A Travellerspoint blog

Just hanging

Granada

sunny 27 °C

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We hopped a chicken bus (grabbed two of the last seats) and shared our ride (and our laps half the time) with a lady carrying parrots in her bag to Managua, then jumped another bus to Granada.

We enjoyed just chilling out and eating local food in this pretty city on the edge of the lake. We caught up on internetty things and did quite a bit of planning as well to justify the amount of hammock time. : )

Posted by Addy21 05:59 Archived in Nicaragua Comments (0)

Chilling on the Rio San Juan

San Carlos and El Castillo

sunny 29 °C

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We arrived bright and early in San Carlos and organised our tickets to get down to El Castillo (only accessible by water). Despite many assurances to the contrary we triple checked about the buses at the bus station and discovered they were only running on Saturday, oh well.

The trip down the river was lovely and we arrived in El Castillo to discover some great cheap hostels with private rooms right on the water. The town was tiny and very easy to walk around and it was really lovely watching the water. We teamed up with some other English speakers to organise a tour into the nearby reserve. It was fantastic.
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As we were signing in at the administration area we had howler monkeys hanging out just above us and saw a green and black dart frog which was a pretty cools start to our adventure. We saw caiman in the water and then arrived at our jumping off point to walk into the jungle. Our guide was great and explained the uses of the local plants and kept a keen eye out for local wildlife.
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Matt spotted our first Blue Jeans or Strawberry Dart Frog, incredibly tiny bright blue and red frog. Very cute. We saw another one along the way as well as a troop of Cappuccino Monkeys and a big family of Spider Monkeys (my personal favourite). At the end we even made our way into a little stream off the main river to go swimming.
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We headed back up the river, catching site of a toucan along the way and grabbed lunch with our fellow tourists. Later that afternoon we headed up to check out the old fort (built to stop pirates coming up from the Caribbean and sacking Granada, which seemed to happen with alarming regularity). The views were amazing and it was pretty interesting reading about the history of the pirates in the area.
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The place we stayed with gorgeous, right on the water with a killer view. See what I mean...
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The next day we hopped a boat back to San Carlos, and took up residence in what must have been the worst hotel we've experienced so far (mouse in the first room, and God knows what running around in the roof all night). Despite the shabby accommodations we really enjoyed San Carlos. They had food and music happening on the water each night and generally it was just a cool little spot. We jumped on a tour going out to the Solentiname Islands to round out our lake and river adventure. It was a nice day, checking out the islands, going for a swim or two and spotting howler monkeys from the boat.

Saturday we jumped up early to secure the last two seats on the local bus to Granada.

Posted by Addy21 05:38 Archived in Nicaragua Comments (0)

Monkeys, monkeys, everywhere

Ometepe

sunny 32 °C

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After a quick stop in Liberia, which didn't turn out to be as pretty as the guidebook said, we decided to make a dash for Ometepe for Matt's birthday. Omotepe is an island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua composed of two volcanoes, one active, one not.

We arrived in Rivas, got a taxi to San Jorge and got the afternoon ferry across to Ometepe. We got a huge room with ensuite which was being rented out by a local couple, and set about making the most of what was left of Matt's Birthday. We headed down to the water with a half bottle of wine we'd picked up in Peru, and watched the sunset. It was absolutely magical, so beautiful. Then we wandered back up and took the couple's recommendation for local food, had some great chicken, gallo pinto (rice and beans), salad and plantain chips for about $2. Then we wandered back to a very cute bar we saw on our way to dinner to round the night out with a few drinks. At 80c for two cocktails, we may have had one or two too many.
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The next day was very relaxed. We chilled out and watched movies while recovering from Matt's Bday celebrations.
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Our third day on Ometepe we decided to explore the island and do some swimming. We hired a scooter and set off. We met some local kids at one swimming spot who kept hunting out pippis for us to eat. Apparently, it's all about lime, chilli and salt. We finally convinced them that they wouldn't last in our bag as we scooted around the island all day, and they took them home to eat themselves.
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We headed over to the other great beach spot on the island and chilled out for a bit. Mostly we just really enjoyed zooming around the island. It was great seeing the plantain farms, little colourful towns, beautiful blue birds everywhere, and occasional road blockage from locals moving their cattle. We also headed down to the port for the boats which stopped off between San Carlos and Granada to get a final answer on whether they were running over Semana Santa. The answer was no! Damn!
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The next day we got up bright and early to hike up the active volcano. It was at this point we realised our host (and guide for this tour) was probably an alcoholic. Apart from the smell of alcohol, he'd also stuffed up the bus timetable which meant we walked the 3kms to the start of the hike. It wasn't the end of the world but didn't give us a huge amount of confidence. The hike itself was great though, we saw soo many monkeys: at least three big groups of howler monkeys and two groups of cappuccino monkeys. We got most of the way to the top but couldn't go quite all the way because of the wind. It was incredible, you really did feel like it would push you off the volcano!
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The following day we said goodbye to Ometepe and got the 6pm ferry across to San Carlos. We paid an extra 30 cordobas to set ourselves up ourselves up outside on deck chairs. The moon on the water was beautiful and once I pulled out my sleeping bag to keep off the wind I was incredibly comfortable and slept like a baby.
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Posted by Addy21 05:18 Archived in Nicaragua Comments (1)

Ziplining, tarzan swing and hummingbirds

Monteverde

sunny 24 °C

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We arrived in Monteverde and after a quick haggle at the bus stop to get some very cheap accomodation in the centre of town heard about all the cool things we could do. Ziplining, bunjee jumping, night tours, hiking in the Monteverde Cloud Forest. After some back and forth, we headed out ziplining that very afternoon and had our tickets to get the local bus out to Monteverde the next morning.
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The ziplining was a blast. We were put into our harnesses and after a quick 10 minute safety briefing we were off! We were shooting throught he canopy from one line to the next with barely time to think about it. You landed on a platform, the guy would unclip you, clip you to the next one and off you went. Then, allowing some time for everyone to regroup, we were headed for the lonnng ones. The first was the usual seated position, and was about 500m across a gully over the canopy. It got the heart pumping a bit. We arrived on the other side and were directed to a trail to hike up the hill so we could get to the BIG one. A one mile ¨superman¨zipline, where you face down. I filmed it on my newly resotred GoPro (we picked up a new one in Panama), there was a lot of high pitched ¨oh wow this is high¨, and a definite moment about halfway across when I was convinced the harness was going to give way. We both made it safely across however, and got ready for our second superman crossing. This one wasn't quite so long and you got to put your arms out like you were flying. It was fantasitc! You really felt like you were flying. I got to flim Matt coming in on that one, so fast. Very cool.
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The last adrenaline hit of the day was the Tarzan Swing. A forty metre rope swing, which starts with a 5m drop before the line catches and you swing out over the trees. After walking out to the platform and seeing just how high you are, I definitely had second thoughts. It doesn't help that the guy doesn't tell you what to expect or how it will work, just starts clipping you to stuff then pushes you against the gate, so that you are convinced you're about to fall. Then he opens the gate and basically pushes you out (ok not exactly, but there was definite nudging). I screamed like the big girl I am, but once the line caught and you swing up and over the tops of the trees it's just magic. A definite highlight.
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We got out to Monteverde early in the hopes of spotting the elusive Quetzal (called by some the world's most beautiful bird). We stopped at first by the hummingbird feeders and watched about 10 different types zoom in, hover, sip, and zoom back to a nearby branch. They were gorgeous, metallic greens and blues, yellow, red, you name it. Then we started hiking, we did basically all the paths in the park over the course of the day. It was truly beutiful rainfoest. After most of the day without seeing anything we got overwhelmed when I spotted the flash of red and green of a Quetzal and Matt spotted a couple of Coatis (think cross between a possum, a badger and a racoon) just off the path. The Coati really wasn't bothered by us and one of them even walked right by us to cross the path and find another tree to climb up. So cute. Matt caught another glimpse of the Quetzals as they flew away, but neither of us got a very good view of them. Oh well, you can't win them all.
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Posted by Addy21 03:48 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged verde monte ziplining Comments (0)

Turtle nesting, boat rides and monkeys

Welcome to Tortuguero

overcast 30 °C

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After much back and forth and hearing about a million different things about where was best to see turtles nesting in April, we decided to head straight from Panama City to Tortuguero in Costa Rica. We spent a night in San Jose, which wasn't very flash but had some great street food, then hopped two chicken buses and a boat to get to Tortuguero.

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The boat ride was brilliant, we jumped off the bus at what is a private farm on the river with a restaurant for all those passing through, then (being dry season and the river being low) you walk about 500m down to a certain section of bank and wait. It was all made very easy by the fact that the Tortuguero tourist office sends a guy to meet the second bus and make sure the tourists don't have too much trouble getting there. We crammed 14 people into a boat designed to fit about 9, but you couldn't very well leave anyone on the bank in the middle of nowhere and this was the only boat of the day. Then with a combination of a small outboard motor and the guys getting out and pushing the boat every now and then, made our way down the river for about 2 hours to get to the village. We saw Esmerelda lizards, caiman, birds and even Spider Monkeys (on the return trip). It was great fun and felt like a tour in itself, except that I spent the entire on Matt's lap or sitting on my pack on the ground.
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Tortuguero itself was a great little town, one long road with a few side streets, nestled between the river and the beach. We had some great food from locals firing up a grill in front of the local supermarket, and generally felt very relaxed.
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The next day we decided to hike in the national park, not realising until we got to the office that they only have 1 trail to hike and most of the park is only accessible by canoe. We decide to go in anyway and enjoy the walk and the beach if nothing else. We got incredibly lucky though and after sheltering from the rain under a palm tree at the end of the path made our way slowly back to see Capachino Monkeys, a Spider Monkey and a (apparently) very rare deer. The Capachino Monkey's were very curious and got very close, very cute. The Spider Monkey just went about his business, swinging through the trees without a care in the world and lazily hanging from one arm, or his tail, to eat. The deer wasn't really sure what to make of us, we startled it on the path and it froze, then made it's way carefully back into the jungle just next to the beach, which meant it really couldn't go very deep. It kept an eye on us, but we managed to walk next to it and watch it for about 15 minutes. It was really beautiful.
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We jumped a boat out the next morning and made our way back to San Jose to spend another night before heading to Monteverde Cloud Forest.

Posted by Addy21 03:32 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (1)

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