After two months in León I have a hole in my heart. This hole does not make me feel empty though. I don’t need anything to fill the vacuum it creates. Naah, this is the rare hole that actually infuses your heart and makes it a bit richer somehow. It is definitely a challenge to reach it, but every time I do the hole grows a little bit bigger with every taste of the views it offers and the sunsets that make the landscape glow before it disappears into the Pacific over there in the distance. Happiness is created here, in my heart. I realise how lucky I am to be able to do this type of work and to see the beauty of Nicaragua. It inspires me to make an effort to reach places that normally wouldn’t be on my agenda. It’s okay with hard work, no matter what shape it comes in, because the reward is worth doing it once and all over again. This is my hike to El Hoyo and it has been my favorite hike whilst working at Quetzaltrekkers.
We get up early morning, sometimes after 3 hours sleep, because life is too good to go to waste on sleeping. The music is playing, the beer is cold and the atmosphere is warm and so we are heaving for another night full of good times. Sometimes we use our senses and go to bed early so we are fresh, rested and ready for the day ahead. We get up early hours ready to greet our clients when they arrive the office at 7 a.m. After breakfast, instructions and introductions, we head out from the office and towards the green landscape and those awesome volcanos.
My hike starts off at the best possible way saving my energy for the climb with a two hour nap in the hammock at the rancher station. Why? Well, because some of my clients are going volcano boarding before we hike up to El Hoyo. All I need to do is wait. Wait for them to come back down, dirty faces smiling and ready to take on their second volcano of the day. The first hour is hard. With 15 kilos on our back we have to climb the steep hill up through Las Pilas before we reach the top. When we get there everyone can relax knowing that the hard part is over and the rest of the day will be spent more or less on flat surface. Honestly, my first time up I thought I was gonna have to turn around. Although I made sure it would be even harder by literally no exercise before arriving in León, it is for sure a small challenge to work your way up that hill in blazing sunshine and 40 degrees weather. I high five myself on the inside when I reach the top and thankfully, by my last time to El Hoyo, it didn’t seem that tough anymore.
So we reach the plateau and we have lunch after a busy morning. Already here the spectacular views are becoming visible, but it’s still nothing compared to what we got in store. After our stomachs are full we get back on the path and walk through the green lush jungle, listening to birds singing and the sunlight beaming through the trees. Let’s not forget the feeling of sweat slowly running down our backs. What a contrast, but that is life hiking in Nicaragua. And it’s so worth it, because after our day of volcano boarding and walking, getting filthy from top to bottom, we finally come out of the jungle and the landscape opens up before us. As we walk around the bend toward our campsite it looks like the whole of Nicaragua is revealed to us. The closer we get to El Hoyo the more we see. First The Pacific in the distance, met by the green jungle beneath us. Not before long Lake Managua covers the area in front of us and as we come up along the ridge of El Hoyo, the jewel in the crown rises out of the water. There lies Momotombo, beautiful and majestic, blowing smoke to remind us that here rests the mighty Volcano that buried Old León in 1610. It’s such a sight, getting more stunning every time I see it.
We have time to enjoy the view while we set up our tents and for the rest of our time on the volcano. Turning your back on Momotombo you are faced with the reason for El Hoyo’s name. Literally meaning ‘The Hole’ in English, there is the crater that was created by an explosive eruption many years ago. After some time to relax we start making our way up to the hole and the top of El Hoyo. As we explore the craters we get closer to sunset and make our way around to the other side where we can see the sun set over the Pacific. It’s the perfect ending to a long day seeing this glowing star slowly disappearing into the ocean. After dinner and roasted marshmallows on the bonfire, we soon make our way back to our tents, tired after the long day.
The next morning we wake up early in time to see the sunrise. And if Momotombo wasn’t already beautiful, how about seeing it lit up by the sun. Gorgeous. We pack up our tents and have a quick breakfast before the hiking yet again begins. This time we head for Lake Asasosca that we can see in the distance. All morning we walk through the jungle to get to this crater lake where we get a well deserved swim and some lunch. The day passes fast and after our ride back to León on the chicken buses we arrive the office happy, tired and in desperate need of a shower. Another trip is over and me, I’m happy to be back in my own bed, grateful and pleased that yet another trip was worth the stunning surroundings of El Hoyo.