Two people exploring the world, seeking adventure & unique experiences.
Cosiguina is a large extinct volcano with a large blue crater lake offering amazing views of three countries; Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador. Cosiguina was once the tallest volcano in Central America until it was decimated by a powerful eruption in 1835. Ashes from the eruption fell as far as Mexico and Jamaica and it was heard as far away as Rivas in the far South of Nicaragua.
It was an early morning start again, this time 6.30am, something we seem to be doing more often than not. It typically works well with transport being more frequent earlier in the day and a much cooler temperature. We had a long day ahead of us with travel and hiking. We were aiming to leave Leon on an interlocal express bus to Chinandega in the North of Nicaragua. This ride costs 25 cords / $1 and typically should take 45 minutes. In Chinandega like many cities, you need to change bus stations and this is a good 30 minute or more walk, so a taxi per person for 10 cords / $0.40 is a bargain. We were aiming for the bus going to Potosi on very far North Western Coast. Very few people live out there, so the bus only leaves a couple of times a day. The unofficial line was getting quite long and luckily when we saw a large group of people in the line running down the street to where the bus was already letting people on, we followed them and got on early enough to actually get a seat. This bus trip would take around 3 hours and cost 45 cords / $1.80 each. Our new strategy on chicken buses was to keep all of our valuables on our laps instead of overhead. We would also be much more discreet with the money and valuables we were carrying.
In typical Central American chicken bus style, this was super crowded with people. The first hour and a half people were still standing as people got off and new people replaced them. At one point Toby had the joy of a well fed woman crushing up against his body and face for more than 15 minutes. We are now suspecting this to be a strategy to see if Toby will give up his seat as it is definitely not the first time this has happened. The last hour of the ride was very bumpy and dusty as we entered dirt roads. It was so dusty that the conductor kept closing windows to stop dust from coming in and every 20 minutes would walk by and wipe everyone’s seats with a towel to clean the layer of dust from them.
Eventually we saw signs saying Cosiguina national park, and kept our eyes out for a green comedor (this is where we were advised to get off). We saw a large green building that we thought was the right place. Unfortunately our departure off the bus was a bit premature and after asking a few locals where the comedor was, we walked around in a circle back onto the main road, to find the comedor. We were already hot and sweaty so we ordered a nice cold coke to cool down and fried chicken costing $5. While we were eating our meal it was amusing to watch some local men having a few beers during their lunch break, and picking songs from the juke box. This was attached to a big screen TV showing the video clip of your choice. What was amusing about this is the men would have been in their 20’s and were picking Celine Dion and Toni Braxton amongst others. After lunch we completely soaked our hats, faces and clothes in water knowing what was ahead of us would be hot work.
The first hour of the hike was quite difficult as it was the hottest part of the day at just after 1pm and every part of our bodies were drenched in sweat. We walked along a dirt access road used by farmers surround by fields with limited shade. The terrain however was quite flat but the overbearing heat made it feel like one of the hardest treks we had done. We followed some directions given to us by the other guides and only once took a detour from our desired path for about 10 minutes. The trail overall was a steady incline up the ridge and not as difficult as Telica or El Hoyo which have a couple of pieces that have a long 1 hour steep incline. We finally hit the forest providing some relief from the hot sun. We were careful not to push the pace too quickly and take a few short breaks in the shade. When we finally came upon the landmark known as the climbing tree we knew we were most of the way to our destination.
At this point of the trail we had only met two other small groups of people both returning towards Potosi. This hike sure does bring out the meaning of “into the wilderness”. As there were just the two of us, we made it from Potosi to the campsite in less than 3 hours. The campsite was covered in trees making it feel like we were back in Canada. The best sign was there was no tents set up upon our arrival at 4pm, which meant we would almost certainly be here alone for the night.
After setting up camp we walked to the top of the crater of Cosiguina. Wow what a sight! It was absolutely breathtaking peering into the large Crater Lake, with many birds flying at the bottom of the crater. We could also see fantastic sunset views of Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. It was only slightly disturbed by the large amount of smoke pollution so common in these areas.
We decided against setting up a campfire since we were both tired and didn’t need the fire to cook with. After a quick dinner of Veggie Burritos, we were soon in the tent ready for bed. This meant we were well rested for the early morning start to hike up to the rim for sunrise and some more amazing photos.
Time to relax on the beach of Jiquilillo
We weren’t totally sure on when the buses were departing Potosi to return south bound. We decided the best plan was to get moving as quickly as possible and sit at the comedor if we had spare time. We barely even stopped for a break on the way back with about 1 hour and 45 minutes of walking. We got fairly lucky and the next bus was due to leave in about 15 minutes. We had to change once from this bus to get to Jiquilillo and our beach destination of Rancho Esperanza. The hostel is really awesome with a huge amount of space centred on the communal area of the Rancho where meals and drinks were served. It also had great beach front access with everything you need to relax including numerous hammocks.
The beach was black sand again, but it was awesome to relax after our month of hiking.
Plenty more to explore. Keep following the blog and our Flickr account for updates. http://www.flickr.com/photos/toraadventure/