Climbing Conception

What should I say: we made it, we climbed Conception! But let me start at the beginning and in this case the beginning is very early, to be precise at 5:30 in the morning. That’s when Hernan, Rafat, Robert and I (Niels) got picked-up.

The real story told through the eyes of Lara: “We held hands and skipped across a sun drenched meadow, singing merrily. Having downloaded several photos of the volcano summit from Google, and convincingly dirtied our trainers, we headed to the nearest bar, sinking a few Jagerbombs before heading to Ometepe Babes (the local strip club) to contribute some American dollars to the local economy. Rafat come away with a nasty case of pink eye, but it was otherwise excellent and a great way to get to know the locals better  - Rob was particularly grateful for the opportunity to practice his Espanol – “Me Gusta!!!!!”. After ten hours of la vida loca, we headed back to base camp, with our prepared story at the ready (our hangovers were already kicking in so we looked convincingly exhausted), ready to bask in the glory. The girls totally bought our story, what silly billiys.”

Back to the original story… The way to the base camp is a 2 km sandy walk. It takes around 1 hour to get there. Starting from the base camp it is only 6 kms to the top. The peak is at 1.6 km altitude. You do the math about the average gradient – it is steep – very steep – sometimes too steep. The first 1 km of altitude you climb through rain forest. On the one hand that means the path is shady on the other the humidity is rather high. The way up consist of a never ending sequence of roots forming a long stairway. As soon as we reached the end of the rain forest all of us were exhausted already. The view from up there makes you forget about your burning legs. We had a 10 minutes break- meeting two other groups on their way up (only one of them made it to the top).

The path only continued to become harder, it got even steeper, no more roots forming stairs and slippery lose stones. None of us expected it to be that difficult to climb up there. After another 350 m of altitude one of us had to give up, constantly slipping of stones and nearly falling over made it impossible for him to go further. Our tour guide had to attach him to a rope for safety reasons. So three of us were left alone in the middle of a very steep volcano (you needed to search for a place to sit and not sliding down again). On top of all that clouds started to cover the whole volcano. Sight went down to around 40-50 meters. The atmosphere was spooky. After some time the tour guide showed up again and we started climbing again. “Only” 250 more meters seemed to be a manageable goal.

Once more the volcano offered a surprise- the higher you climb the smaller the stones get and in consequence it gets even more slippery. Our last stop was at 1500 m because after that you are not allowed to stop anymore for security reasons – after all the volcano is still active and a lot of sulfur is released by it. That’s also the reason for the disgusting smell on the way to the top. By that time sight went down to 20 meters. The moment we thought we nearly made it the ground changed into sand: two steps up, one step sliding down! Ridicules!!! The moment we reached the top was supposed to be overwhelming but actually we couldn’t see sh*t and it smelled like sh*t! So after round about 10 minutes at the top we started to descend. Believe it or not the way down was even more miserable than our way up. Two of us had to do the crab walk down (on all fours). In total it took us 10 hours. Finally arriving at the car getting a cold Coca Cola was the best feeling of the day.

Ready for hiking the ConceptionIMG_20140609_063901

The first part of the climb through rainforestIMG_20140609_153446

The second part of the hike is still okIMG_20140609_092527

Quite cloudy ...IMG_20140609_092818 IMG_20140609_095554

... and the higher we got, the poorer the visibility becameIMG_20140609_101817

SteeeeeepIMG_20140609_102504IMG_20140609_120101The ground changed into sandIMG_20140609_121313IMG_20140609_125145

Crab walk downIMG_20140609_105441Selfi time!IMG_20140609_130750 IMG_20140609_141758 On the way down the sky cleared upIMG_20140609_145251 IMG_20140609_151917

Extremly exhausted and dirty ... IMG_20140609_164011

... but we made it!IMG_20140609_173623

Leaving Costa Rica entering Nicaragua – Ometepe

Again... the pick up arrived early in the morning. The drive to the border took 3 hours. For leaving the country you have to pay a fee of 7-10 US$ (no one knows why and how the amount changes from day to day), we ended up with paying 8 US$. The broder crossing took only 1 hour and a chicken bus was ready to go bringing us straight to the ferry for the lake Nicaragua crossing to Isla Ometepe. Chicken busses are old American school buses which get sold at auctions when they get too old. Many of these buses are bought and driven to Central America where they live the second lifes.

The Ferryride to Ometepe takes around 1 hour. Ometepe is an island formed by two volcanoes rising from Lake Nicaragua. The two volcanoes Concepción and Maderas form one island in the shape of an hourglass. Ometepe is 31 km long and 5 to 10 km wide.

The following 2 nights all of us had a home stay ( = staying with an local family). It’s a Planeterra-supported homestay experience. Planeterra is a non-profit organization that helps empower local people to develop their communities, conserve their environment, and provide supportive solutions to local problems ( The next day Niels and the other guys got picked up at 5:30 am for hiking volcano Concepción (post will follow soon), which is one of the highest volcanos of Nicaragua and also one of its most active ones. Since 1883, it has erupted at least 25 times (its last eruption was on 9 March 2010). While the guys hiked the Volcan Concepción the girls relaxed in the village.

Apparently exhausted from hiking the guys came around 6 pm. After having dinner and relaxing on the beach at the campfire we all called an early night.

First sight of Isla Ometepe from the port of San JorgeIMG_1420

Exhausted from the last days most of us took a nap on the ferryIMG_1442

Our room in the Planeterra-supported homestay. On our Veranda we had breakfast and dinner with our local familyIMG_1449

Some impressions of the neighbourhood and the village ...IMG_1452 IMG_1462 IMG_1485

The cute puppies from the neighboure came every day for a stroke and playIMG_1493IMG_1504 IMG_1506IMG_20140609_060105

The right transporation for EvaIMG_20140609_060225

Dinner is not yet readyIMG_20140609_060205IMG_1507

Unbelivable, its mango season at the moment and they just fall from the trees and go off because the locals can´t eat all of the mangos 🙁 We had mangos every day and also took some with us. They were delicious!!!IMG_1509

The commone area were we relaxed in the hammocks and enjoyed the campfire at the beach IMG_1501IMG_1496IMG_20140608_071001

Chicken busIMG_20140608_124352

Someone needs alot of chocolateIMG_1416

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