We got up the next morning and had a wonderful breakfast at Las Rocas, before heading out of the area for Granada, Nicaragua. We heard great things about Granada and wanted to see if the arid environment of the north, was also in the central part of Nicaragua. It was hot this day. Ninety degree temperatures and moonscape like terrain was all we viewed for most of the trip. We also wanted to check out a dormant volcanic crater lake called Xiloa Lagoon in the Chiltepe Peninsula.
Roadside Stand - Lake Managua
We headed toward Managua and we wanted to check out a volcano in Lake Managua (Xolotlan) called Chiltepe. The dormant volcano has created 2 crater lakes on the Chiltepe Peninsula, where we had heard it was alright to swim. We stopped just outside of the Chiltepe Peninsula and spent a few minutes along the shores of Lake Managua. There was an overlook where there was some lady selling candy bars, chips, water and other stuff. We stretched our legs and decided on the best way to get the crater lake.
Northwest Road - Chiltepe Peninsula
Dirt Roads and Potholes
We decided to enter from the northwest. We drove down to the entry road which almost immediately turned to a dirt road. The dirt road soon changed into a 4x4 necessary road which rocked our jeep from side to side. There were multiple large puddles to traverse and rocky terrain which made for a slow trek to the crater. The views were spectacular however. We made our way down the red dirt road through ranch after ranch, for about an hour. Making our way to the entrance of a paved road that led us to the lake wasn't easy yet, beautiful.
Xiloa Lagoon is one of two volcanic crater lakes that were formed by what scientists believe to be the one of the largest explosions in history. Chiltepe Peninsula Natural Reserve has the Xiloa Lagoon and Apoyeque Lagoon. Apoyeque is a little tougher to get to and requires a short hike and Xiloa has roads that drive right up to it. We drove down to the lake which appeared to have been, or is, a Managuan weekend destination. There were lots of places to sit on stone walls all along the lake road. However the day we were there, there were only a few locals swimming in the lake. There were horses grazing along the lake, the skies were blue, temperatures warm and a dip in the lake sounded lovely.
Taking A Dip In Alkaline Waters
Bathing In the Lake
We took our bathroom bags with us down to the lake's edge and kept the Jeep parked on the street. We bathed in the lake and swam around a little. The waters were perfect temperature. We later found out that the lake has alkaline water and might have been why the water felt so incredible. Maybe it was just the oppressive high heat or the fact we hadn't showered or bathed yet this day. It was a much needed stop from Leon to Granada. Bathing in the lake reminded me of my childhood, when we used to bathe in my Grandma Paxson's lake in Michigan, in the summers. There is nothing like bathing in a clean lake.
Heading to Granada
We swam around a little and took pictures and ate some lasagna that we had packed away in Roatan before leaving and kept in our cooler. We returned to the lake and brushed our teeth and decided to head to Granada as it was already 3pm. After we were done at the lake, we headed down the lake road which was flooded with a foot of water from a recent rainfall, then through the little pueblo to the main road once again.
We realized we didn't need to go down all the dirt roads using the 4 wheel drive. The southeast corner of the Chiltepe Peninsula and the other side of the pueblo was paved to the main highway. Over an hour of off road was totally unnecessary, we could have just stayed on the highway and spared our jeeps and our backs the rocky journey.
Change in Perspective
We realized how hard and long it was to get to the lake. The trek to get there, made getting there... somehow sweeter. Had we just taken the 10 minute paved road to the crater lake, maybe it wouldn't have seemed as special as it did to us? Maybe it would have. At any rate, it was an adventure we were both craving and the sweet prize at the end was bathing in a dormant volcanic crater lake. Really memorable moment in our travels through Nicaragua in a place not visited by many tourists.
This is traveling. Would the crater lake had seemed like such a secluded place had we not worked so hard to get there? It truly is the journey not the destination that matters and can change the way you view the destination. Can you think of a time in your life when you took the wrong way and it made a difference in the way you saw the destination?