hostel Luna for four reasons. Hostel Luna was right off the town square, does a lot of work with the underprivileged, there were other backpackers there and they were also cheaper than were we stayed (had dorm rooms). However the Tomabu is a good spot if want a clean private room, a book exchange, don’t mind walking into town and don’t mind getting up in the middle of the night to pee in the dark. : )
Esteli itself is a nice little town. There is a nice, new grocery store not even block from the town square. There are also a few nice cafes and restaurants around there as well. The Vuela Vuela on C 3 NE behind the town square is a beautiful building and is a NGO initiative that helps underprivileged youths. The food was pretty good as well. On Central right before the town square, there is a starbucks type place that looked really good. There is also a beautiful waterfall and the Miraflor reserve nearby that I am told merit a visit. We just didn't have time. I was pleasantly surprised by this town. There was a bank right on Central before the square that gave good rates for exchange. Everyone smiled at us as we walked down the street and no one hassled us.
Esteli has two bus stations but they are only about 100M apart. For the most part the Cotran Sur handles most traffic coming and going south. The Cotran Nore handles most traffic coming from and going North. On a side note, the agreed upon price for the taxi from our hostel to the bus station was 20C. However, when we gave him 30, he wouldn’t give us back change.
San Juan Del Sur to Isla De Ometepe and how I did it. Some things about Ometepe
We left San Juan Del Sur about 9:30am. The bus back to Rivas left the same place it dropped us off – about four blocks from the beach. The buses to Rivas are pretty regular. The bus was 36C for two. Tell the bus guy that you are going to Ometepe and you will be dropped off before the bus station at a round about. We were told that taxis are $3 US a person to the dock at San Jorge. There is also a bus that is like 30 C but we didn’t see one. It arrived as we were pulling up to the docs so if we would have waited we would have saved some money. We got swamped as soon as we got off the bus with taxi people. We thought we were negotiating for a taxi ride but some to find out it was a bike taxi. Big mistake. It is a long way – I am guessing like 5 KM or more. We negotiated $3 each but when we got there, he wanted more. So make sure if you are negotiating for what you think is a taxi, it really is a car taxi.
At the port, there was a 10C tax each. We caught an 11am boat to Moyogata for 45C each. It took a little over an hour. If you get sea sick at all, take something. The crossing gets worse as the day goes on. I am usually pretty good but I had to stare at the horizon a few times. Another word of warning. Isla De Ometepe has the worst shape dogs I have seen in almost two months and five countries of Central America. It was heart breaking. I really wish I wouldn’t have gone because of it but I did spent lots of time feeding them bread and dog food that I bought in a store. The last word of warning, in Moyogata, the roosters start at about 4am. They are relentless and loud. I can pretty much sleep thru most things but I was up every morning with them. I am not sure if it is the same with the rest of the island. So if you want to get an early start, you will in Moyogata!
The sunsets by the docks are really nice. There is a ferry coming in so you can get some nice shots of the ferry in the sunset. The sunrises over the volcano I heard were nice but the morning I saw it, it was very cloudy and I couldn’t see much.
Moyogata is the biggest “town” on the island and has three docs (side by side but different roads going into town). Different boats and ferries use different docs. Our rough guide gives directions from the dock. From what we gathered, it meant the middle dock. We decided to stay in Moyogata and do day trips. We stayed at the Landing Hotel just about 50 feet up from the middle dock. It was very nice. Dorms were $7 each. Beds were firm. Super clean. Nice bar area and three floors of common space as well as a court yard. Hammocks and couches on the 2nd floor and the view of the volcano from the 3rd floor was great. Juan worked days and his English was very good. He warned me up front that they were having issues with their Wi-Fi. It was intermittent. I liked his honesty and we stayed anyway. It worked sometime and sometimes it didn’t. He did seem to be on the phone with Claro a lot trying to get it fixed. He also gave us some great guidance on things we wanted to do and buses.
We took the 10:30 bus (45 minutes 25 C) one day to Ojo de Agua “Eye of the Water”. It is a volcanic fed cold spring. Cost $3 to get in and it is a nice way to spend a day or afternoon. There is a restaurant, changing rooms and bathrooms. There are also chairs and tables around the springs.
There are two entrances to the springs. The entrance near Playa Santa Domingo (PSD) is on the same road that the other entrance to the springs is on in El Quino. The road does a little U turn with the springs right in the middle. The entrances are on opposite sides of the U. From PSD it is about a 2km walk up the road coming out of PSD and then thru a cow pasture and a little bit of a wooded path. It takes about 20 minutes. There is a sign on the road so you know what cow pasture to walk thru.
Coming by bus from either Moyogata or Altagriacia there are two ways to get to the entrance on the other side. The bus may or may not turn down the road to PSD and Santa Cruz. If it does turn down it, then it will drop you off at the entrance road and it is a 500M walk to the entrance. (If you miss the entrance, don’t worry. The other entrance is just a few minutes down the road about five minutes before you get to PSD). If the bus doesn’t turn down the road to PSD/Santa Cruz, it will drop you off at the start of the road to PSD and Santa Cruz at El Quino. It is then a little over a KM walk to the entrance road. So if you can get a bus going to PSD/Santa Cruz, it will save you about a KM walk as it will drop you right at the entrance road.
Make sure you know when the buses are going back to your destination and where they are picking up from. The last bus from PSD was supposed to be at 3pm but it never showed up. Luckily we started walking at 3:30 and made it the start of the PSD/Santa Cruz road in 45 minutes. We just assumed that there would be a bus from PSD but there wasn’t. The last bus coming from Altagriacia to Moyogata (15C) left Altagriacia at 4:30 and reached the PSD/Santa Cruz turn off at 5pm. Just check the bus times cause a taxi ride back can be expensive. It may sound confusing but it wasn’t nearly as bad as my directions sound. The locals kept pointing us in the correct direction.
We also took a trip to PSD. It is an ok beach with a beautiful cliff on one side. The wind was whipping up pretty good so we didn’t swim as it was a little chilly for me. The waves were small though and people were swimming. There were a few restaurants that looked good as well as a vegetarian one. One restaurant advertised wi-fi but after we ordered our lunch we were told that it wasn’t working – even though I had four bars under its name. So if wi-Fi is important to you while eating, check it before you order as this happened at another place on the island as well. We knew some backpackers that were staying at the beach and they said the hostels all were nice. I think PSD might be a good place to do day trips out of as well.
We didn’t climb any volcanoes but if you wanted to, this island would be the place to do it as there are two. They were beautiful to look at!
A new place called the Corner House has great food. It is right up the main street from the dock. Breakfasts are huge and smoothies are nice. The western owners are super nice as well. They charge 20K for all day wi-fi. There is also a pizza place right across the street from the Landing Hotel that has really fast wi-fi and good pizza. I did not see a grocery store in Moyogata just smaller places that had some stuff.
Granada to San Juan Del Sur
We left Granada about 12:30 from the bus station right next to the market on a bus to Rivas. Took about two hours and it was packed like sardines. 40C each. That bus dropped us off and another bus was leaving right away to San Juan Del Sur. Again packed. 52 C each cause on this one we got charged for bags. I haven’t quite figured out why we have gotten charged for bags twice now in Nic but normally never do. It doesn’t matter if they are on top of the bus or up above the seats in the hand bag area. No rhyme or reason that I can see. We got into SJDS about an hour or so later. The bus dropped us off on a street that if you looked down about four blocks you could see the beach.
SJDS is pretty small so you could walk around the town in less than 15 minutes. If you walk towards the beach, you will see many places to stay. There are so many that if you don’t like the first one you see, it is easy to walk around and find another. A lot are on the 2nd street back from the beach as well as the street the bus lets you off on. Yajure is a really nice one at the end of the beach in a big white building. If you are looking at the beach, walk right to the end of the beach and go over the little bridge. It is right there facing the beach. It has a pool and gets great trip advisor recommendations.
We stayed at Rositas Hostel which is literally a mom and pop place. It was $18 US for a private room with air con and tv. There weren’t any other backpackers there but there were older nice western men that seemed to be staying longer term. It was on the same street that the bus lets you off at a block from the beach. It has a nice upstairs common room with a terrace so you can look out on to the street or watch tv and a book exchange. Free breakfast of toast and coffee. No Wi-Fi or computer. There is a kitchen but it was for the not busy, tiny restaurant. We asked if we could cook dinner before we realized there was a restaurant and she let us. We were going to move into the dorms ($5 a night per person) after two nights because we were over budget and she just let us stay in the room for $10. I thought that was really nice.
Hostel Esperanza is right on the beach, right in the middle of town. If you walk straight to the beach from where the bus lets you off you will run right into it. It is right past the Italian ice cream place (fab!). Our friends stayed there and got a room with a balcony overlooking the beach. They had to stay for two nights to get it and it was $20 US. Wi-Fi and a big free breakfast. It looked really nice as well.
Casa Ora seems to be the most famous place. We stayed there in 2005 and really liked it. We took their turtle tour then and wanted to do business with them again. We were going to stay there this time but we got turned around and couldn’t find it when we got off the bus. (I know SJDS is a tiny place but we couldn’t remember the name or exactly where it was). We looked around once we got settled and found it. We did book a shuttle to Playa Maderas ($5 US each) there and it was a fine shuttle. However, they wouldn’t let me use their Wi-Fi even though I had just spent $10 US with them for the shuttle. It was a cheap move I thought on their part as I could have gone to any other place, spent a lot less than $10 US and used their Wi-Fi. We were planning on moving over to their place the next day but decided against it because of that incident. They are for sale so I guess they don’t really care about repeat business. To be fair, I did see the most backpackers there and most people seem to like it fine. Judge me if you like but Wi-Fi is important to me as is customer service. lol
SJDS has a beautiful beach but nicer ones are just a $5 round trip shuttle away. You will see signs all over for shuttles to Maderas beach. I would suggest you go for at least a day as it is simply beautiful and a nice backpacker scene. Maderas Beach has two hostels on it as well. Los Tres Hermanos hostel is where the shuttle lets you off. There is also camping and hammock renting from I think the Revolution Café –also where the shuttle lets you off. There is also a taco themed restaurant there that the prices are in US $. Matilidas hostel is over the small rocks down the beach (looking at the beach walk right 15 minutes). It looked fabulous and their part of the beach is even more beautiful (I think) than where the shuttle lets you off. I got the impression that where the shuttle lets you off is more for surfers and Matilda’s area is more for swimming. Though we did swim at both.
Back to SJDS. There are tons of places to eat at SJDS. Generally cheaper places off the beach and more expensive ones on the beach. If you want to splurge, Barrios is a few blocks back from the beach and it was fabulous. We spent about 500C for two mains and two cokes but it was as good as anything I could have gotten at home. The cream sauce chicken pasta was really good. The service was great as well. It was very romantic if you are a couple. If you want to go cheap, there are a few taco stands around town and other cafes. I was very impressed with the amount and quality of places to eat. I did not see a grocery store right in town – just tiny stores but about 10 minutes walk out of town is a Pali supermarket. Open until 8 pm except for Sunday is closes at 5pm. The shuttle to Maderas normally passes by so on the way back, you can ask to be dropped off there. Take sun screen with you if you needed it. I only found one place that had it and it was like $10. Hope this helps a little.
Feb 5, 2013 4:47 AM
68Nicaragua- Kayaking the Rio San Juan via Ometepe
Trip report Feb 2013- by Kevinberg53
I thought I would share my Kayak trip down the Rio San Juan that I just got back from.
On 1-3-2013 We leave San Juan Del Sur by bus and headed to San Jorge to catch the ferry to Ometepe Island. Willie from the Hotel Castillo meets us at Moyogalpa, and we ride the bus to Alta Gracia where we get a room for the day for $10.00 each. The ferry comes in at 6:30 PM, and Willie gets us there by shuttle, but by the time everything is loaded, it is 8:00. The ferry is packed like a cattle car, with no room for a hammock or all of the deck chairs that are everywhere on deck. The cabin air conditioning is set to freezing, and there are not enough seats for everyone anyway. Water leaks onto the deck from the men’s room. We sleep sitting up on the benches, which at least have some padding. Finally the ferry gets in to San Carlos at 9:00 the next morning after a fairly smooth ride, and exhausted, we stumble off with all of our gear. I brought an inflatable 2 person kayak with me from Advanced Elements, with a strong reinforced floor. It worked superbly.
We book a room at Carelhy’s Hotel for $15.00 a night for the two of us. It rains hard for a while, and the roof leaks in the bathroom. We stay a couple of days. The military says that we have to get a waiver from an attorney that says we will not hold Nicaragua responsible for anything that happens to us on the trip, since I have my own Kayak. A local lawyer rips me off for $40.00 for the single paper he makes up in a ½ hour. We get tickets on the river boat to El Castillo, where we get rooms at a nice clean lodge type hotel, the Alberque, which is right by the old fort. We stay a week due to a case of food poisoning caught at a local kitchen, and a light sinus infection. We also spend time looking for a guide, and catching “Machaca” in the river on green plantain pieces and chicken. We watch big Tarpon rolling in the river while having morning coffee on the veranda of the hotel. We find a nice guide, Edwin Espinoza, who has a pulperia, The Hotel Melany, and a fishing guide service also. He shows us numerous trophies for catching Tarpon during tournaments.
We buy supplies needed for the trip at local stores and pulperias. Edwin has most of what we need at his.
1-12-13, We are off, the rapids at El Castillo are no problem for us in the Kayak. The river is beautiful and serene. We fish along the way, trolling a lure behind the Kayak. Edwin is in a canoe with the supplies. The next two rapids are no problem either. No more rapids now. We catch more Machaca. Approaching dusk, Edwin has us stop at a friends house on the Costa Rican side of the river, where we hang our hammocks under the roof of an older house, where we see erosion from a new road to a silver mine that has almost enveloped the house. Our host tells us that the government has promised to repair the damage, but the fill from the road is almost touching his house, and looks like it will push it over. Hopefully, it won’t be tonight. We go to the main house for a dinner of the fish we caught, rice, and some really hot peppers. Edwin is our cook also. Only about 12 miles today.
1-13-13 Sleeping on a hammock is different and takes a little getting used to. Howler Monkeys greet us as the sun comes up. I get up at dawn and catch two Machaca on my first two casts, then none for the next ½ hour. Our hosts cook us breakfast, and I give them the fish I caught, and we are off. We see an incredible amount of Iguana, Monkeys, flocks of Toucan and more Tarpon rolling in the river, Plus the occasional Crocodile and Caiman. I manage to fall in the water at the Boca de San Carlos military checkpoint while climbing onto the dock from the kayak. It is dark by the time we stop at a house on the Costa Rican side again. We eat a quick dinner and set up the hammocks again. 22 miles today.
1-14-13 Fresh Tarpon for breakfast, with rice and beans and good strong coffee. We get a local to take us up a couple of streams in hopes of catching fish, but no luck. Huge bats chase bugs at dusk. We watch them from the shore. No mosquito’s yet. No rain either.
1-15-13 Fishing in the morning, no luck. We watch 6-7 Tarpon come up the river in the shallows. We pack up and go. Iguanas are everywhere, and several large 8 to 9 foot Crocks, and several more 3-4-foot Caiman or Crocks. The river is beautiful, Toucan flying everywhere. We stop about 2:30 at a nice place and set our stuff up in a covered patio. Costa Rica again because there is a lot of nothing on the Nicaraguan side. There is a road all the way on the Costa Rican side, with farms, pulperias, and cabinas. We walk a couple of miles down the road and watch flocks of brightly colored Parrots fly around. Dinner of rice, fish, and fried Plantains. It rains all night and I am cold. 16 miles today.
1-16-13 Howler monkeys wake us up, as it still rains. We hang for a while, re-check the air pressure in the Kayak, and decide to go. We get to the next military checkpoint and buy 3 river shrimp from one of the soldiers. The biggest one is about 16 inches long. There is a cabina across the river at the mouth of the Rio Sarapiqui, and after checking in with the Costa Rican military check point, decide we stay there until tomorrow. For dinner the cook at the cabina fixes us the shrimp. They are delicious. I see a small Caiman, but nothing else. 3.5 miles.
1-17-13 It rains all night and into the morning, but we are in a real bed. The howlers wake us up again. The rain slackens up at around 10:00 and we are off. We stop again at the military checkpoint; buy 4 more even larger shrimp and head down the river. The forest is full of monkeys of all types, howling and jumping through the trees as we go by. Too many Iguana to count and birds everywhere. It rains like it will never quit. I have to bail out the kayak, and then turn it over on a sandbar to empty it out. We see the biggest Crocodile yet. It looks to be over 10 feet. There are many islands in the river, and we get separated from our guide. We wait for a while, and then head down the river looking for him. It is getting late when we get to the next military checkpoint, but our guide is not here, and he has our passports. The military guys are nice but firm. We can go nowhere without our passports, and there are no rooms or food supplies there. We can see all of that across the river in Costa Rica, but we can’t go any further. There is a dredge working nearby, and they give us some food and a nice glass of juice, (our first all day, we had skipped breakfast) and let us sit out of the rain. I offer to wash dishes, they laugh and decline. As we get done eating, Edwin, our guide paddles up in the canoe with our papers. Life is good. We go a few more miles down the river and stay with a Nicaraguan family. We hang our hammocks from their upper balcony. Edwin cooks the shrimp, which is delicious, and it is way past dark when we eat. It rains all night, and is very cold. I wasn’t prepared for it, since it was so hot in San Juan Del Sur, so I am cold again all night and don’t sleep much. Being wet didn’t help too much either. 18 miles today.
1-18-12 It is still raining as we get up at dawn. We pack up and go, more rain and I have to stop and bail the Kayak out. By now we are soaked to the skin, and I have been sitting in water most of the day. We stop at two more military checkpoints. One is just a 6 x 6 black plastic shed out in the middle of nowhere. There are four guys there, and it is still raining hard as they check our permits, papers, and passports. We see and hear the Caribbean, so we paddle over and put our feet in it. I empty out the kayak again. We see this huge storm coming, and try to out run it, right. San Juan Del Norte is in sight, but now we are paddling up the Rio Indio, so it takes us a while to do it. By this time we have been hammered by the storm, some of the hardest rain yet, and are very cold. We see a river Otter as we go by. We pull into the hotel Edwin has chosen and drag ourselves dripping out of the kayak. All of our clothes have gotten wet, so there is nothing dry to change into. There is warm food though, and we hang out our clothes to dry. We haven’t seen any animals or Iguana all day, except for the Otter. We kayak by the remains of the huge old river dredge, but it isn’t much to see. We have a shimp dinner of 4 huge shrimp and rice with salad for 140 Cordoba each. We have a warm bed for the night. We say goodbye to Edwin, and pay his passage back to El Castillo. 21.5 miles today.
1-19-13 It rains all night again. We sleep in and have a nice warm breakfast and walk around to see the sights. There are none. San Juan Del Norte is a dreary town at the end of the line. There used to be a boat to Bluefields, but not anymore. We get tickets for tomorrow’s fast boat at 6:00, 610 Cordoba each, and I paddle the Kayak up to the boat, break it down into its bag and load it on board.
1-20-13 A rat has been running around the room in the night, and has eaten the food we were going to have for breakfast. We are up at 4:00 and at the boat by 4:45. Good thing too, since the 6:00 boat leaves at 5:12. The ride is smooth and fast. We get into El Castillo a little after 10:00, take a nap, and make it down to the dock just as the roof of one of the river boats collapses because too much luggage and stuff had been put on top. No one seems to have been hurt, but there are a lot of German tourists standing around.
1-21-13 We catch the morning boat into San Carlos only to find out that most of the hotels are full, so we get a small room in a fleabag hospedaje for $8.00 for the both of us, and sleep in our clothes
1-22-13 Up at 6:30, and get tickets for the Solentiname Islands, which are 45 minutes away from San Carlos. We stay at Isla San Fernando Island, at the Hostal Vanessa. The owner has a fishing boat, so we book a fishing trip. He takes us out 4 times and we catch 2 different kinds of Mohara, what looks like a kind of bass, and some 3 lb Guapote, 8 of them, on lures. One morning we see a large Crocodile in the water, with the morning sun glistening on his teeth. There are many birds, and we watch them fish in the shallows. A large turtle forages by the dock. The island is beautiful, peaceful, and I see many Cacao trees. There is not a single burglar bar on any window, and the people are friendly. I walk all over the island and we have fresh Guapote filets for lunch. There is a small strange museum on the island. Our fishing guide takes all over around the islands. This must be what paradise looks like. We stay two more days.
1-25-13 Up early, catch the boat to San Carlos, hang out for a couple of hours, then catch the Ferry back to Ometepe and Alta Gracia. This time, there are less people, more room, and we can lie down on the benches inside. Someone figured out how to turn off the air conditioner so we don’t freeze. The ferry gets in at 1:00 AM, and our buddy Willie meets us and takes us to his hotel, where we get a room. Up at 6:30, and catch the bus to Moyogalpa and the 9:00 ferry to San Jorge. A short cab ride to Rivas and we are on the bus to San Juan Del Sur and home at about noon.
We did the trip down the river in 7 days. It would have been easy to do it in 5, but we decided that it was the journey, not the final destination we were looking for. There never were many mosquito’s, except at the end of the trip. It was easy, with no glitches except for the rain, and I could have been better prepared with a rain fly for the kayak that I intend to buy. The river current varied from 1 to 3 miles an hour, so that even though we paddled a lot, it wasn’t hard. Almost anyone in any shape could have done it. I am 60, my lady friend 59. Almost everything I had read before the trip, made it look like this was in the frontier, with nothing around for miles. That is true only on the Nicaraguan side which is where the most wildlife is. Costa Rica has people, farms, and a road, the whole way. Boats go up and down the river every day. San Juan Del Norte is not worth going to, but the trip there is the best. I would take a blanket also next time, which will be next year. There is also a bus to San Carlos from Managua, the trip is on a good highway and is much faster and more comfortable than the ferry.
There is no way to get any cash after you leave San Carlos, so load up at the ATM machines.
The people that told us we would never make it back alive have obviously never even been anywhere close to the Rio San Juan. This trip was the best.
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