With approximately 270 square kilometers Ometepe is the world’s largest volcanic island in a fresh water lake, the lake Nicaragua or Cocibolca. With an area of 8,157 square kilometers, Lake Nicaragua is behind Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela (13,512 m²) and Lake Titicaca between Peru and Bolivia (8,288 m²) the third largest lake in Latin America and the largest in Central America.
In the lake there are more than 400 islands, the largest being Zapatera in the north and Ometepe in the center. The name Ometepe comes from the Nahuatl and is composed of the terms ome (two) and tepetl (mountain, hill), which refer to the two volcanoes.
Ometepe is formed by two volcanoes
Ometepe consists of the volcanoes Concepción (1,610 meters) on the north-western half and Maderas (1,394 meters) on the southeastern half, which give the island the shape of an eight. Eruptions of both volcanoes have caused the original two islands to grow into a single island through the lava flows. In between, an isthmus has formed, the river Istiam, on which we organize our kayaking tours.
The volcano Concepción is one of the most active volcanoes in Nicaragua (last eruption 2010). Its slopes are about 1,000 meters high with fertile tropical forest. Above the tree line the vegetation changes. The volcano Maderas is considered extinct or possibly dormant and thus covered up to the crater with dense forest. On its slopes you can also find Ardisia ometepensis, a tree species found only on ometepe. In addition, coffee and tobacco are cultivated. In the crater there is a lagoon, where you can bathe and on the south side in San Ramon there is a waterfall.
Both volcanoes can be seen from all over the island, and life on Ometepe turns around them. Myths and legends are crowded around the two volcanoes. Both can be hiked under the guidance of local guides. The hike offers breathtaking views of the island and the lake.
On Ometepe live around 30,000 people. The largest communes on the island are the island capital of Altagracia (about 4,000 inhabitants) and Moyogalpa (about 2,900). These two places are at the same time administrative offices of the municipalities of the same name, between which the island is divided. Moyogalpa is also a landing stage of the ferry from San Jorge on the mainland.